In a fair society, students would have an equal opportunity to succeed

Madam Speaker,
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice, it is the protection of fundamental human rights – particularly the rights to dignity and decent life.”
Poverty is not natural, it is man-made. It can thus be overcome and eradicated by man-made actions. As such, when we make attempts to reverse the legacy of the past as governments and servants of the people, it is not a favour to anyone, it must happen and should happen. This is a joint responsibility that we all share as South Africans. Our primary mandate as public representatives is to advocate for the people of South Africa and this finds expression in the laws and budgets that we pass.
We find ourselves during a critical time in history, a time that requires the government to remain true to its promises and realisation of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, particularly the right to education.
It is common cause that there is unequal access to resources and infrastructure, which has a direct impact on the level of access to education, lack of success in institutions of higher learning and a lack of inclusive change that works for all and not for some. Often, students are forced to live in undignified conditions, using desperate measures to survive. It cannot be that in a constitutional democracy, many young people are without jobs and skills.
Yet, the Department of Higher Education and Training has underfunded students and institutions of higher learning in relation to the constraints that they face. The increased medium term allocation of R5 billion is unlikely to make a dramatic impact on access to education in institutions.
One of the cornerstones of the Democratic Alliance’s approach to redress is education and skills training. University and TVET college students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds face dire constraints to excelling and completing their courses. Academic success throughout is essential to economic growth and a growing tax base.
A DA run department of higher education would increase the budget to ensure that there is:

  • appropriate subsidies for our institutions of higher learning;
  • stability and change in our TVET colleges;
  • a drastically improved NSFAS system while ensuring that funds are made available for the support of the missing middle; and
  • a restructured Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) so as to ensure that we produce an adequate supply of skilled individuals required by business and the wider economy.

A DA run department would ensure that no student who is academically deserving is denied access in an institution of higher learning because of their circumstances.
In a free society, students would be free to live with dignity whilst pursuing a higher qualification.
In a fair society, students would have an equal opportunity to succeed.
In an opportunity society, success is based on hard work and talent rather than the circumstances of one’s birth.
I thank you.

Higher Education is stagnating

The vast Ponzi scheme that is the ANC-run economy is running out of money. The ANC bottom-feeders who rely on patronage for their well-being are getting anxious. More looting needs to be found to appease them.
Thus, Nuclear Energy must take priority, even if it means bankrupting us all. For only through a huge new scheme like this, can enough be found to mollify those who depend on the “Politics of the Belly”.
Other budget items of unquestionable social good are neglected if they cannot be plundered. Higher Education is one of these. And so, as a sector, it is stagnating.
We might be forgiven for thinking that things are going much better in Higher Education.
Measured against our low standards for stability, “only” a handful of reports of rioting and protests have emerged in the past few months. Registration seems to have gone relatively smoothly, and R1.2 billion in additional funding has been pumped into NSFAS this year with more to come.
But this all hides a darker reality. The public is generally unaware that the fundamentals in this sector remain shaky, if not downright crumbling.
Students are appeased for now, but deep structural weaknesses remain.
The institutional weaknesses resulting from financial neglect will take decades to fix. And new money is needed for this. Instead of new money, the current R5 billion Higher Education boost has mainly been taken from within Higher Education via the Skills Levy – without any guarantees that the skills that the Levy was designed to produce would be forthcoming.
Not only that: an increase in NSFAS funding does not represent a real change in income for Universities and Colleges themselves.
Putting money into NSFAS assists students, of course; but the most NSFAS funding can do for Universities and Colleges themselves is to reduce what is owed to them by students. This is important, but it does not address the fundamentals of the system.
The real indicator of Higher Education financial health is the level of subsidy. Which is a disaster.
University subsidies are far below what is required and will continue to increase at way below the required rate of 8 to 10 percent, putting severe pressure on students, universities and academic staff.
This is the hidden truth of University funding.
On the College side: the R7.4 billion allocated to Colleges (54% of what they actually cost to run) is pitiful.
As a result, the savings and investments of institutions – where they have them – have been reduced, and in some cases completely decimated, over the past two years, to pay for the costs of the demands made upon them.
Several Universities are experiencing severe financial stress. Rescue funding might be needed for some.
So serious are the challenges that the department has reduced its growth targets for the next three years.
One-third of our 900 000 university students – some 300 000 – attend UNISA. But UNISA is now creaking at the seams, plagued by inefficiency, and has had to reduce its student numbers, thus slowing the department’s growth ambitions for Universities.
The Universities are stagnating.
But this is nothing compared to Colleges – planned growth by 2020 is down from R1.2 million to R700 000.
Half a million students will not be offered a College place as planned.
Our TVET Colleges are anyway outdated and stale and students are not flocking to attend them. Built in another era, they flounder in the modern economy, and struggle to find staff with the requisite experience, or students with the requisite school subjects.
The Colleges are stagnating.
The third arm of the department, the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), are meant to provide us with another route to skills acquisition, and the R13.6 billion they control should go a lot further than it does. But many of the SETAS remain shaky rent-seeking institutions.
The Minister has abandoned all of his plans to restructure the sector until 2020 and nobody knows what will happen then.
The SETAs are stagnating.
In all three sectors of his department Minister Nzimande is managing a holding operation. Perhaps he is looking forward to 2019 when he retires after the ANC loses the election.
So immense are the needs, both educational and financial, of this sector that I suspect he has given up trying to find ways of meeting them. The bold ambitions of the Post-School Education White Paper, are one by one being shelved.
In fact, of course, in a rapidly changing world, stagnation means decay. History rolls on, and Higher Education stays still.
The Commission of Enquiry into Fee Free Higher Education is due to report in a matter of weeks, and its findings are very likely to be controversial.
Fee decisions for 2018 are going to be considered in the middle of this year. Underfunded Universities and Colleges will have no choice but to increase fees by significant amounts. We all know what that means.
The society is already in a state of generalised anger and upheaval. The President is effectively in hiding from his own people. None of this augurs well for the remainder of this year in both Universities and Colleges.
As is the case in our cities, towns and villages, discontent in our Universities and Colleges will probably once again spill over into damaging protests, led by extremely dissatisfied and highly politicised students and possibly staff.
For this ongoing tragedy, we have only the government to blame.
But the Nuclear Deal remains the number one priority for the Bernie Madoff of South Africa – our chief Ponzi scheme owner, President Jacob Zuma. Shame on him.
The DA, by contrast, is committed to a flourishing Higher Education sector, to an end to waste and neglect and to ensuring that our youth are provided with the skills and knowledge to make a real contribution to a growing economy.

