Let’s do for the Eastern Cape what we did for the Western Cape.

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane at the Party’s Provincial Manifesto Launch in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape. Maimane was joined by DA Eastern Cape Premier Candidate, Nqaba Bhanga.

Fellow South Africans,

If you really want to see the difference a particular party can make in government, then you must compare it to another party in government. You must gather facts on the performances of both of them, and hold these facts up alongside each other.

That’s only way to judge a governing party. Not on promises. Not on ideology. Not on distant history. Only on the facts of its track record.

That is what I want to do today. I want to look at two neighbouring provinces – the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape – so that we can make an informed decision about their respective governments.

The Eastern Cape has had an ANC government since the dawn of our democracy in 1994, and the Western Cape has had a DA government for the past ten years – since it took over from the ANC in 2009.

Here we have two provinces that share many similarities. They are similar in size. They are similar in population numbers. They both have long rugged coast lines and beautiful interiors that range from semi-desert Karoo to towering mountain ranges.

They have similar key industries on which their economies depend. Tourism, agriculture and manufacturing employ the vast majority of people in both provinces. They even speak, for the most part, the same languages.

But that is where the similarities end. Because when it comes to the lived experience of the residents of these neighbouring provinces, they might as well be two different countries.

Even just driving across the boundary, you immediately feel the difference beneath the wheels of your car.

One of these provinces has spent the past decade fighting its way back to prosperity and opportunity for its people, while the other has slipped further and further back into poverty and despair.

One is a place to which people flock in search of a better life, while the other is a place that people have to leave in order to survive.

More people leave the Eastern Cape each year than any other province in South Africa. Since 2006, more than 1.5 million people have abandoned the Eastern Cape in search of a better future elsewhere.

This exodus of people is the biggest possible vote of no-confidence in a government, whether they leave in search of work, for access to healthcare, for better living conditions and basic services, or for education opportunities for their children.

It is a shameful reflection of a government that has collapsed this province.

I was speaking with students from the Walter Sisulu University last night, and the conditions I saw there were terrible. The university is in a very poor state because the money Minister Nzimande used to fund his no-fee-increases elsewhere came from “poor” universities like WSU.

And this is the story of the rural Eastern Cape, and rural South Africa under an ANC government. Citizens in these communities have been betrayed. Their children can’t get a decent education, their roads are crumbling and their taps run dry, if they even have taps. They have been forgotten and abandoned.

I know the potential of the Eastern Cape. I used to run an NGO in Keiskammahoek that helped with the development of farmers. I know how fertile this province is – it could be the backbone of our agriculture sector. I also know the enormous potential that lies in tourism here, as well as manufacturing. The Eastern Cape should be booming. There should be a job in every home, in every village.

But instead people have been leaving the province of their birth because there are simply no opportunities for them or their children here. They leave where they cannot see a future, and they go where they think they can build a better life for them and their families.

And one such place is the Western Cape, a province that attracts more and more people each year from all over South Africa. And the reason for this is simple: People go where they are confident life will be better.

People go where the government doesn’t steal public money – where it will spend its budget on the things that improve living conditions. Things like basic service delivery, infrastructure, education and healthcare.

Consider that 83% of Western Cape provincial departments and entities received clean audits last year, while the Eastern Cape managed only 19%. This will give you an idea of how well public money is spent in both provinces.

People go where they know there is a chance of finding work. The expanded unemployment rate here in the Eastern Cape is almost 47%. This means that one out of every two adults here cannot find work. This province has the highest unemployment rate in the whole country.

In the Western Cape the expanded unemployment rate is less than half of this, at 23%. No other province comes close to this. In fact, this is a full 14 percentage points below the national average of 37%.

But the two biggest responsibilities of any provincial government are education and healthcare. This is where it has the most control, and it is where the bulk of its budget is spent.

If you want to judge a provincial government, this is where you look first. And when you look at both education and healthcare in the Eastern Cape you see failed government in every sense of the word.

People go where they know their children will have a better shot at finishing school and preparing themselves for the future, and they go where they know they will be looked after if they become sick or injured.

