BOKAMOSO | Home ownership can help unlock real freedom

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a Freedom Day celebration in Soshanguve in Tshwane on Friday.

Fellow South Africans

We call today Freedom Day because on this day, 24 years ago, we set off on a road that was going to deliver freedom for all our people. On that day almost 20 million South Africans visited voting stations to have their say in our first democratically elected government. They voted freely, but they were not free yet.

As Nelson Mandela remarked in 1995, on the one-year anniversary of our first election: “The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised”. He knew that the symbolic freedom of the vote would have to be followed by the true freedom that comes with economic inclusion.

Which brings me to this venue. The reason we’re celebrating Freedom Day here at the Thorntree housing development in Soshanguve is because this is what the beginning of real freedom looks like. Owning a house like this, with full title deed, is a big step down the road towards independence.

Property ownership is about much more than simply having a roof over your head. It’s about building an investment in your future, and the future of your family.

When your name is on the title deed to that home, it means that you can unlock capital to realise your dreams. You can start a business. You can borrow money from a bank without being punished with the high interest rates charged by short-term lenders.

Owning your own home also means that you can improve your investment. You can take pride in turning it into exactly the house you want, knowing that every little upgrade you do will make it worth more to you.

But there’s another important reason why owning your own home is so important. We often hear about the disadvantage that young black South Africans have when starting out in life, but we don’t always talk about what that means. So let me explain one aspect to you here: the idea of an inheritance.

Even if all opportunities in our society are equal, most young black South Africans start off on the back foot because they have to start building a life from scratch. They will not receive the financial kick-start that many white South Africans get through inheritance.

And I’m not talking about millions of Rands. I’m talking about the kind of security that ownership of a house like this can provide.

If we want to break the cycle of poverty that still entraps so many black people in South Africa, then we have to start building the cycle of ownership. And the best way to do this is by turning people into home-owners.

At the stroke of a pen, poor people’s lives can be transformed across many generations. That’s real freedom.

Now I know the issue of land expropriation is a hot topic right now. Our opponents can’t stop talking about it, and it is clear that this is going to be their election campaign for the next year.

They claim to be talking for all South Africans when they say that land expropriation without compensation is the path to freedom for poor South Africans. But if we’re going to talk about the issue of land and home ownership on this Freedom Day, then we have to ask ourselves: Whose freedom exactly?

Expropriating land so that the state can own it and lease it out to the poor won’t empower anyone. Yet this is the plan that is being offered as a solution to our country’s inequality.

But that’s not freedom. Living in your house or on your farm as a tenant of the state is just another way to keep people trapped in poverty.

True freedom is individual freedom. It’s when every man, woman and child is individually empowered to live life the way they choose. The state can’t be empowered on your behalf.

That’s why the DA believes in real land reform, where the ultimate goal is for South Africans to own their homes and their land, and where their right to own their property is not threatened by government.

And we’re the only party committed to this. We get insulted and threatened for not going along with the ANC and the EFF’s idea of land expropriation. But theirs is a terrible idea that will do nothing for the individual freedom of poor black South Africans.

The DA wants you to own your home or the land you farm on. We want this to be your weapon against poverty. We want you to improve and grow this investment. We want you to be able to one day sell it and make a profit, if that’s what you choose. And we want you to be able to pass it on to your children.

That’s why the DA leads the way when it comes to giving people ownership of their homes. Since 2016, our governments here in Tshwane and in Johannesburg have already handed over almost 10,000 title deeds. In the Western Cape we have handed over more than 90,000 title deeds since 2009.

We believe property ownership is your foot in the door. It’s your first step towards financial freedom and independence.

Fellow South Africans,

We’ve come a long way since the 27th of April 1994. We’ve made a lot of progress in this country, but in some ways we’ve also lost a lot of ground.

Many of the promises made back then seem further away today than ever before. More of our people live in poverty than ever before. More of our people can’t find jobs than ever before. More of our people have given up on the promise of freedom.

This has led to much anger and frustration, which we see spill onto the streets of our nation almost daily. But it has also led to a new wave of blame and scapegoating for the troubles in our society.

Lately we’ve seen many people try to re-write large parts of our history in an attempt to excuse their failure to help millions of South Africans secure their freedom. This blame is directed at struggle heroes, at brave journalists, at the TRC and even at our Constitution. Anything to distract and deflect from the real issues.

The other day someone tried to insult me on Twitter by calling me a junior Mandela sell-out. At what point did Mandela become an insult? At what point did reconciliation become less desirable than retribution?

We are told today that Section 25 of our Constitution – the part that protects property rights – must be rewritten. As if expropriating property without compensation and giving it to the state will solve any of the issues faced by poor, landless South Africans. It won’t, of course, but it will serve to distract and deflect from the things that kept these people poor and landless.