Science and technology in South Africa needs more financial support

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Annelie Lotriet MP, during the Budget Vote on Science and Technology.
Honourable Chairperson,
The role and challenges of Science and Technology were brought to the world’s attention when scientists around the world decided to march for science on 22 April this year.
South Africa’s scientists joined by having a march in Durban. These marches highlighted the critical role of Science and Technology in all of our lives.
The message at the marches was clear: we all benefit from the products of science, technology and innovation. However, we seldom ask or consider how science, technology and innovation (STI) impact on our lives and what is needed to ensure that we continue to benefit from STI.
Without science, technology and innovation we will not be able to address critical and life threatening challenges such as food security, clean water, sufficient energy, preventing and treating diseases, epidemics and climate change.
The investment in Research and Development is crucial for the health, social and economic welfare and growth of any country. Without scientists, researchers and investment in STI, a country cannot develop and progress.
Scientific knowledge should in fact underpin government policy.
Hence, it is essential that there is sustained, adequate and strategic support by government and that an environment is created that will encourage investment in STI.
A country cannot afford to fall behind in the field of STI, as the cost to catch up, has to be measured not only in increased costs, but also missing out on innovation opportunities and knowledge acquisition.
However, not falling behind does not mean that it is sufficient to just maintain the status quo. There is the added challenge of staying abreast with a technological revolution such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally alter our world.
Our country cannot afford to be behind these developments. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has an impact on almost every industry and entire systems of production and management will be transformed. It also has the potential to raise income levels and to improve the quality of life of people.
The Department of Science and Technology has to be at the forefront of this Revolution. Not only in the sense of enabling research and development in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, big data and so forth, but also in terms of research on the effect this revolution will have on jobs, inequality and society as a whole.
All of this however, requires sufficient funding and support.
The question is, does this budget do this?
The budget for the department has increased from R7.4 billion in 2016-17 to R7.5 billion in 2017-18.
Although any increase is welcomed, even as modest, as 1.7%, the reality is that there is in fact a budgetary decrease of 4.3% when inflation is taken into consideration. In other words, the budget for Science and Technology has not increased in real terms.
Not only is inflation a problem, our researchers also have to compete internationally. Equipment, journals and other resources are priced in foreign currency and a weak local currency creates a major obstacle.
According to the World Economic Forum 2016 Global Information Technology Report, the largest barrier in South Africa is reversing the trend of a deteriorating business and innovation environment. There is a deterioration in South Africa’s technology and venture capital availability, government procurement of the latest technologies and the time and procedures it takes to start a business.
Investment in science and R&D plays an important role in raising economic productivity. Stimulating innovation can lead to start-ups, SMMEs and jobs.
However, a concern that was also raised was the bureaucratic stumbling blocks that innovators face when they want to take their innovations to the level of commercialisation especially by starting small businesses.
In a country where we have almost 9 million unemployed people, this is the area where it should be made as easy as possible to become an innovator and to create jobs. It is therefore mind boggling why the ANC rejected the DA’s Red Tape Bill that was designed to make it easier for SMME’s to do business and to create jobs.
The harsh reality in 2017, following the latest decisions by President Zuma, is that we unfortunately now also have to factor in the effect of the country being downgraded to sub investment grade. This will have a negative impact on foreign investment in R&D so desperately needed and will also lead to capital outflow.
This can have a serious effect on the level of investment by local businesses in R&D. Up to now government has been the largest spender on R&D as opposed to the situation in other countries where business drives R&D spend.
This does not auger well for our science institutions. An institution such as the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is dependent on external funding for research. Currently 52% of its budget comes from government and with a cut of R20 million in its budget there is the possible danger of retrenchments. There is a real concern, given the current economic situation, whether the HSRC can remain a going concern. South Africa cannot afford to lose one of the pillars of research.
Another concern that was raised by a number of the entities when the Portfolio Committee interacted with them, was the issue of duplication on the one hand, and fragmentation on the other. It is becoming increasingly important to address this, given the current economic situation. Minister, hopefully this will be addressed in the revised White Paper.
I earlier referred to the international science marches and one of the reasons for these marches is the current international threat to the science project. This is most prominent in the Trump administration in the USA where there have been severe cuts in the science and technology budgets. This concern was also raised by some of the department’s entities as this could have a negative impact on funding from the USA.
These are realities that have to be taken into account and there will have to be contingency planning from the side of government to support the entities affected by this.
Minister, this department is referred to as the “Good News” department. As usual the department and the entities have to be commended for the excellent work they do. However, we cannot continue to expect of them to perform wonders when their financial support is dwindling. Something is going to give.
The ANC-government has not been able to successfully utilise the country’s science and technology potential for sustainable growth and development.
The DA understands the critical role science and technology has to play. And in terms of our vision of freedom, fairness and opportunity, our Innovation policy places innovation at the centre of economic growth and job creation. It focuses on greater coordination and cooperation between the different role players and a simplified coordinated funding system. This is the only way we can provide a bright and sustainable future for generations to come.
This is elegantly described by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:
“Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers – poets, actors, journalists – they, as communities, embrace the meaning of what it is to be scientifically literate. They embrace the concept of an innovation culture. They vote in ways that promote it. They don’t fight science and they don’t fight technology”.