Now, the ANC government here in the Eastern Cape will say “but we got a 70% matric pass rate”, but what they won’t tell you is the number of learners who never sat down to write that matric exam.

Of the almost 150,000 children who started grade 10 in this province three years ago, less than 66,000 ended up writing matric and only 46,000 passed. That’s why the real pass rate here is not 70% – it’s closer to 30%.

This number of children who stay in school from Grade 10 through matric is called the retention rate. In the Western Cape this is 63%. No other province in the country even achieved above 50%.

What happens to these missing children? What must become of them? There is a reason why parents will give up everything and leave their homes and their families to get their children into schools in the Western Cape. They want their children to have a future that is better than their own. And they know that is only possible under a DA government.

They also know that where the DA governs, the grip that SADTU has over education is at its weakest. And this means that teachers are better held accountable for the outcomes in their classrooms.

Where SADTU is strong, education fails. This is clear in a province like the Eastern Cape, where officials steal money from school feeding schemes, where teachers go missing on payday and where SADTU members take turns in making long weekends out of normal weekends. People leave to escape this failed education.

People go where they know the government will keep the taps running and the lights on. The Western Cape faced three years of intense drought, but managed to avoid Day Zero by harnessing the combined power and resourcefulness of government, business and ordinary citizens.

But here in the Eastern Cape many municipalities are facing their own Day Zero, with no such plan from their government to stop this from happening. The residents of Makhanda have already woken to dry taps, as did the residents of Queenstown last year.

Moving from one province to another is a very clear vote. It is a vote for a government that is caring, capable and corruption-free, and it is a vote against a government that has betrayed the trust of the people.

But, fellow South Africans, this cannot be the future of the Eastern Cape.

This incredible province cannot simply be a place from which people flee – the forgotten province. There is way too much potential among these people, in this land and in these cities, towns and villages for us to allow this to happen.

This province is very special to me – it is the home province of my mother. This is the province that once produced our country’s greatest leaders, but just look at its leadership now. It is now the province of people like Andile Lungisa. It is now the province that cannot hold an ANC conference without chairs being thrown around. It is a province that has been failed by its government. And that must change.

The future of someone growing up in the Eastern Cape should be just as bright as that of someone in the Western Cape. There is no reason this province cannot make the same turnaround that the Western Cape did ten years ago. There is no reason why this can’t also be a place of growth, jobs and opportunities – a place where people come to instead of leave.

All it takes is a government like the one in the Western Cape. A government that genuinely cares, a government staffed only by capable candidates and a government that does not tolerate the theft and mismanagement of the people’s money.

There is only one option for such a government, and that is the DA. So when it is time to make your mark on the ballot paper in two months’ time, think very carefully about what you want for the future of the Eastern Cape, and then choose that future.

You don’t have to vote with your feet and leave this great province. You can vote with your ballot and get a far better result. You can vote for change.

This change has already started on campuses across the Eastern Cape, where DASO has been racking up the victories.

This change has already come to NMB, where the people said enough is enough, and voted the ANC out.

This change has even started right here in Lusikisiki, in Ward 9, where the DA grew from just 6% to almost 25% in a by-election last year.

The Eastern Cape is ready for change, fellow South Africans.

Join me on 8 May as we paint this province, and the country, blue.

The young people at Fort Hare are ready to embrace a new future

The following speech was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the DA’s Youth Day Rally at Fort Hare University in Alice, Eastern Cape. Maimane was joined by DA Eastern Cape Provincial Leader, Nqaba Bhanga, DA Youth Federal Leader, Luyolo Mphithi, DA Students Organisation (DASO) Constituency Head for Eastern Cape and MP, Hlomela Bucwa, DAY EC Chairperson, Mawethu Kosani and DASO UFH President Xolani Jaji.

My fellow South Africans,

It is an honour for me to address you here on Youth Day at Fort Hare University. This institution has played a significant role in the history of our country. For over a hundred years, Fort Hare has stood at the forefront of social and political change in South Africa.

