The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Douglas, Northern Cape.
My fellow South Africans,
We’re only three weeks away from a crucial national and provincial election. What we decide at the polls on 8 May will have a profound effect on the lives of ordinary South Africans, and particularly people in poor communities.
This is our chance to look back at what our government has delivered, and where they have failed. And I don’t just mean over the past five-year term. I mean over the full 25 years that the ANC has been in office.
Twenty-five years is a long time in government. It should be enough time to make big inroads into correcting the wrongs of our past and delivering a better life for our people. But when you look at a community like this one here in the Breipaal area of Douglas, you realise that these past 25 years have been completely wasted. The people here have almost nothing to show for this time. And there are hundreds of other communities just like this across the length and breadth of our country.
This ANC government hasn’t just failed the people through its dead-end, job-killing policies, they have actually stolen people’s future through a quarter of a century of relentless corruption.
Some estimates put the amount stolen by this ANC government since 1994 at a trillion Rand. And this number continues to grow every day. Think of what that money could have done. In today’s terms, R1 trillion could have built more than 8 million houses. R1 trillion could have built more than 22,000 schools. R1 trillion could have paid for the salaries of 205,000 nurses or 222,000 police officers, every year for 25 years.
And they want you to vote for them again?
I have been on the road for many weeks now on my Kasi to Kasi tour, traveling right across South Africa. And what I have seen should be cause for great shame for the ANC government. I have seen poverty and despair in town after town. I have seen countless people who have given up hoping for any kind of improvement in their lives – people who have given up on their dreams.
I have seen people living in conditions that no human should ever have to experience – South Africans who want to do right by their families, but who have been robbed of their dignity by crushing poverty. And they live in these conditions because the ANC government has abandoned them.
One of the worst indignities our people continue to suffer is the system of bucket toilets, along with dangerous pit latrines at our schools. This is why the DA in the Western Cape made it one of their priorities to eradicate all bucket toilets in the province when they took over in 2009. It is also why the DA-led coalition in NMB, under Mayor Athol Trollip, managed to get rid of almost 10,000 bucket toilets in the city before the ANC/EFF/UDM coalition of corruption overthrew them there.
Despite all their promises every year – and particularly ahead of every election – bucket toilets are a common feature in ANC provinces and municipalities. The fact that they cannot and will not tackle this problem is proof that they simply do not care.
Here in this small community of Breipaal alone there are over 800 bucket toilets, and they seldom get emptied on time by the municipality. Not only is this an insult to the dignity of the people here, it is also a dangerous health hazard.
Twelve years ago this local government came and built 180 flush toilets in Breipaal. That was the first and last time they were seen here. And now the ANC is asking people here to vote for them again. Why should they? What have they got to show for the past 25 years of ANC government? Just more broken promises from a party that has long forgotten the plight of our people.
Last weekend I read that President Ramaphosa’s administration is going to spend almost three-quarters of a billion Rand on renovating and upgrading the homes of ministers and other government-owned buildings. This money includes a staggering R5.7 million just to replace the carpets in the wing of the Union Buildings used by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
They can spend R5.7 million on new office carpets, but they can’t find the money to build flushing toilets for your community.
I have also just learnt that last year the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, bought herself two luxury vehicles in the space of three days, so that she could have one in Cape Town and one in Pretoria. These R1.2m and R1.1m Audis were paid for by you and me, despite our President reassuring us that he will rein in spending.
All his reassurances about fighting corruption, cutting waste and cleaning up government have turned out to be lies. His ministers are still spending like there is no end to the money, and not one single ANC minister, MP, Premier or Mayor has been prosecuted and jailed for corruption. This is what you need to remember when you visit your voting station next month.
These elections are the one time, every five years, that you get to have a say in how your country is run. It is your one chance to hold your government accountable for the promises they made and broke. Any democracy is only as strong as the willingness of the people to play their part in demanding more from their government.
If you are unhappy with how you have been treated these past 25 years – if you feel let down and betrayed by those who have been promising “a better life for all” since 1994, then this is your one chance to do something about it.
And you will never have a better opportunity. Right now, the DA and the ANC are neck-and-neck here in the Northern Cape. This means you now have the best chance ever of bringing the ANC under 50% in the province, and replacing it with a DA-led government that would not just eradicate bucket toilets but create work for the people of the Northern Cape.
This is exactly the same position the Western Cape was in ten years ago. And because the people there came out in great numbers to vote for change, the DA was able to put together a coalition government and unseat the ANC. Ten years later, the Western Cape is unrecognisable from the province the ANC left behind. It is now South Africa’s best performing province on every single measure, from clean corruption-free governance and job creation to service delivery, education and healthcare.
This is what the Northern Cape deserves too – a government made up of committed and competent people who truly care about improving people’s lives. If that is the government you want, then it is a DA government you should vote for.
Together we can turn the Northern Cape around, and together we can build one prosperous South Africa for all.