Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, during the launch of the DA’s National Manifesto 2024, at the Union Buildings in the City of Tshwane, Gauteng.
Fellow Democrats, fellow South Africans,
I’m speaking to you today from an auspicious location.
Directly behind me, you will see the Union Buildings.
The seat of government, at the heart of our capital city.
These buildings should be the pride of every South African.
But, over the past decades, these buildings have come to mean something very different.
It is inside these buildings that the ANC executed the plans that created the world’s highest unemployment rate, unleashed violent criminals on innocent people, and captured the state.
It is inside these buildings, that the dreams of Tintswalo, and millions of other hopeful young people, were betrayed.
The same buildings that once served as a symbol of hope when President Nelson Mandela assumed office here, have been turned into a crime scene.
So our meeting here today is no accident.
Our meeting here today is a signal of intent.
The Democratic Alliance is launching our 2024 election manifesto from the Union Buildings to send a clear message.
That in this election, we are in it to win it.
That in this election, we must rescue the Union Buildings from the clutches of a corrupt government, and restore them to their rightful place as a symbol of pride for all South Africans.
In every previous election since 1994, everyone knew that the ANC would win.
The only question was by how much.
As a result, in every previous election, the DA’s primary task was to consolidate the strongest possible opposition to the ANC.
To prevent the worst from happening to our beloved country.
But all of that changes, today.
Today, we embark down a new path, and towards a new objective.
In this election, the DA is not going to oppose the ANC.
In this election, the DA is going to defeat the ANC.
For the first time in our democratic history, support for the ANC is set to crash well below 50%.
It is a party in terminal decline, being ripped to shreds from all sides.
The ANC was already on its knees when Jacob Zuma’s MK Party entered the fray.
As we speak, MK is devouring millions of ANC votes.
And the ANC only has one man to blame for its demise: Cyril Ramaphosa, who, for decades, did everything in his power to enable and protect Zuma.
Ramaphosa even freed over 15 000 criminals just to keep Zuma out of prison.
The very same Zuma is now helping to evict Ramaphosa from the Union Buildings behind me.
The demise of the ANC has opened the door for the DA to achieve what was once considered unthinkable: to enter national government.
In this election, for the first time ever, the DA has a clear path to victory.
Many of you were at the DA’s Federal Congress in April last year, when I first announced the DA’s commitment to the formation of a Moonshot Pact to rescue South Africa.
By bringing an end to opposition infighting, and consolidating likeminded parties into a cohesive bloc, this formation – now known as the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa – offers voters the best prospect for political change since 1994.
The DA feels a profound sense of responsibility towards the Charter.
Given our size, our proud track record of clean and accountable government, and our success in delivering services and jobs where we govern, the DA is committed to becoming the strong, stable anchor party at the heart of a new multi-party government to rescue South Africa.
But, in the DA, we do not pursue power for its own sake.
For the DA, winning elections and entering government is a means to the ultimate end.
That ultimate end, is to serve all the people of South Africa by making their lives better.
That is why I am proud today to launch the DA’s Rescue Plan for South Africa, our manifesto for the historic 2024 election.
This manifesto is the outcome of the most comprehensive policymaking process in the history of our party, built upon a raft of updated policies we adopted since 2019.
In this election, a vote for the DA is a vote for a party with a clear plan to rescue South Africa.
As the anchor tenant in a new multi-party government, the DA’s key priorities during the 2024 to 2029 term will be to:
1. Create two million new jobs;
2. End loadshedding and water-shedding;
3. Halve the rate of violent crime, including murder, attempted murder and gender-based violence;
4. Crush corruption by abolishing cadre deployment in favour of merit-based appointments and a capable state that delivers for all;
5. Lift six million people out of poverty;
6. Triple the number of Grade Four learners who can read for meaning; and
7. Ensure quality healthcare for all, irrespective of economic status.
Unlike most other parties contesting this election, the DA’s Rescue Plan for South Africa is not pie in the sky.