I have often wondered what our alternative path would have looked like if we hadn’t followed Mandela’s efforts to build a united, peaceful nation. Would our economy have ended up like Chavez’s Venezuela? Would we have ended up like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Would we have descended into civil war? We avoided these outcomes because we chose, back then, to build one South Africa for all.

Today, our country is again in need of healing. Again, we are faced with the choice of dividing our people or uniting them. Of dwelling on the past and opening up old wounds, or looking to the future and building a shared tomorrow.

And again, we simply must make the correct choice. We must pursue – and we must evangelise – the cause of true freedom. And we must turn our backs on those who keep us locked in battle with one another.

Because that is what liberation movements are – and we have seen this all over the continent – they exist to keep nations in constant struggle. They have to keep fighting enemies, and so they have to keep inventing new ones. Even if that means rewriting history and tarnishing the names of heroes.

But, fellow South Africans, while we must reject the divisive talk and blame games of the liberation movement, this doesn’t mean we can ignore the legacy of centuries of colonial and apartheid oppression.

Ours is still a deeply unjust and unequal society. And ours is still a society infected with racism and prejudice. It must be our focus to heal our country, both economically and socially. And the only way we will do so is together.

We need to rebuild our economy to include those who have been left out.

We need to resolve the land issue within the framework of our Constitution.

We need to fix our broken basic education system so that our children are not left behind.

And we need to entrust our people with the capital required to progress in life – both the physical capital of home, land and business ownership, as well as the social capital that so many white South Africans use to get ahead, but that is still denied so many black South Africans.

I mentioned this earlier when I spoke of building an inheritance. But this entrenched social capital goes beyond what you own. It is what and who you know too.

My wife and I appeared to have started off in similar places in life, but in reality there was a marked difference between us. She was all but guaranteed university entrance, she knew all the right schools, she could start a business if she wanted to thanks to a network of people willing and able to assist her financially and through advice.

For many white South Africans, this is the case. They have the benefit of a head start purely through the knowledge their social network carries. And I say this not to make white South Africans feel guilty about it, but to point out where we need to get to for our black sisters and brothers too.

Black South Africans aren’t poor because they are black. They are poor because they are still enslaved by a system that keeps them poor. A system that denies them their freedom every day.

This system is no longer apartheid or colonialism. This system is a set of policies, written and implemented by the ANC government, that has failed our country in every possible way. And yet we keep on banging our heads against that same wall.

It doesn’t matter who leads this ANC government if he’s going to remain committed to the policies that paralyze our economy and protect the insiders at the expense of the outsiders.

It doesn’t matter how much our media fawn over our new president if he still sticks to an economic plan that has seen our industrial output stagnate for more than a decade.

It doesn’t matter how much more presentable he is than Jacob Zuma if he is not prepared to make the structural changes to our economy that will allow the millions of outsiders a foot in the door.

We don’t need a more palatable ANC. We need a whole new start with an entirely new set of policies that can unlock the potential of this country.

There’s only one party with such a set of policies and that’s the DA.

There’s only one party committed to building a united nation with a shared future for all.

There’s only one party that wants to make real home-owners of millions of South Africans.

There’s only one party fighting for true freedom for all our people.

And I assure you, my fellow South Africans, it is a fight the DA will ultimately win.

Thank you.

Home ownership can help unlock real freedom

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a Freedom Day celebration in Soshanguve in Tshwane today. The Leader was joined by Mayor Solly Msimanga, Mayor Bongani Baloyi, Regional Chairperson Abel Tau and DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey.

Fellow South Africans

We call today Freedom Day because on this day, 24 years ago, we set off on a road that was going to deliver freedom for all our people. On that day almost 20 million South Africans visited voting stations to have their say in our first democratically elected government. They voted freely, but they were not free yet.

As Nelson Mandela remarked in 1995, on the one-year anniversary of our first election: “The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised”. He knew that the symbolic freedom of the vote would have to be followed by the true freedom that comes with economic inclusion.

Which brings me to this venue. The reason we’re celebrating Freedom Day here at the Thorntree housing development in Soshanguve is because this is what the beginning of real freedom looks like. Owning a house like this, with full title deed, is a big step down the road towards independence.

Property ownership is about much more than simply having a roof over your head. It’s about building an investment in your future, and the future of your family.

When your name is on the title deed to that home, it means that you can unlock capital to realise your dreams. You can start a business. You can borrow money from a bank without being punished with the high interest rates charged by short-term lenders.

Owning your own home also means that you can improve your investment. You can take pride in turning it into exactly the house you want, knowing that every little upgrade you do will make it worth more to you.

But there’s another important reason why owning your own home is so important. We often hear about the disadvantage that young black South Africans have when starting out in life, but we don’t always talk about what that means. So let me explain one aspect to you here: the idea of an inheritance.