ANC MPs must vote with their conscience, secret ballot or no secret ballot

Fellow South Africans,
We are gathered together here outside the Constitutional Court today to defend our freedom.
The future of our country lies in the hands of 400 Members of Parliament who have sworn to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa.
Very soon, that oath of office will be put to the test.
Very soon, ANC Members of Parliament will have to choose between what is best for themselves and what is best for South Africa.
Because very soon, the 400 Members of the National Assembly will be voting on a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma. (Or perhaps 399 members now that Brian Molefe is back at Eskom.)
They did not swear to be faithful to Jacob Zuma, or to the ANC, or to the Guptas. They promised to be faithful to South Africa, and to the Constitution.
And this is all we ask of them today. We ask them to put South Africa first. No more, no less.
No matter what the Constitutional Court decides today – secret ballot or not – all we ask is that Members of Parliament vote with their conscience.
ANC MPs should not need a secret ballot to do the right thing. They should do it, no matter what.
My vote is not a secret. I will shout it from every rooftop – we will be voting President Zuma out. Every person who loves our country, we call on you to do the same.
We are not gathered here to plead for a secret ballot.
We are not gathered here to influence the court in its decision.
We are gathered here to urge ANC Members of Parliament to do the right thing, even if it is hard.
Many ANC MPs have spoken out against Zuma at meetings. They have spoken out in the media. They have spoken out on the streets. Now it is time to speak out in the only place it can really count: in Parliament.
Every ANC MP who is considering voting for South Africa, we want you to know that you are not alone. The whole country is with you.
The future of our beloved country should not rest on the question of a secret ballot.
It should rest on the willingness of all Members of Parliament to do the honourable thing and put South Africa first.
The future should not be decided in Luthuli House or in Saxonwold. It should be decided in Parliament.
The choice that MPs face is simple:
Are they going to side with a President who has sold our country to the Guptas?
A President who used R250 million of our money on building his palace of corruption?
A President who was found by the Constitutional Court to have violated his oath of office?
Are they going to side with a President who has reduced our country to junk status?
A President under whose watch the economy has stagnated and 9 million South Africans are without work?
Or…are they going to side with the people of South Africa?
Both Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe have called on ANC MPs to vote with their conscience.
And we are here today to do the same. Secret ballot or no secret ballot.
The National Assembly is meant to be the voice of the people. Not the voice of the President. Not the voice of the ANC. Not the voice of the Guptas. But the voice of the people.
And the people say: We want a free South Africa. Not one that has been sold to the highest bidder. We don’t want to be slaves in the Kingdom of Gupta.
We want to be free South Africans in a free South Africa.
A South Africa in which those entrusted with power do the right thing, even when it is hard.

The fight for a better South Africa is the new struggle

The following remarks were delivered by the Democratic Alliance Leader at a press briefing, in Johannesburg, with the Leaders of the APC, AGANG SA, COPE, Freedom Movement, IFP, EFF, UDM, ACDP and SaveSA.
 
As the Democratic Alliance (DA) we stand side-by-side with all political formations, civil society organisations, the Religious Community, and the people of South Africa, who have all called for Jacob Zuma to be removed as President of our country.
As the DA, we will respect the outcome of Monday’s matter before the highest court in the Republic, the Constitutional Court, because unlike those who hold the majority in Parliament we believe in the Constitution, which states that courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.
Those opportunists and Gupta praise singers who say the courts are being used to run the country, fail to see that Zuma and the ANC are damaging the country and believe that some should be allowed to act illegally and unconstitutionally.  It should anger all citizens that the President and his ANC believe that they are above the law. No one is above the law – least not the president.
We are not using the courts to run the country, but rather to hold those in power accountable for their mismanagement of the country and its economy. The Courts are doing their job, and applying the law of the land. This has become inconvenient for a lawless president.
We call upon the ANC to support the upcoming Motion of No Confidence in Zuma because this is not about the Opposition, it is about the future of our nation. This Motion of No Confidence is about 55-million people who are being held hostage by one man and his ruling clique.
The ANC’s choice as simple as it is, has deep implications for all South Africans, especially the poor. The ANC must choose: Zuma or SA; because the two cannot co-exist.
The ANC under Jacob Zuma has radically neglected the Constitution and put the people of South Africa last in every decision they make. They no longer work to advance the country and its economy, they work to radically transform the material wealth of the Gupta family as well as other connected cronies close to Zuma.
The country is fast running out of time under Zuma and the ANC, which has continued to promote and endorse Zuma’s sham presidency. This is a presidency that has been marked by rampant unemployment, crippling corruption and socio economic decay. After 23 years, we should be working together as a people to advance our country and create opportunity for those left behind by Apartheid.
A continued endorsement of Zuma will be an endorsement of a criminal, anarchy and joblessness. If the ANC endorses, protects and promotes Jacob Zuma, then the ANC is Jacob Zuma.
Zuma’s removal from the Union Buildings will ensure that we are able to begin the process of building a better South Africa where there is economic growth and job creation; constitutionalism and national pride.
Finally, I join other Leaders in calling upon all South Africans to join us at Mary Fitzgerald Square on Wednesday, where we will stand united behind the Constitution in our call for Zuma to go and for South Africa to come first.
This is our new struggle for a better South Africa. If we do not fight today, we may not have a country to fight for tomorrow.

Today we elect new leaders. Tomorrow we get to work.

