Fellow South Africans
Mr President, I am flattered that you would like to include me in your band, as you said in your SONA last Thursday.
But I am not sure it’s going to work out. I am worried that you only know how to sing to the ANC’s tune. I personally prefer to sing something more in tune with South Africa.
I have spent a lot of time on the road recently traveling from kasi to kasi, discussing the many challenges our people face.
On one such a stop in Diepkloof, Soweto, my visit coincided with ANC campaigners in the area. And as I was talking to a group of young people selling meat, one of them pointed over to the ANC campaigners and said to me:
“Sikathele a bo Agrizzi” – we are tired of Agrizzis.
He was angry and frustrated. He knew instinctively that he – like millions of others – had been robbed by the corruption of this government.
All he wanted was a government that could do the basics well. A government that can keep the lights on, keep the taps running, help small businesses like his succeed and help put young people into jobs.
From kasi to kasi – from Mdantsane to uMlazi – the cry is the same. People want change and they want it now. They are tired of their communities becoming dormitories of unemployed labour. And they are tired of broken promises.
They want action, not talk-shops and not summits. And they wanted this a long time ago.
But instead, Honourable President, you asked them on Thursday to wait some more.
“Watch this space”. That’s what you told us several times during your SONA address.
But that’s all you’ve been doing for the past decade, and it’s all you’ve been doing for your entire first year in office. Watching and waiting.
You have been watching this space as youth unemployment grew to include more than half our young people.
You have been watching this space as Eskom fell apart, threatening to plunge our country into a crisis we may never recover from.
You have been watching this space as the Gupta leaks and the Zondo Commission showed how our country was sold out for a braai pack, some beers and a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Throughout all of this, South Africans have been desperately hoping for something to happen. But nothing did and, judging by your track record, nothing will.
But while you have watching and waiting, the DA has been doing.
We have not stopped fighting on behalf of South Africans in this Parliament and in court to expose the corruption and mismanagement of your government.
Yet you were content to just watch and wait as your party robbed us blind.
Under your ANC, SONA stands for “State of No Action”.
We are a State of big promises. We’re a State of Commissions, Task Teams and Road Shows for every possible problem. But when it comes to actually doing things, we are a State of No Action.
Every single SONA – including both of yours to date – has been nothing but a long list of things that sound good and sound busy, with very little meaningful action. And I don’t think this is what you want.
I’m sure you would love to preside over a government that gets things done – a government that improves the lives of our people.
But you don’t. You preside over an ANC government that can’t and won’t act. Across towns, cities and provinces, our State is being looted by your party. That’s the ANC citizens would be voting for.
Mr President, it is clear they are in charge, and not you.
That’s why you love spending time overseas. When there’s no ANC around – when you’re speaking in Davos or being interviewed by the foreign press – you can say whatever you like.
But as soon as you’re back home, it is the ANC of the Magashules and the Mabuzas and the Mahumapelos – and yes, even the ANC of the Zumas – that calls the shots.
And we all know that this ANC disagrees with you on almost all key policy issues – the nationalisation of land, the nationalisation of mines and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.
We all know you weren’t joking when you said, about Ace Magashule: “This is my boss, the real boss. Without him I am nothing.”
We judge a man by the company he keeps, Mr President. These are your friends.
Like many South Africans, I want to believe your SONA address. But I know that you are not in charge. And because of this, you can only offer revision, while our country desperately needs a new vision for change.
Honourable President, we all know any economy needs a dependable supply of electricity to grow.
And so I’m sure you’d love to unbundle Eskom – as you should have done 10 years ago – but your ANC-aligned unions won’t allow this.
I’m sure you’d love to reform our failing education, but your SADTU allies won’t let you.
The ANC will let people like Angelo Agrizzi and his Bosasa colleagues take the fall, but they won’t allow people like Dudu Myeni and the Honourable Nomvula Mokonyane to be arrested.
And if you cannot even remove the corrupt from your own cabinet, or from these Bosasa benches, then how can we believe anything you say about cleaning up government?
Failure to act makes you just another driver of the same broken bus – as is the case in Zimbabwe.
When you speak of renewal, you don’t mean the renewal of South Africa. You mean the renewal of your party.
When you speak of unity, you’re talking about the ANC. And the unity of the ANC comes at the expense of South Africa.
“Watch this space”, you tell us. But the time for watching has come and gone. What we need now is action.
You speak of nine wasted years, to absolve yourself of the integral role you played as second-in-command.