Even if all opportunities in our society are equal, most young black South Africans start off on the back foot because they have to start building a life from scratch. They will not receive the financial kick-start that many white South Africans get through inheritance.

And I’m not talking about millions of Rands. I’m talking about the kind of security that ownership of a house like this can provide.

If we want to break the cycle of poverty that still entraps so many black people in South Africa, then we have to start building the cycle of ownership. And the best way to do this is by turning people into home-owners.

At the stroke of a pen, poor people’s lives can be transformed across many generations. That’s real freedom.

Now I know the issue of land expropriation is a hot topic right now. Our opponents can’t stop talking about it, and it is clear that this is going to be their election campaign for the next year.

They claim to be talking for all South Africans when they say that land expropriation without compensation is the path to freedom for poor South Africans. But if we’re going to talk about the issue of land and home ownership on this Freedom Day, then we have to ask ourselves: Whose freedom exactly?

Expropriating land so that the state can own it and lease it out to the poor won’t empower anyone. Yet this is the plan that is being offered as a solution to our country’s inequality.

But that’s not freedom. Living in your house or on your farm as a tenant of the state is just another way to keep people trapped in poverty.

True freedom is individual freedom. It’s when every man, woman and child is individually empowered to live life the way they choose. The state can’t be empowered on your behalf.

That’s why the DA believes in real land reform, where the ultimate goal is for South Africans to own their homes and their land, and where their right to own their property is not threatened by government.

And we’re the only party committed to this. We get insulted and threatened for not going along with the ANC and the EFF’s idea of land expropriation. But theirs is a terrible idea that will do nothing for the individual freedom of poor black South Africans.

The DA wants you to own your home or the land you farm on. We want this to be your weapon against poverty. We want you to improve and grow this investment. We want you to be able to one day sell it and make a profit, if that’s what you choose. And we want you to be able to pass it on to your children.

That’s why the DA leads the way when it comes to giving people ownership of their homes. Since 2016, our governments here in Tshwane and in Johannesburg have already handed over almost 10,000 title deeds. In the Western Cape we have handed over more than 90,000 title deeds since 2009.

We believe property ownership is your foot in the door. It’s your first step towards financial freedom and independence.

Fellow South Africans,

We’ve come a long way since the 27th of April 1994. We’ve made a lot of progress in this country, but in some ways we’ve also lost a lot of ground.

Many of the promises made back then seem further away today than ever before. More of our people live in poverty than ever before. More of our people can’t find jobs than ever before. More of our people have given up on the promise of freedom.

This has led to much anger and frustration, which we see spill onto the streets of our nation almost daily. But it has also led to a new wave of blame and scapegoating for the troubles in our society.

Lately we’ve seen many people try to re-write large parts of our history in an attempt to excuse their failure to help millions of South Africans secure their freedom. This blame is directed at struggle heroes, at brave journalists, at the TRC and even at our Constitution. Anything to distract and deflect from the real issues.

The other day someone tried to insult me on Twitter by calling me a junior Mandela sell-out. At what point did Mandela become an insult? At what point did reconciliation become less desirable than retribution?

We are told today that Section 25 of our Constitution – the part that protects property rights – must be rewritten. As if expropriating property without compensation and giving it to the state will solve any of the issues faced by poor, landless South Africans. It won’t, of course, but it will serve to distract and deflect from the things that kept these people poor and landless.

I have often wondered what our alternative path would have looked like if we hadn’t followed Mandela’s efforts to build a united, peaceful nation. Would our economy have ended up like Chavez’s Venezuela? Would we have ended up like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Would we have descended into civil war? We avoided these outcomes because we chose, back then, to build one South Africa for all.

Today, our country is again in need of healing. Again, we are faced with the choice of dividing our people or uniting them. Of dwelling on the past and opening up old wounds, or looking to the future and building a shared tomorrow.

And again, we simply must make the correct choice. We must pursue – and we must evangelise – the cause of true freedom. And we must turn our backs on those who keep us locked in battle with one another.

Because that is what liberation movements are – and we have seen this all over the continent – they exist to keep nations in constant struggle. They have to keep fighting enemies, and so they have to keep inventing new ones. Even if that means rewriting history and tarnishing the names of heroes.

But, fellow South Africans, while we must reject the divisive talk and blame games of the liberation movement, this doesn’t mean we can ignore the legacy of centuries of colonial and apartheid oppression.

Ours is still a deeply unjust and unequal society. And ours is still a society infected with racism and prejudice. It must be our focus to heal our country, both economically and socially. And the only way we will do so is together.

We need to rebuild our economy to include those who have been left out.

We need to resolve the land issue within the framework of our Constitution.

We need to fix our broken basic education system so that our children are not left behind.