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the Democratic Alliance Leader on day two of the Eastern Cape Provincial Congress at the East London ICC.
Fellow Democrats,
It gives me great pleasure to address you at this hugely significant Provincial Congress.
It is fitting that the first of our Provincial Congresses is held here in the Eastern Cape. This province – and specifically Nelson Mandela Bay Metro – set the stage for last year’s municipal elections.
From the hills of Pondoland to the beaches of the Bay, this province was always the ANC’s. It was their heartland and their stronghold.
But the Eastern Cape is equally important for the DA. It is not only our foot in the door in a province where nobody gave us a chance until very recently, it is also our biggest opportunity to show the country what we can do in government.
And if we wanted a challenge, we certainly got one.
Mayor Trollip and his team inherited a metro in critical condition. From housing lists, to the rollout of services, to corruption and unemployment, Nelson Mandela Bay was handed over in a terrible state.
It is now our job to fix it – to build a metro that can offer a better life for all the people who live there.
Our job is to waste no time in undoing the damage caused by decades of corrupt, uncaring government in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Our job is to turn the metro into a place of growth – where investors see opportunities, where tourists see a world-class destination and where the people of the city can find work.
If we get it right, we can spread our success from here, and in Kouga where we also won and are turning that town around too. We can spread it northwards, and westwards, to the entire Eastern Cape and beyond.
Eight months into the job, it feels like Athol Trollip and his team have been at it for years
The result is an incredible list of achievements in a very short space of time.
For years NMB was the only city without a Metro Police force. Well, now they have one! The DA-led government there has recruited 100 new officers to fight crime and drugs on the city streets.
We’ve already improved the lives of the poorest residents of the city. There is a long way to go, but already 30km of gravel roads have been tarred, and a hundred million rand has been budgeted for more road improvements.
We’ve launched a brand new anti-corruption hotline that has already led to 38 investigations.
Mayor Trollip’s administration has vowed to root out corruption in the city, and he has already frozen suspicious contracts, launched forensic investigations into others and opened Mayoral and Committee meetings to the public and the media.
Something I am very proud of: we have already found, processed and handed over more than 500 title deeds to poor residents, so that they can finally own their homes. That means so much to me! While the rest of the country is talking about empowering poor, mainly black South Africans – we are the only ones actually doing it. We are putting real assets in the hands of the people.
Why, I ask, has the government built houses for people but never allowed them to own those homes by giving them title? It is insulting. It says we cannot trust someone with their own home. We are putting that right.
Nationally, DA government have already handed over more than 75 000 title deeds, and we are just getting started. I am sure we will hit 100 000 soon.
Talk is cheap. Lots of people can shout and scream about “radical economic what what”, as President Zuma calls it. But if you want to see real empowerment happening in the lives of real South Africans, look at what the DA is doing. That is real empowerment!
But we have not stopped there. Hundreds of Bay residents have already graduated from basic skills development programmes.
We are trying to help them get into the job market. It is hard work, and there is much, much more to do. But we are committed to giving people the best chance possible of getting a job.
As we watch the ANC implode around their factional battles and their grab for power, we must remind ourselves of this vision of a South Africa united in its diversity. And we must then elect leaders who are committed to this vision.
It is the sole focus of the DA, and it is far too important to have to take a backseat to sideshows and distractions.
Our project cannot afford to be derailed. Too many people are counting on us to make it work.