Frankly, it is easy for parties that have no track record in government to get on a stage and read out a list of impossible promises that they know can never be delivered.
But South Africans are tired of empty promises.
They are tired of hearing about bullet trains when the trains they used to take no longer run.
They are tired of hearing about industrialisation plans when the factories where they used to work have closed due to loadshedding.
They are tired of hearing about smart cities when they don’t even feel safe walking the streets where they live.
What the DA offers you today, are not populist promises, but solemn pledges.
We will focus our time in government like a laser beam on implementing these seven key pledges, because we understand that if we do not fix these seven things, South Africa does not have a future.
Unlike Cyril Ramaphosa’s desperate efforts to whitewash his government’s failures, the DA’s manifesto is rooted in the reality of what South Africa is in 2024, not in the memory of what it promised to be in 1994.
In 1994, our South African dream was for a country where the lives of this generation would be better than the lives of their parents, and that their children’s lives would be better still.
But, in 2024, the nightmare that confronts us is that the lives of our children could be much worse than our own.
For the ANC has so utterly betrayed our nation, that we are now further from fulfilling the dream of 1994 than at any other point in our democratic history.
On Thursday, Ramaphosa used a handful of successful young people to try and defend his claim that South Africa under the ANC is some kind of heaven-on-earth for Tintswalo and her peers born after 1994.
Don’t get me wrong: I salute each and every one of those young people for helping to build South Africa.
But the cold, hard truth is that young people in this country do not succeed because of the ANC.
They succeed in spite of it.
If Ramaphosa wanted to honestly reflect the lives of young people in this country, then for every three employed people, he would show us the seven who have never had a job in their lives.
If Ramaphosa was not trying to deceive us, he would admit that for every five young people who finish matric, there are five others who failed or never even made it to matric.
If Ramaphosa was honest about the crime crisis in this country, he would acknowledge that the dead bodies of the people murdered while he was President would fill nearly two FNB stadiums.
After all the damage and destruction wrought during the fifteen wasted years under Zuma and Ramaphosa, the 2024 election is sadly not yet about truly fulfilling the dream of 1994.
Instead, this election is about survival – the survival of our South African dream.
It is also a shame that the ANC chose to focus only on Tintswalo.
No matter what your name is, no matter how old you are, no matter where you come from, I want to say to you: over the past thirty years, we have all grown up as democracy’s children.
But we should probably not be too surprised that Ramaphosa excluded from his speech Aunty Fatima from Eldorado Park, farmer Johan from Citrusdal, and Keshav, the entrepreneur from Chatsworth.
After all, this is the same man who deliberately excluded Dricus du Plessis from recognition as our country’s first-ever mixed martial arts world champion, purely because he refuses to keep quiet about ANC corruption.
Dricus, the DA salutes your courage, inside and outside the octagon – just like we salute Bafana Bafana, the Springboks, our under-19 cricketers, and every other sportsperson who keeps the hope alive that we can be a winning nation.
Wanneer ons binnekort in regering is, gaan ons vir jou en al ons sporthelde die erkenning gee wat jul toekom.
Want die ANC weet nie wat ons weet nie.
My fellow South Africans,
The only way to keep our South African dream alive, is by creating millions more jobs, including for our young people.
The only way to keep our dream alive, is by ending loadshedding and water-shedding, and by winning the war on crime.
The only way to keep our dream alive, is by abolishing the evil and corrupt system of cadre deployment, which locks qualified people out of jobs and destroys service delivery.
The only way to keep our dream alive, is by lifting millions of people out of the desperate poverty in which they still languish, to create schools that teach our children, and to build hospitals that heal the sick.
The DA is the only party with the proven ability to deliver on all of these pledges.
Where we govern in the Western Cape, eight out of ten people are employed, and we create more jobs than in any province.
Where we govern in places like Cape Town, we are already reducing loadshedding while providing the cleanest drinking water and the best sanitation services in the country.