Some of our country’s greatest leaders and stalwarts of the struggle passed through here. People like Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. There is a rich history of black leadership that can trace its academic and intellectual roots all the way back here to Alice.

And last month’s SRC election proved that Fort Hare is still at the forefront of change and progress in our society. Because, in electing a DASO-led SRC, the students here have shown that they are prepared to take a bold new step towards a future not necessarily dominated by the ANC.

This university – and particularly this campus in Alice – has always been an ANC stronghold. This has always been their intellectual home. For the students of this campus to turn their backs on the ANC and SASCO, is a significant development.

They have shown that they can break with tradition in the interest of progress. They have shown that if the party of their parents and the party of the struggle is no longer relevant to them, then they are willing to seek out a party that is concerned about the issues that are important to them.

Many of the students here at Fort Hare don’t have it easy. Many of them come from poor households, many fought a hard battle to get here. And once here, life doesn’t get any easier. Accommodation is often overpriced and sub-standard. Funding for fees is insufficient. Then there’s books and stationery and a host of other crippling costs. It all adds up.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has just admitted that more than 120,000 students nationwide have been affected by delays in the payment of their allowances. This is money these students desperately need for food, accommodation and other expenses on campus. Most of them have no other safety net to rely on. Most of them are affected by intergenerational poverty – a cycle that is very hard to break.

If you’re a student facing these hardships, then you will want people on your SRC who will stand up for you. You will gravitate towards those who speak of the things that affect you, and who then go beyond speaking and actually fight on your behalf. That’s what happened here in Alice. A significant majority recognised that there is only one student organisation on this campus that truly fights for the students.

We have seen DASO victories on campuses elsewhere in South Africa too, but this one here is particularly significant given the history of this place. This is a shift in momentum that cannot be ignored.

What happened here on this campus is a reflection of what is happening in our country as a whole. As our democracy matures, our political landscape is changing. South Africans are slowly moving away from the idea that their vote should be tied to their identity. There is a growing realisation that the only deciding factor when casting your vote should be the ideas of the parties involved – their vision for the future of our country, their policies through which they hope to achieve this vision, and the values that underpin their offer.

This shift is desperately needed in our country right now. We need a fresh start, and we need it soon, because life is hard for the millions of people who find themselves locked out of our economy.

And this is particularly true for young South Africans. Even the lucky few who make it to university and leave here with a degree will find it harder and harder to break into the economy as opportunities dry up.

Right now there are almost 9.5 million South Africans who cannot find work. For those under the age of 24, there is a two in three chance of being unemployed. That’s our ticking time bomb. We cannot even think of building a prosperous country if we don’t have a plan to bring our young people into the economy.

Yes, we need them to find employment. But we also need them to become employers. We need to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, and then do all we can to ensure that our young entrepreneurs succeed. Not just for their sake, but for the sake of our country. Our collective future depends on it.

We must accept that not everyone leaving school will qualify for higher education, and so our plan must include a range of options for everyone. We must dramatically expand internships and apprenticeships for school-leavers. But we must go beyond that and consider solutions like a year of national youth civilian service. Anything to enable young people to get a foot on the jobs ladder.

Opening opportunities for young South Africans must be our obsessive focus. Ours must be a cradle-to-career plan that includes improving our early childhood development centres, fixing our failing basic education system and expanding access to tertiary education, with a truly progressive funding model where the poor are subsidised but those who can afford to pay do so.

As we reflect today on the sacrifices made by our youth in the history of our country, let us also look to the future and ask what role our youth should play in building a country that works for all.

And when I see what the students here at Fort Hare have done, I am filled with optimism. Because if they can break from history and place their trust in an SRC that speaks for them, then there is no reason why the rest of the country can’t do the same with their government.

PE College students vote for change

The student representative council (SRC) elections held at Port Elizabeth College on Thursday was a significant accomplishment for the DA Students’ Organisation (DASO) as, for the first time ever, SASCO, could not win a majority in the SRC.

DASO and SASCO each claimed five seats while the EFF won two seats on the council. This follows a month after DASO took total control of the SRC at the University of Fort Hare.