And our cause is certainly not helped by public discussions and arguments on topics such as  colonialism.
We live in a time of heightened racial tension, the embers of which are regularly reignited by those who stand to benefit from mistrust and division. But we don’t have to buy into it, and we don’t have to fan the flames.
The DA is a party that unites people. Our core vision – that South Africa belongs to all who live in it – is shared by the vast majority of South Africans. Outside the bubble of social media, our people are not nearly as divided as some would have you believe.
The extreme views frequently expressed on Twitter are not shared by ordinary South Africans. And I certainly don’t share these views.
I don’t believe that there is a widespread campaign to shut down or delegitimise some citizens as less worthy than others.  Sure, some fringe racists believe that. But in the whole, South Africans reject hate and division and just want what is best for their families.
I think it is incredibly damaging – both to us as a party and to our society as a whole – to persist with this narrative.
Putting forward these arguments only serves to place us in opposite corners, and then expects us to defend our corners from those who are different from us. It turns us into opponents, and that is not how we must engage the issue of race in this country.
We must appeal to the best of our humanity, not regress into our racial corners.
We can’t stand united as a nation when we create a contest between black and white, a narrative of domination of one by another.
These aren’t the ideals we must pursue. While others turn South Africa into a bitter contest between majorities and minorities, we will build a party and a South Africa for all, black and white, rich and poor, urban and rural, business and labour.
Our discussion must always begin with: Let me hear from your world.
My job, as Leader of the Democratic Alliance, is to defend, protect and promote our core project of building a united and prosperous South Africa under a new government. And I intend to do my job without fear or favour.
I will not remain silent if anyone within our party steers us away from our task.
The choice is simple: we can either pretend we’re under attack from each other and defend our races, or we can focus on saving our country from the ANC. Only one of these choices will lead us forward.
As we gather here today to elect new leaders – in the province that gave us so many of our country’s struggle stalwarts – we’d do well to reflect on what that struggle was all about.
It was about building a country that belongs to all of us.
It was about building a Constitutional state, capable of protecting and caring for all.
It was about righting the wrongs of our painful history.
It was about building a reconciled society, diverse but united.
These were our goals that we agreed on in 1994, and they remain our goals today.
We must recognise when we’re losing focus of these goals – when we get it wrong and say things that hurt relationships and reopen old wounds.
Our opportunity is now. The crisis in the ANC has opened the door just wide enough for us.
This week Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that the ANC had reached rock bottom.
Let me say this to the ANC today: You’re falling, but you aren’t at rock bottom yet.
You’ll know you’ve hit rock bottom in December, when you elect another Zuma who will change nothing. And you’ll know you’ve hit rock bottom when the voters kick you out of government in 2019.
Friends, Democrats,
Now is our opportunity to step up and lead.
Now is our opportunity to present our vision and our plan to voters.
Now is our chance to show that coalition politics can work in South Africa, and that parties can unite around key issues to govern for the people.
It gives us the opportunity to prove that we won’t tolerate corruption – whether this is from the ANC or from a less-than-ethical coalition partner.
If this means taking a hard line on an ally, then so be it. We have a vision to achieve, and we will not be derailed.
Fellow Democrats,
Everything we do, every decision we make in this time, must help us transition from opposition party to party of national government.
It must guide your work from now on. Whoever is elected today, let me make it clear what the DA expects from you: unity of purpose, hard work, devotion to the task of growing our party and winning the support of our fellow citizens.
Today we elect new leaders. Tomorrow we get to work.