But let’s be honest, while these years might have been wasted for South Africa, they most certainly were not wasted for the ANC.
These were the golden years for the black, green and gold.
Everyone made money.
Everyone got a security upgrade.
Everyone got a new car.
Everyone got deals for their family members – tenders, shares and positions on boards.
Even you and your own son benefitted from Bosasa.
Throughout all of this you were right there, Honourable President.
You didn’t arrive on the scene a year ago. Eight times you had the opportunity to save our country from Jacob Zuma, and eight times you voted to protect Jacob Zuma.
Your record will always reflect: 100% percent behind Zuma – a man you described as “a very strong president.”
You were there, Mr President.
You were there as our national debt skyrocketed to almost R3 trillion.
You were there as we dipped in and out of economic recession while our peers – both here in Africa and throughout the developing world – raced on ahead without us.
You were there as our unemployment rate just grew and grew and grew.
Today almost 10 million South Africans cannot find work. Four out of every ten households do not have a single job in the home.
This morning’s headlines say that you were “shocked” by stage 4 load-shedding. How can you be shocked, Mr President? You were there all along.
Watch this space, you tell us. Well, let me tell you about the spaces you should have been watching instead.
On Thursday – on the day of SONA – millions of South Africans were experiencing a very different nation to the one in your speech.
On the day of SONA, 57 people would have been murdered in our country.
On the day of SONA, 110 people – mainly vulnerable women – would have gone to a police station to say they had been raped. And those were just the reported cases. We all know the real number is much, much higher.
On the day of SONA, 53 children under the age of five would have died. Three-quarters of these children wouldn’t have had their first birthday yet. Most of them would have died from preventable causes, and malnutrition would have played a major part in these deaths.
This is 2019. We should not be speaking of this.
On the day of SONA, over 30 million South Africans who live below the poverty line would have struggled to afford the very basics to get by. Many of them would have gone to bed hungry that night.
On the day of SONA, 9.8 million people did not get up and get ready to go to work because they have no work to go to.
That’s the other part of our nation. These are the outsiders. These are the forgotten ones.
This is the real State of Our Nation.
Honourable President, It doesn’t have to be this way.
We, in the DA, have a dream of building one South Africa for all. And we have a plan to achieve that dream. Where we govern, we have already started building this South Africa.
While you talk, we do.
There is a good reason why the Western Cape has an expanded unemployment rate that’s a full 11 percentage points below the next best province, Gauteng.
There’s a good reason why half the jobs created in South Africa in the past year came from the Western Cape.
It’s because we understand what it takes to attract investment and create jobs. And this has become our obsessive focus where we govern.
We’ve identified agriculture and tourism as key drivers of job creation in the province, and we’ve focused our efforts on getting the most out of these sectors.
Over the past five years, almost 27,000 jobs were added in tourism alone. And over the past three years, three quarters of a million more tourists visited Cape Town.
The point I’m making here is that investment, growth and jobs don’t just happen. You have to make it happen. You can’t just talk. You must do.
Honourable President, while you talk of cleaning up government and fighting corruption, we do.
In the past year alone, Mayor Mashaba’s administration in Johannesburg has had 2,445 cases of fraud, corruption, theft and maladministration investigated. This has led to 362 arrests, 15 suspensions and 27 dismissals.
And it’s important to note the DA has not just targeted officials. We’ve gone after the crooked politicians too.
The cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay have all opened up the tender process to the public. This means the days of handing tenders and contracts to connected friends and family behind closed doors are a thing of the past in the country’s biggest cities.
Honourable President, while you talk of tinkering with Eskom to keep the lights on, we do.
Where the DA governs we are way ahead of the rest of the country in terms of renewable energy readiness.
85% of municipalities in the Western Cape already have legislation in place to allow for independent solar energy generation, and most of them are geared to sell clean energy back into the grid.
These are the kinds of solutions we should be looking at to make our country more energy secure – to make our country Eskom-proof.
It requires more than just replacing SOE boards, Mr President.
We must become adaptable and flexible in our energy mix. Cities should be empowered to diversify their energy as much as possible by buying directly from IPPs. And that’s why we have taken your government to court on this.
We aren’t interested in preserving beleaguered SOEs like Eskom. We’re only interested in delivering electricity to citizens.
We need real SOE reform. Sell the ones that are not working like SAA, so our people can use these resources.
Honourable President, while you talk of ways to better manage public funds, we do.