These results show that the youth of the Eastern Cape are able to find a home in the DA and will put their trust in the party.

The DA congratulates DASO for bringing change to PE College and would like to thank all the students who came out to support the DA.

DASO will now work tirelessly to champion the pressing issues facing PE College students.

DASO claims another historic victory at University of Fort Hare

The DA Students Organisation (DASO) yet again made history after emerging victorious in yesterday’s University of Fort Hare’s Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. In so doing DASO wrestled control of the SRC away from the ANC-aligned SASCO.

In 2015 DASO made history when it won control of the UFH SRC for the very first time.

UFH students have grown increasingly confident in DASO student leaders, who show commitment to fighting for better student conditions and increased access. DASO is now governing the historic Alice campus and also holds the majority of the seats in the Institutional SRC – which is the highest decision-making body.

The DA congratulates DASO for bringing total change to the University of Fort Hare. DASO would like to thank all of the students at Fort Hare who came out to support the DA and will now work tirelessly in leading the SRC to champion the pressing issues facing UFH students.

Fees Commission a delaying tactic by the ANC

The leaked Fees Commission Report indicates that a cost-free learning model at higher education institutions is not possible. It is clear that this commission was a waste of time and most likely a delaying tactic by the ANC government, at a great cost to the taxpayer.
This is an old trick used by the failing ANC as it is easier to move deadlines and change the conversation rather than addressing the root of the problem.
This money could have been better spent on poor students who continue to feel excluded from accessing quality higher education.
DASO is an organisation which represents all students, and our mandate demands that no student is left behind. It is therefore on this basis that we reject the leaked report.
President Zuma’s government is detached from the everyday struggles of poor students and would rather play politics than find solutions to the student’s welfare.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and DASO support a full funding model which will allow free education for the poor and free cost of study subsidy at varying levels of the missing middle. Our model will see funding allocated within certain income brackets per family per annum.
As an example, families earning per annum between:

  • R0 – R200,000 will receive free full cost of study funding for qualifying students
  • R200,000 – R350,000 will receive 66% of the full cost of study funded
  • R350,000 – R500,00 will receive 33% of the full cost of study funded

In the immediate term, DASO will reject any rampant fee increments for the poor and missing middle. Fee increases by tertiary institutions to plug a funding shortfall will only serve to exclude poor students and set them up to fail. Yet tertiary institutions need financial assistance from the ANC government who have caused this crisis due to chronic underfunding of the sector.
NSFAS has been perennially grossly underfunded and this has meant that more students who qualify for funding are excluded. It, therefore, does not make sense to continue raising fees for students who are evidently struggling to pay the prevailing fees struggle.
DASO will continue with its programme of engaging with students at every university campus to ensure that their voices are heard and an acceptable solution is found to the funding crisis. We are organising students across the country to mobilise against the ANC government which will never solve the fees crisis.
The ANC has forgotten the students who deserve a better future. DASO will not forget nor will we stop fighting for the rights of students to ensure they have what they need to achieve their dreams and a better life.

DASO candidate elected Deputy President of SRC at eMalahleni TUT

The Democratic Alliance Students Organisations (DASO) in Mpumalanga wishes to congratulate our student at the eMalahleni TUT campus, Mr Marcus Mdau, for being elected Deputy President of the 2017/2018 Student Representative Council.
After a hotly contested SRC election which resulted in the DASO structure receiving one seat, a decision was made by all student political groups that the DASO student be placed as Deputy to the helm.
It is the first time DASO has ever contested on this campus and true to our form, we have hit the ground running. It seems students from the campus agreed with Marcus’ presentation of our manifesto, as DASO is associated to decisive decision making, addressing issues on campus and forming part of DASO Mpumalanga quest in trying to address the ever tedious and ever volatile NSFAS funding woes.

