Fellow South Africans
We are now just eight weeks away from the most important election in the history of our democracy. Never has there been more at stake. And never before has every single vote mattered as much.
We simply cannot continue on the path we’re on, because it will only lead us to more misery and despair. Our government has no plan to choose a different road for us. All they can do is swap out leaders and hope that this will distract enough people from the fact that we are fast approaching the edge of a cliff.
We don’t need a new driver of the same doomed bus. We need to get onto a brand new bus that will take us where we need to go, and we need to do so quickly.
South Africa needs change, and the only way to bring about this change is through the ballot. If South Africans want a better tomorrow, then they are going to have to choose that tomorrow themselves. No one else can do this for them.
This is why the DA is launching what we call Change Chooseday – a series of engagements with voters across the country every Tuesday from now until the elections in May, where we get to speak about the things people would most like to change in our country.
We want South Africans to engage deeply with the issues and challenges they face. We want people to have done their homework well before we go to the polls, so that every decision at the voting station can be an informed decision.
While these issues and challenges might differ from person to person, and from community to community, there is one issue that touches every single corner of this country. It is responsible for more despair and hopelessness than any other, and this is the issue of unemployment.
Having to survive without an income, beyond the tiny grants and remittances that form the livelihood of so many of our people, is incredibly hard. And every single month it gets harder as the fuel price rises and transport costs go up, as VAT goes up and food becomes more expensive, as electricity rates are hiked up again and again and again.
Keeping up with these never-ending increases is hard enough when you have a job. But when you don’t – as is the case for almost 10 million of our people – then it becomes a struggle that most of us can barely imagine.
Consider that four out of every ten households in South Africa do not have a single job. Not a working parent, not a working grandparent and not a working son or daughter. That is surely the biggest challenge we face today, and the biggest threat to the freedom of millions of people.
The people living in these homes have no real choice about anything in life, because they can barely survive. Our country’s hard-won freedom means little to them, because they remain trapped in extreme poverty with no clear way out.
And the worst is they don’t have a government that is prepared to fight for them.
Their government is only interested in protecting those already on the inside of our economy. Their government is so intertwined and dependent on the unions that it will only ever fight for those who already have the protection of the unions.
That’s why they will never touch the labour legislation that keeps millions locked outside, because it would require them to take on the unions.
That’s why they will never reform Eskom, because the unions are simply too powerful.
That’s why Parliament only ever debates the interests of the economic insiders. Outsiders in this country are left with no platform to advance their cause.
We have parties in this country – including the governing ANC – who claim to speak on behalf of the poor. But given the opportunity, their first instinct is to place more power in the hands of the corrupt elite, whether this is through the embattled SOE’s, through land expropriation or through nationalising entities like the Reserve Bank.
And this is the reason for the terrible state of our nation. We are being dragged down, not only by an incapable state, but also a captured state. Decisions in government are not made in the interest of the people, but rather in the interest of factions. And any asset that is nationalised becomes a prize in this factional battle.
You will find that “shareholders” in these assets will all be from the dominant faction. And as soon as there is a swing in the balance of this power, the new faction will want theirs to be the new shareholders. It’s a toxic cycle that is dragging our country backwards.
Fellow South Africans,
Luckily the DA is not affected by this. Not only do we have a track record that says we don’t tolerate corruption and the politics of patronage, we are also not beholden to any union. And this means a DA government would be free to implement the changes to labour legislation that will allow our economy to thrive.
Our only mission is to tear down the walls that keep millions of South Africans excluded from the economy. For us, the only criteria for a piece of legislation is whether it will help to create work. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t be interested in it.
If I could choose to change one thing on this Change Chooseday, it would be to put a job in every home. I’m not saying we should be content with just one job per household – we must ultimately work to ensure that every South African who can and wants to work, has access to opportunities. But let’s start with at least one job in every home.
To do this, we will need to place small businesses at the front and centre of our plan, because this is where the biggest gains will be made.
We will also need to focus our efforts on the sectors of our economy that have the best potential to create jobs – sectors like tourism, manufacturing and agriculture.
Let us maximise the enormous promise of tourism in South Africa by making it attractive and simple to travel here. We can start by making it possible to obtain our visas electronically. Let us offer the tax incentives to boost our manufacturing sector, and let us provide the policy certainty to let our agriculture sector thrive.
I also want to see young people get a foot in the door when it comes to work experience, and we can do so through a year of voluntary national civilian service in fields like education, policing and healthcare. This will expose young people to the world of work and let them know the dignity that comes with getting a job.
But at the same time we also need to reform our education so that our young people are properly equipped to step into the future and reap the benefits of a growing economy.
That’s how we will put a job in every home. And the difference this will make to the lives of those who currently live at the mercy of the state and some of their family members will be indescribable. That one single income will be the difference between despair and dignity for that household. That one single income will offer the freedom that only choice can bring.
This is why we are launching the second message of our election campaign here in Tembisa today – a message that says “A Job in Every Home.” Because that is precisely what we intend to deliver in government – whether this is in national government or as the party that leads a new coalition government here in Gauteng.
A vote for the DA on 8 May is a vote for the dignity and independence that comes with having work.
A vote for the DA on 8 May is a vote against corruption and a vote to lock up corrupt politicians.
A vote for the DA on 8 May is a vote for a government that fights for all, and not just those already on the inside.
A vote for the DA on 8 May is a vote to build One South Africa for all its people.