Our unity is our strength, our unity will topple Zuma

Fellow South Africans, the events of the last few weeks have seen South Africans put their differences aside in order to join a united and emergent movement for change.
This is a movement that has seen hundreds of thousands march to Parliament, the Union Buildings and fill the streets of Johannesburg. This movement has brought together business and labour; rich and poor; black and white, all saying the same thing: Zuma must go and South Africa must come first.
Bagaetso, the poet James T. Adair, reminds us that There Is Beauty In The Struggle. There is beauty in the tough times we are facing. This crisis has brought us together. We are united behind putting the country first. We are united in getting rid of those who only undermine the project of building a diverse and growing economy that creates jobs.
We cannot allow this moment of crisis to pass without also seizing the opportunity for unprecedented unity of purpose and action. Now is the time, and we may never see an opportunity like this again.
Jacob Zuma would never have guessed that he would unite the country like never before – in defense of the Constitution, against corruption, against the self-interested destruction of our economy, and against the private capture of our state. Jacob Zuma has united the country – against him.
For years South Africans have called for greater co-operation between opposition parties and civil society. While some progress has been made in the past, it has been halting and painstaking. But sometimes political change happens one step at a time, and sometimes it happens all together and quickly. We are in such a time.
We cannot be distracted by our own hang-ups and baggage, or differences in approach or in policy. By the time we have ironed out all of those differences, the country will be left in tatters. No, we must seize the moment and move forward now, together.
We must prepare ourselves for a post-Zuma, post-ANC future. And that future is brighter than ever! But we must cut out our current national cancer.
We are not saying Zuma must go because we merely oppose him politically, as he has said. We are making this important call because he does not have respect for the country, the Constitution and the people. Jacob Zuma only cares about himself and getting rich at your expense. We are making this call because for as long as Zuma occupies the Union Buildings, the poor and jobless will continue to suffer.
The other day, Zuma was asking for the church to pray for South Africa “so that the respect can come back”. Indeed, respect must come back.
Any president with respect for the responsibility of his Office, and for the sanctity of the Constitution, would have resigned a long time ago.
Any President with respect for the people he is elected to serve, would not steal money, build a palace, or sell the government to the Guptas.
Jacob Zuma has no respect. No respect for the suffering of the poor. No respect for the unemployed who need our country to succeed and grow.
Zuma has sabotaged the country’s economy – now reduced to “junk status” – all for his riches and his own agenda.
Respect for the Constitution must come back, because if there was respect for the highest law of the land, Zuma would have gone, or the ANC would have removed him.
Zuma is the most disrespectful citizen in the country. He has no respect for the country and the people. He is not fit to be called South Africa’s Head of State. Zuma must fall!
We are not backing down. We are determined to ensure that we build a better South Africa.
To the people in the ANC who continue to endorse Zuma, along with his deliberate programme of destroying the country, I want to ask you: How do you sleep at night? How do you look at your children and grandchildren, well knowing that you are personally playing a part in ensuring that there is no future for them?
You have sold their futures to Zuma and the Guptas. Now South Africa is rising up together to get those futures back!
Children do not hate the ANC because they are taught to do so at school. Children hate the ANC because of what the ANC does. Children see when the ANC-led government does not deliver text books and sabotages their futures.
Things are bad now but let me tell you this, Zuma and the ANC will not be around forever. Once the people have dealt with the Zuma problem, the people will deal with the ANC problem by teaching them a lesson at the ballot box in 2019.
The people of South Africa will rise up and punish the ANC for their continued support of Zuma. The people will punish the ANC for not listening, and for protecting and supporting this President.
Fellow South Africans, our work does not end when the marches and protests are over. By the time we are done, Zuma will know exactly what stress feels like. When we are done with Zuma and the ANC, hope for a better South Africa will be restored, and we will turn that hope into reality.
This united movement for change belongs to the people, and as the DA, along with the other Opposition Parties, we will always take up the people’s fight!
Ke a leboga. Baie dankie. I thank you.