President Zuma must release the Fees Commission report within 10 days

The Fees Commission, set up in 2016 following the violent protests that rocked Higher Education Institutions, submitted their findings to the President on Thursday, 31 August 2017.
The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) is of the opinion that this was yet another delaying tactic employed by the ANC government to divert attention from the fact that this crisis was caused by the two decades of neglect and underfunding of this vital sector by the ANC.
Nonetheless, to address the higher education funding crisis and to ensure that no student is excluded because they cannot afford to further their education, the Democratic Alliance made extensive submissions to the Fees Commission.
In order for DASO to advocate for the funding model in the financial budget review in Parliament, we need the president to act.
We, therefore, call on President Zuma to review the report urgently and to release it to the public within 10 working days.
In the DA’s submissions to the Commission we made arguments for:

  1. Protecting against rampant fee increases while improving the quality of education by restoring state subsidies to Universities to an appropriate level;
  2. Funding NSFAS at a higher level, using updated and nuanced criteria, to provide adequate support for the poor and “Missing Middle”.
  3. Continuing to collect fees from the wealthy.
  4. Stabilising University student numbers so as to permit stabilisation of funding whilst at the same time fixing the TVET sector so as to make it a credible career path in order to find a decent job within our economy.
  5. Revising the subsidy formula in order to ensure the sustainability of universities and improve the quality of graduates.
  6. Expanding NSFAS criteria to include students from the “Missing Middle” immediately so that all applicants from households with an annual income of up to R500 000 have a fair chance to apply for student financial aid;
  7. Introducing a tiered system of loans/grants so that those in the “Missing Middle” who can afford to pay a portion of their expenses receive proportional assistance
  8. Ensuring that no university student who successfully obtains an award under NSFAS receives less than his or her full cost of study, residence costs, and adequate food, books stipend and transport where necessary (subject to the tiered system);
    • Simplify and streamline the NSFAS process to minimise administrative costs and prevent surpluses.
    • Significant efforts should be made to increase third stream income as a source of finance but it cannot realistically be considered the route to meeting current shortfalls.
  9. Exploring a variety of alternative funding sources, including:
    • Setting up partnerships with the private sector, and the banking sector, in particular, to increase access to loans, improve the efficiency of collections and widen the pool of funds available.
    • Reducing the number of prestige items in the national budget and redirecting the funds towards University education
    • Developing a more efficient debt-collection system within NSFAS
    • Ensuring that more students obtain loans than bursaries from NSFAS to protect funding for future generations.

DASO has also committed to the following plan of action to ensure that no student is left behind:

  • Protesting at ANC offices across the country to have the fees commission report implemented;
  • We will continue to oppose shutdowns which have patently prejudiced poor students the worst and have done nothing to affect the patronage priorities of the ANC government;
  • We will also be taking on SETAs who are not paying out students with the massive budgets that are being largely mismanaged and advocating for an increase in internships/apprentices for TVET college students;
  • We will be making overtures to business people and to the private sector at large in order to encourage the availability of more bursaries and employment opportunities, especially work-based experience for our graduates;
  • DASO will support the Democratic Alliance’s call in parliament tomorrow to call for emergency elections. It is vital that we continue to lobby for the best interests of citizens and students to ensure that we achieve total change and a new beginning.

The ANC government has failed the youth of South Africa and the status quo cannot continue. It can no longer be business as usual while our brothers and sisters continue to live in dire poverty when students are forced to pack their bags and go home due to lack of funding when our students sleep in offices and bathrooms because they cannot afford accommodation.
We can no longer remain silent while students go to bed on empty stomachs, while they have no proper infrastructure and are subjected to the outdated curriculum in our TVETs, while those who surpass all obstacles are denied their certificates due to funding.
Essentially, DASO is calling for free quality higher education for the poor, subsidies for the missing middle and those who can afford must fund themselves based on the full cost of study.
We will do all this in line with our vision of an open and free educational environment that is uniquely South African, in which every person has the Freedom to pursue their own aspirations, Fairness to chase their dreams and turn them into a reality and in which every person has the Opportunity to improve the quality of their life.
For the full brief of today’s press conference click here

