Source: The Democratic Alliance
Title: DA: Mazibuko: Address by the Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader, at the Limpopo Provincial Congress, Limpopo
Colleagues, friends, and fellow democrats: It is a wonderful sight to look across the Democratic Alliance (DA) in freedom’s colours. A blue revolution is upon us.
Limpopo is a province deserving of our empathy, and crying out for leadership.
There are failed and ‘collapsed’ states throughout the world. Limpopo is, by any reasonable definition, a collapsed province. There can be no other way to describe its status when the central government assumes many of the province’s powers and functions.
Limpopo’s story is one of failed leadership. Five years ago, this was the place where a former President was removed, and the ANC’s deep divisions were publically displayed for all to see. That was ‘Polokwane One’.
This is the place where the current President came to power. And five years on, all we seem to hear about is whether a President who has failed to create jobs will keep his.
Limpopo’s people have suffered the most from this failure. The unemployment rate stands at over 32 percent, nearly a staggering 7 percent higher than the national average.
These are the people who have been left behind by a corrupt government which lacks leadership.
So today we must write a new chapter in the politics of this province, where Polokwane is associated with unity, not division.
Let this be the place where the Democratic Alliance (DA) “forced the spring”, and turned Limpopo’s politics upside down.
The DA must take up the work of delivery, diversity, reconciliation and redress in Limpopo. We will grow this provinces economy and we will create jobs. If not us, then who will?
Just take education as one indicator. The fact is that the ANC’s neglect of the education of this province is as shameful as the designs of the apartheid government it replaced.
It has denied so many young South Africans the opportunity to live a better life. Instead of creating hope for young South Africans, it is killing it.
Limpopo is a province where a company controlled by ANC-connected businessmen and former top government officials, stands accused of obtaining a textbook tender worth over R320 million, and then failing to deliver those text books 6 months into the school year.
The DA has taken this matter to court in order to compel the province to provide the young people of Limpopo with the means to access their constitutional right to an education.
Where the DA governs, education is priority, and the Western Cape government is presiding over the best education outcomes in South Africa.
Limpopo is a province where the health department is in meltdown: a department of such mindboggling incompetence that it cannot provide enough doctors and nurses, or basic infrastructure and equipment to service its citizens.
In a region blighted by preventable diseases and HIV-Aids, bad strategic planning has led to tons of lifesaving medicines going to waste.
Where the DA governs, we have reached a point where nurses make up 50% of the total employees of the Western Cape Health Department. In fact, under Helen Zille’s leadership, the province has this year reached the required number of nurses to staff public healthcare facilities properly.
The message is clear and simple.
When the capacity of the state to deliver essential services is broken, no one can get a foothold on the ladder of opportunity to find a job, and begin to live a life they value.
Limpopo’s politics is broken. People’s patience in this province has been stretched to breaking point.
I also hear a quieter and deeper anger that wears down the soul and destroys confidence.
This anger speaks of a governing-party in this province so power drunk, its leaders assume that the people will simply vote them back into office election after election. Their assumption is wrong for two reasons:
Firstly, the citizens of Limpopo can distinguish between what the ANC did in the struggle, and today’s reality of bad ANC governance.
Secondly, the political sands are shifting fast. The DA is growing here, as it is across every community in South Africa.
We must push forward the boundaries of our Party, and take the message to every community in this province that the DA is a home for all South Africans.
We must also remember this: ‘A house divided cannot stand’. Our party is renowned for its democratic character and leadership. In this way, we are the exact opposite of the ANC.
Leadership in the DA is highly competitive because we believe that the opportunity to lead is the noblest form of public service. Our internal democratic process is as transparent as it is merit driven.
This means that when we have elected our leaders, we unite behind them and give them the support they need. Sometimes this is tough, and requires discipline. But let us never forget why we do what we do:
We want to win here and throughout South Africa because we know how difficult government is. We want to win because the people of Limpopo deserve much better.
When we look across our beautiful country, we long for a better future where all South Africa’s people. We see that every child who does not get a fair start, or every young man who has never worked, or every pensioner living in fear, as a distinct human story.
For us, South Africans are not ANC people or DA people. They are individuals, who belong to families and communities, and to us all.