Thanks to the hard work of coalition governments, the R2 billion deficit that Mayor Msimanga’s administration inherited in the City of Tshwane was turned into a surplus by the end of their first financial year in office.
In Johannesburg, Mayor Mashaba’s administration managed to allocate an additional R700 million towards capital expenditure in the recent Adjustment Budget.
This money will now be spent on electrification of informal settlements, upgrading of council flats and the replacement of sewer lines, to name just a few.
Honourable President, while you talk of land reform and land restitution, we do.
And we do so without tampering with the Constitution and sacrificing private property rights.
In the past four years the Western Cape government supported 357 land reform projects. These projects have a success rate of more than 60%.
Without changing the Constitution, a DA government will ensure that many more South Africans own land with full title.
We believe in secure land rights for all South Africans – not the Apartheid division between strong rights in urban areas and weak, mainly communal rights in rural areas.
We don’t want democracy for some, but autocracy for others.
We know that property ownership is what delivers freedom. Not living at the mercy of the State on land owned by them, or by traditional leaders, as some parties in this House propose.
Yesterday, Sipho Hadebe, Moses Sithole and Pablo Makhetha received title for the very first time in Johannesburg.
They join more than 6,000 other recipients of title deeds under the Mashaba administration, along with the 100,000 families who have received title deeds in the Western Cape over the past decade.
This means these people can leverage their property to access capital. It means they can pass it on to their children and create inter-generational wealth.
How many more lives can we change across the country by simply giving South Africans ownership and title to the land they live on?
That’s what freedom looks like.
Honourable President, our country needs action. But then it has to be the right action.
Your party wants everything to revolve around the State. I want everything to revolve around the people.
You want to maintain the walls of rigid labour laws that protect those already on the inside of the economy, and keep the rest locked outside.
I want to break down these walls and create access to work opportunities for almost 10 million more South Africans.
If we want special economic zones to work, let’s do it properly. Let’s offer the incentives in cities so that we can be more aggressive when it comes to creating jobs.
Mr President, you look out for yourselves by spending millions on protecting politicians. I want more money for SAPS so they can better protect ordinary citizens.
You want to shield those within the ANC’s senior leadership from the law. I want every man and woman to stand equal before the law.
You side with leaders like Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nicolas Maduro. I stand with the people of Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
It’s been 29 years, almost to the day, since Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster prison and told us of the South Africa he wanted to build on a foundation of human rights.
But here’s your ANC, protecting tyrants like Omar al-Bashir.
That is why South Africa needs change, Honourable President. Not because we hate the ANC, but because we love our country.
And the ANC is simply incapable of doing what needs to be done.
As a famous Greek philosopher once said: “Character is destiny,” meaning you don’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do, but on what you’ve done.
I believe this to be true. I believe when I look at what you have done, it tells me what you are going to do.
And when I look at the past five years – both yours and the ANC’s – I have no reason to believe that you will change now.
We have seen the character of your party, and it will not lead us to the destiny we want.
This is why our May election will be a referendum on the ANC. Do we want another five years of unemployment, load-shedding and hopelessness, or do we want to take a different road?
It will be our chance, as South Africans, black, white, Indian and coloured, to stand together and usher in the change our country so desperately needs.
That change can only come from the DA.
I am the man in the arena, Mr President, and I have an agenda for reform that will unlock South Africa’s full potential.
The DA has a plan that will restore the dignity of all South Africans.
Our plan is to put a job in every home.
Our plan will champion entrepreneurs and micro enterprises as the heroes in the fight against unemployment.
Our plan will place our cities at the forefront of economic growth.
Our plan will prioritise the education of our children – not by giving them tablets, but by training their teachers.
Our plan will ensure that we have a small, efficient government, where no one implicated in wrongdoing will serve in any legislature, parliament or cabinet.
We’ll also do a skills audit of all civil servants. Anyone who got a job as a cadre must go.
I’m talking about real change.
I know this is possible for us. And I also know that only the DA can bring this change.
You see, Mr President, those young people I met in Diepkloof – I made them a promise. I said that if they played their part on election day, I would make sure they would not have to put up with a bo Agrizzi much longer.
That’s a promise I intend to keep.
Honourable President, the most important moment in your speech on Thursday was the announcement of the election date of 8 May.
That’s what really matters to the people of South Africa – the power of the vote to fire a government that has stolen from them, and to hire one that will bring change.
Change you can believe in.
Change that has already begun.
Change that builds one South Africa for all.
President Ramaphosa, 8 May. “Watch this space”