DASO wins Presidency at Lovedale College and assumes control of the Alice Campus

Students of the Lovedale TVET College have elected the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) candidate, Zikona Mbewu, as the SRC President of the college. Yesterday, DASO also assumed control of the Alice Campus SRC with an overwhelming majority of 5 out of 7 seats.
DASO in the Eastern Cape welcomes these results with great excitement. More and more South African students trust the DA and DASO to represent them. Our share of the votes grew from 15% to 46% in the last election.
It reflects the growing support and trust that the DA has amongst young South Africans from poor and vulnerable backgrounds who are desperate for an alternative that can give them the opportunities to break out of the shackles of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment.
Lovedale College Alice Campus students have exercised their right to vote for a well-run SRC that will ensure a safe, caring, inclusive and forward-thinking campus with opportunities for all students.
We would like to thank all these students for their support in this election and all our activists who have worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to ensure that we secure a victory for students. When DASO wins, all students win.
This win will allow us to attempt to put an end to the years of corruption and mismanagement by both the SASCO-led SRCs and alleged ANC-aligned management at the campus. We are confident that the best days are ahead of us and soon Lovedale College students will finally see an SRC that works selflessly and advocates for their needs and welfare.

DASO condemns the second recent killing at Walter Sisulu University

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) condemns the recent killing of yet another Walter Sisulu University student who has been allegedly stabbed and killed by his roommate after a “fun” weekend of heavy drinking.
DASO will write to the Higher Education Portfolio Committee, requesting them to conduct oversight at this institution and address the safety concerns of the students.
We will also visit the university in the next few days to discuss the issues of violence on campus and student safety with the management and the student leadership.
Aphelele Ntobongwana, an electrical engineering student from Libode was stabbed on Sunday afternoon at the male residence Destiny Two. This comes only three months after Lwando Mantshontsho was assaulted and killed on the Mthatha Campus.
We strongly condemn these criminal acts and call on the University and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to prosecute the student responsible for this.
In recent years, over six students have been killed on Walter Sisulu University campuses with alcohol reportedly playing a major role in the violence.
We believe that our campuses should remain safe spaces of living and learning with all students feeling secured.
Violence on our campuses is not only an issue at WSU, but across institutions all over the country.
We continue to call on the management of all institutions together with the Department of Higher Education to prioritise and address safety issues on our campuses by:

  • deploying well-trained and qualified security personnel;
  • installing monitored CCTV cameras; and most importantly; and
  • strictly regulating the use of alcohol on our campuses and promoting responsible use.

We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends  of the student whose life has been cut short. We further call for calm and peace amongst students on campus in this difficult time.

Historical victory for DASO at UP

Yesterday, the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) received a resounding mandate to provisionally govern the SRC at the University of Pretoria (UP).
DASO won all 10 portfolios that it contested. This reaffirms the growing sentiment among South African students who trust DASO to put them first as their student representatives.
DASO would like to thank all UP students that have entrusted us with their support. We commit to doing justice to the faith shown in us.
We are excited to bring good governance to the institution with DASO provisionally holding 10 of the 12 seats. Our candidates are elected to the following portfolios:

  • Kwena Moloto for SRC President
  • Soraia Machado for SRC Secretary
  • Lihle Ngubane for Transformation & Student Success
  • Akhona Mdunge for Study Finance
  • Obakeng Sepeng for Societies
  • Jodie Chikowi for Postgraduate & International Student Affairs
  • Kyle Goosen for Marketing, Media & Communications
  • Lindi Mtsweni for Facilities, Safety & Security
  • Stanford Ndlovu for Day Students & External Campus Affairs
  • Duane van Wyk for SRC Treasurer

Opposition student political organisations have until Friday, 25 August at 09:00 to lodge objections at the IEC offices.
We are confident that the election was free and fair and we are readying our SRC members to serve all the students at the University of Pretoria, particularly the most poor and vulnerable.
This result reflects the growing support and trust that the DA has amongst young South Africans who recognise us as the only credible alternative for delivering skills, jobs and good governance.
Our DASO structures are working tirelessly to ensure that in addition to representing students successfully on student councils, we work with our local government to support our students and convince other students to deliver a DA-led government in 2019 to fix the broken and underfunded Higher Education and Training Sector.