Recently, DA-led Cape Town rolled out a ground-breaking new initiative that enables any household with solar panels and a bi-directional meter to become a “prosumer” by selling electricity back into the grid.
This same policy sits at the heart of our manifesto’s solution to loadshedding for the whole country.
Mark my words: the DA’s work in Cape Town is going to lead to an energy revolution, and it will all be thanks to the implementation of DA policies.
Where we govern, we have also enhanced local policing through the LEAP programme that has reduced violent crime by up to 40% in some of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the country.
And even before we have entered national government, the DA is already abolishing cadre deployment – whether Cyril Ramaphosa and Gwede Mantashe like it or not.
I have some breaking news in this regard.
As you all know, the Constitutional Court has given the ANC until Monday to hand over complete records of its cadre deployment committee dating back to 1 January 2013, when Ramaphosa became its chairman.
After delaying for more than three years following the DA’s initial request for these records to be made public to expose Ramaphosa’s role in state capture, the ANC yesterday came crawling back to the DA, begging us to give them more time.
I’d like to take this opportunity to respond to Ramaphosa and the ANC directly.
No, you cannot get more time.
Not to hand over these records, and not in government.
You have wasted South Africa’s time for long enough.
You will comply with the Constitutional Court’s order by handing over these records by 5pm on Monday.
If you fail to do so, the DA will use the precedent set in the Zuma case to go back to court for a contempt order that includes prison time for each and every one of the ANC’s leaders.
The ANC is so desperate to hide Ramaphosa’s cadre secrets that they are now threatening to trigger a constitutional crisis to protect him – just like they did with Zuma.
The DA does not just talk about fighting corruption and building a capable state.
Despite not even being in government yet, the DA is already doing more to rescue the state from total collapse than any other party in this country.
Fellow South Africans,
Built upon our proven track record, the DA’s Rescue Plan for South Africa will shine a bright ray of light into the darkness that threatens to blind us all.
It will not solve all of our problems overnight.
But it will fundamentally restore our country back onto the path of promise, and give us all permission to believe in our great South African dream again.
Instead of a government that tells you it’s not the end of the world when loadshedding makes you unemployed or destroys your business, you can vote for a new government that ends loadshedding.
Instead of a government with a cowardly leader who is probably busy shredding the rule of law alongside his dirty cadre secrets as we speak, you can vote for a new government with zero-tolerance for corruption.
Instead of a government that normalises gender-based violence, gang violence and farm murders, you can vote for a new government that respects and values our women and children, fights gangsterism, and protects our farmers.
As I speak to you today from the seat of national government, I can say unequivocally: the DA is ready to take up our rightful place in the Union Buildings behind me.
Make no mistake about it: the ANC knows this too.
This past week in Parliament, they repeatedly told us that the Moonshot is their single biggest fear.
They are so obsessed by their fear of the DA that some of them even said: Dubulu inyanga.
Dubula inyanga – that is exactly what we are going to do in this election.
Because the DA has the size, we have the people, we have the experience, we have the track record, and we have the plan to rescue this beautiful country before it is too late.
These aren’t empty words.
The DA is present in every town, every village and every city across this country.
And we are led by the strongest leadership collective in our party’s history.
I’d now like to invite onto stage our federal leadership.
Our premier candidates.
Our provincial leaders.
Our provincial chairpersons.
And members of our federal executive.
To Tintswalo, to Fatima, to Johan and to Keshav, I say: help is on the way.
If you want the DA’s Rescue Plan for South Africa to sit at the heart of a new multi-party government, then you must vote for the DA to carry this manifesto into that government.
If you want to rescue South Africa from unemployment, from loadshedding and water-shedding, from crime, from corruption, from poverty and hunger, from failing schools and from broken hospitals, then you must vote for the DA.
If you want to rescue the Union Buildings behind me from the corrupt clutches of those who plunged our country into hardship, then you must vote for the DA.
So come on Mr President, stop cowering away, and call this election.
Because the Democratic Alliance is ready to fight, so that South Africa can win.