Let’s unite in a new Movement for Change

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the DA’s “March for Change” in Johannesburg this morning.
 
My fellow South Africans,
Our country is in crisis, and many feel a deep sense of despair.
But today, looking out at all of you I am filled with hope.
Today is a defining moment in the history of our country.
The moment when South Africans stood together against a corrupt President and his government.
All around the country hundreds of thousands of people are gathering to make their voice heard.
In Pretoria, in Cape Town, in eThekwini, in Mangaung, in Mpumalanga, in the North West
Thousands of businesses are showing their support by shutting their doors for the day.
Workers and employers joining hands.
Political opponents united in a common goal.
Religious leaders from across the spectrum.
Rich, poor, black and white.
We have all had enough of Jacob Zuma and the corrupt ANC government he leads.
We have had enough of the Guptas and their stranglehold on our country and our economy.
We have had enough of our currency being manipulated.
We have had enough of job losses and deepening poverty.
So we are here today to show the world that enough is enough.
That our spirit will not be crushed.
That hope is alive in our country.
And we can rise again.
We are not a “junk” country. Jacob Zuma may have led us to this point, but we are embarking on a movement for change which seeks to create opportunities for all and build a prosperous, diverse nation.
This is a new struggle, a moment we can charter a better tomorrow.
Fellow South Africans, just when Jacob Zuma wants us divided, we are united.
The people of South Africa will never accept the destruction of our country. We will stand up and stop it, together.
Fellow South Africans, 23 years ago, we experienced another defining moment in our history.
In 1994, South Africans from all walks of life – religious, ideological, political, cultural – came together to build a new South Africa.
A united, democratic and non-racial future.
Make no mistake, when we came together, we had our differences. But in the spirit of ubuntu, in the best interests of our country and its future, we united around our shared goals.
It took maturity and it took vision. It took political leaders, business leaders, religious groupings, and civil society organisations who were prepared to rise above their differences.
And in that moment, we achieved something historic.
This consensus led to the adoption of our Constitution that protects everyone’s rights and limits power abuse.
This sacred document that remains our guiding light and moral compass in dark times.
My fellow South Africans, it took all of us.
23 years later, we face another defining moment.
What we choose to do will determine the future of our country for all our children.
Wherever I travel, people affirm that our nation has enormous potential. From the beautiful sands of the Karoo, the majestic wildlife, the efficient sectors of finance, business and labour, and ultimately the talent and ingenuity of our people.
They affirm the belief that our nation can be great, and that we as a people working together can achieve much
It is my great hope that today will give life to a new movement for change.
A movement to end this political monopoly that holds our country back.
A movement that transcends the barriers that divide us.
A movement that rekindles the spirit of 1994.
Fellow South Africans, history will judge us harshly if we miss this opportunity.
The time to act is now.
We cannot wait for the ANC to self-correct.
We need to forge a new path, and decide our own destiny.
We the people shall overcome.
Our country is calling on all of us to achieve this dream.
We will do it by uniting opposition parties around a set of shared values.
We will do it by joining hands with those in the ANC who still have a conscience.
We will do it with the help of business, churches, trade unions and civil society.
South Africa is not the property of one individual, one family or one party.
South Africa belongs to all of us, black and white.
This is our beautiful country. It is time that we took it back.
Let’s unite, let’s begin our work, and let’s usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for our beautiful country.
Our time is now!