Every person has the right to live in dignity, free from fear and danger. Helen Suzman understood that. Every person she encountered represented ‘a world entire’.
This is why we have to be prepared to intervene early on, individual by individual, family by family to tackle social exclusion. This is why a DA voice in every municipality speaking up for every community and individual is important. Sometimes, just one voice, as Helen showed us, makes a material difference.
So be of courage: you are making a difference in your neighbourhood and community!
In the short-term, it might be politically tempting to measure ourselves by the shortcomings of our political opponents. But our opponents’ shortcomings must never be the DA’s benchmark. We judge ourselves by our success in creating real opportunities and jobs for all.|
Some politicians are good at firing statistics, pointing fingers here and there. But we aspire to be more; to be the change-makers. We aspire to govern South Africa as the best and most transparent government our country has ever seen.
The cause of people’s discontent is simple: for many millions of our citizens, life has not materially changed since apartheid. Most of the defining features of apartheid still persist. Most people in rural South Africa do not own their home, never mind the land on which it is built.
Agricultural activity remains subsistence-based. In some parts of the country, the apartheid patterns of migrant labour remain unchanged.
Sometimes in Parliament, I have to spell out hard truths, and I will do so again today.
Here in Limpopo you have an education department that has been placed under administration by the national government.
On top of that, you have a provincial education department that refuses to comment on the crisis it has caused because it has been taken over.
And you have a national department that will not comment about a dodgy tender for textbooks because “it is important to understand the context”.
I think that we understand the “context” of ANC misrule and incompetence all too well.
And we are redefining this context because people want to live a better life, not just receive more empty ANC promises and corrupt ANC rule.
Just as President Zuma should ask himself whether he is up to the task of governing and creating jobs, so should Premier Cassel Mathale.
This province under Premier Mathale is rudderless and drifting. His failure of leadership is robbing the province of its state resources, and its potential to create opportunities and jobs.
Two weeks ago, I asked President Zuma if Premier Mathale should do the right thing and resign.
The President, as usual, evaded the question, and said that the country should wait until the investigation is complete.
You might have thought that presiding over a shortfall of R2 billion is a good enough reason for Mr. Mathale to resign before being asked. But that never happens in this government.
I guess the President is in a bind because he cannot ask Premier Mathlale to do what he himself fails to do.
Things have to change. We cannot carry on like this.
The power to change Limpopo and South Africa is in your hands.
Every South African has the power to change their failed governments, through the power of their vote.
This is because freedom is not something that is only exercised every five years at the ballot box. Nor does the vote itself make a person free.
We have learned that it is how we exercise our vote that will determine if it brings to power leaders who will deliver on the pledges set out in the Bill of Rights.
They include freedom from the indignity of joblessness; freedom from preventable disease and ill-health; freedom from fear and danger; freedom from homelessness; freedom from ignorance and despair.
Freedom by these lights is not a once-off event. It is something tangible which each South African should be able to experience. For the DA, freedom is measured not by words, but by real opportunities.
It says no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you deserve a fair chance to live a life you value.
South Africans are realising that the ideal of a better life for all might be promised by the ANC, but it is realised by the Democratic Alliance, especially where we govern.
More and more people are casting aside old allegiances and using their political freedom to gain access to the freedoms contained in the world’s best constitution. We must be ready to welcome them to the DA with open arms, and the promise of freedom they can use.
Our message to the people of Limpopo is: give us the chance to serve you, and fix your broken government, like we are doing in the Western Cape.
Considering the gloom and daily hardships South Africans face, it is easy to forget an important truth.
The capacity of the state is weak, yet this winning nation is strong.
The true face of South Africa is found in the large majority of decent citizens who do their bit every day.
The DA has a promise to keep to the people of this province who have suffered ANC misrule for too long.
The promise is to complete the work of freedom. The DA is a party for all South Africans. And as the party of justice for all, we have great strides to make before our work is done. The only way to redress the wrongs of the past - and the present - is to give the DA a chance to serve.
The DA makes freedom manifest by what we do in government; by the opportunities we create.
Today, I have brought a solemn message to this Congress. Maybe it is different from conventional congress speeches. But now is the time to ‘speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly’.