And we need to entrust our people with the capital required to progress in life – both the physical capital of home, land and business ownership, as well as the social capital that so many white South Africans use to get ahead, but that is still denied so many black South Africans.

I mentioned this earlier when I spoke of building an inheritance. But this entrenched social capital goes beyond what you own. It is what and who you know too.

My wife and I appeared to have started off in similar places in life, but in reality there was a marked difference between us. She was all but guaranteed university entrance, she knew all the right schools, she could start a business if she wanted to thanks to a network of people willing and able to assist her financially and through advice.

For many white South Africans, this is the case. They have the benefit of a head start purely through the knowledge their social network carries. And I say this not to make white South Africans feel guilty about it, but to point out where we need to get to for our black sisters and brothers too.

Black South Africans aren’t poor because they are black. They are poor because they are still enslaved by a system that keeps them poor. A system that denies them their freedom every day.

This system is no longer apartheid or colonialism. This system is a set of policies, written and implemented by the ANC government, that has failed our country in every possible way. And yet we keep on banging our heads against that same wall.

It doesn’t matter who leads this ANC government if he’s going to remain committed to the policies that paralyze our economy and protect the insiders at the expense of the outsiders.

It doesn’t matter how much our media fawn over our new president if he still sticks to an economic plan that has seen our industrial output stagnate for more than a decade.

It doesn’t matter how much more presentable he is than Jacob Zuma if he is not prepared to make the structural changes to our economy that will allow the millions of outsiders a foot in the door.

We don’t need a more palatable ANC. We need a whole new start with an entirely new set of policies that can unlock the potential of this country.

There’s only one party with such a set of policies and that’s the DA.

There’s only one party committed to building a united nation with a shared future for all.

There’s only one party that wants to make real home-owners of millions of South Africans.

There’s only one party fighting for true freedom for all our people.

And I assure you, my fellow South Africans, it is a fight the DA will ultimately win.

Thank you.

A new fight for freedom starts now

Note to editors: The following remarks were delivered by the Democratic Alliance Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the Freedom Movement Rally at the Caledonian Stadium in Tshwane today.
My fellow South Africans,
It gives me great pleasure to call you that: my fellow South Africans. Because that is what we are today.
Yes, we come from different political parties, trade unions, churches and civil society groups, but today we are here as South Africans.
We stand united by nothing other than our love for our country.
We’ve been here before. On this day in 1994 South Africans came together to vote for a new future.
It was an incredible day.
We showed the world that the spirit of the South African people cannot be crushed.
We showed that we can unite in the pursuit of a better life.
We showed that we are a people who love freedom, and we are prepared to fight for it.
Today we are here as a movement of South Africans, brought together by our common goal: Freedom for all who live here.
We represent political parties.
We represent labour movements.
We represent civil society groups – churches, non-governmental organisations, universities and business.
We have come together to save our democracy from a corrupt government.
We have come together because we believe that freedom must be fought for in every generation.
We have come together because we believe unity is strength.
Unity doesn’t mean you’re the same. It means you’re together.
Today we stand together. United in our diversity.
Under the banner of the Freedom Movement, we will channel the hope and the passion of millions of South Africans who believe in the future of this great nation.
I am privileged to share the stage today with leaders from across the spectrum.
Leaders like Mosioua Lekota from COPE and Bantu Holomisa from UDM.
Leaders like Giet Khosa, from the National Religious Leaders Council, Wayne Duvenhage from OUTA, Prince Mashele representing academia and civic leader, Zelda la Grange.
We are also honoured to have the support of a man who has dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of freedom for all South Africans, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
We may all be from different backgrounds, but today we stand here as allies.
All of us have seen what happens when you give one man too much power.
We have seen what happens when one party is in power for too long.
Together, we are building a new movement to realign politics as we know it.
And, together, we extend a hand of friendship to other parties and individuals who want to join us.
Fellow South Africans,
When I look to the future of this country, I see beyond the divisions of the past.
When I look to the future, I see past the narrow party politics of the present.
When I look to the future, I see people who aren’t defined by their political choices. People who no longer have to say “I am ANC” or “I am COSATU” or “I am DA”.
When I look to the future, I see a new political formation in power.
A new political formation of leaders from across the political spectrum.
A new political formation free of corruption and free of corrupting influences.
A new political formation that defends our Constitution.
A new political formation of, and for, the people.
A new political formation united in the pursuit of prosperity for all.
Because the old order is dying and a new struggle is born.
The old order gave us corruption, looting and the abuse of power.
It gave us an oppressive government that abuses state institutions to fight its fights and settle its scores.
It saw millions of people trapped in poverty and unemployment.
But we’re witnessing the dying kicks of the old order, and the rise of a new struggle.
A new fight against oppression begins today.
A new fight for opportunities begins today.
A new fight for freedom starts now.
Thank you.