We will never stop defending Human Rights

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the DA Leader at a commemoration of Human Rights Day and the Sharpeville Massacre. The Leader was joined by DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Ntsekhe, Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga, Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, and Midvaal Mayor, Bongani Baloyi, as well as survivors of the Sharpeville Massacre, as well as family members of the victims of the Esidimeni tragedy.
Today we think back to dark days when the people of this country were oppressed and impoverished by the dehumanizing system of colonialism, and then Apartheid.
Colonialism and Apartheid stripped South Africans of their dignity. Slavery, forced labour, displacement, violent subjugation, racial classification with its humiliating tests, making people think they were inferior because of the colour of their skin, industrialised exploitation — these things are all, and much else besides, the legacy of those systems of repression and exploitation. 
Now there are some people who believe that this was the price of development and infrastructure.
Well, if this was the price of development, then I say that this price was too high.
Development that is forced upon a country under threat of violence is not human progress. Development achieved by free exchange with the global community, harnessing the best of human ingenuity and fostering a unity of purpose – that is the development we desire.
Because, as a party that stands for individual freedom, we can never condone any aspect of oppression.
The DA will never stop defending human rights, at home or abroad. Oppression has no place in the world we live in.
We will continue to build bridges to unite South Africans, bringing them together when everyone else is seeking to divide them. Madiba dreamed of a country united around a common South African identity, where South Africa would truly belong to all who live in it, both black and white.
We are now the only party that still believes in and works for this vision. The ANC has long abandoned it, they too seek to divide us against each other. They may have abandoned it, but we never will. It is the only sure way to shared prosperity for our country.
We will continue to hold the ANC to account for shielding dictators like Al Bashir.
We will continue to condemn human rights abuses wherever they are committed, whether it is in Zimbabwe, Western Sahara, Sudan, Russia, Syria or anywhere else.
We will continue to fight for the human rights of South Africans here at home, when they are harassed and met with violence from their own government, as they were in Marikana; or when the vulnerable are neglected and left to die, as the “Esidimeni” patients were.
We will stand against the new wave of populists on the right and the left. From Marine Le Pen to Nicolas Maduro. From Donald Trump to Robert Mugabe. From Geert Wilders to Viktor Orban.
Here, at home, we will stand up against those who justify majority tyranny or express sympathy for those systems. Just as we stand up against those who are nostalgic for minority rule.
The painful legacy of colonialism and apartheid is still with us today, and still impacts the way that most South Africans live: cut off from economic opportunity, geographically dislocated and badly educated. These South Africans have been let down by a corrupt ANC government that is more concerned with helping itself and its cronies, than with fixing the inequities of apartheid.
We will continue building a social compact based on non-racialism and reconciliation.
We will continue to stand up for a strong Constitution that protects everybody’s rights.
We will continue to develop new policies that empower South Africans to rise above their circumstances of their birth and build a better future for their families.
We are focusing on expanding opportunities for every child to get the education they need to compete in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century.
We are focusing on skills development for young people, including internships, apprenticeships and vocational training.
And we are looking at ways to grow the economy so that more young people can begin meaningful careers in their chosen fields.
Above all, we are focused on the project of defeating the ANC so that every South African may one day be truly free.
The ANC has become the corrupt and ignoble parasite we were warned against. The ANC cannot be salvaged, it cannot self-correct, it must be defeated at the ballot box.
We will not be derailed by those who put their own interests before the project.
We will not be distracted by sideshows.
We will not be divided.
Together, we will build a non-racial society based on freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.
Ke a leboga. Thank you.