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.