While I am addressing delegates who have attended our historic virtual Democratic Alliance Free State Provincial Congress, I am also speaking through you to my fellow Free Staters.
Firstly it is important to acknowledge the sterling work done by my predecessor, our former leader Patricia Kopane, supported by our former chairperson Annelie Lotriet. You have set a high standard that the newly elected leadership in the Free State will have to adhere to.
At the same time I would like to congratulate our newly elected officers bearers’.
I would also like to thank our professional staff led by Sidney Leech for making this congress, like all else that we request them to do, a great success. A special thanks to my special friends and colleagues, Refiloe Nt’sekhe and Greg Krumbock, who were our very experienced presiding officers today.
The DA in the Free State have always cherished our families, however defined, as the core basis for the loving, nurturing and caring values that we want to instil in the Free State. I would not have been able to serve the people of the Free State and travel to our communities to listen and learn from them for the past twenty years as a public representative without the support of Astrid and Tristan. You are, and always will be, my anchor and my safe space, and you have sacrificed much of what many others take for granted because you believe in my cause as much as I do.
Every delegate attending our congress represents a branch, and it is these structures, alongside our various caucuses, that are our DA family in the Free State. Thank you for making this historic congress possible and thank you for your support today.
I would also like to thank the various candidates for leadership positions for showing our people that the DA a democracy in action.
My fellow Free Staters, while the DA in the Free State celebrate a successful virtual congress, we are acutely aware that there are many residents in many towns across the province without basic services such as electricity and water.
We are aware that large numbers of our people, many of whom are our youth, are without jobs and seemingly without hope of finding meaningful employment in the near future.
We are aware that our people live in fear of gangs of criminals who terrorise our streets, settlements and farms.
We are aware that our provincial government and municipalities remain in the grip of cadre deployment induced criminal syndicates who continue to plunder our scarce financial resources, while our people suffer on the ground.
I have witnessed the suffering of our people in the Free State first hand as I travel the length and breadth of the province as part of our ongoing “see for yourself” principle of oversight in the province.
Every failed project, every pothole, every destitute person and every service-less community should induce in us all, as it has induced in me, a passionate and relentless activism to correct these wrongs and fight the causes of this injustice.
That is why we are taking the issue of the Vrede Dairy Project beneficiaries’ exclusion from this project for eight years to court. They deserve better, and the DA will ensure that they get the justice that they deserve.
That is why we lodged criminal charges against Ace Magashule and many of his cronies for plundering our provincial coffers through corrupt deals and tenders. The DA’s perseverance is now bearing fruit as the political architects of corruption are now being held accountable for this.
That is why the DA in the Free State are in the process of taking legal action against Ace Magashule and Julius Malema at the Equality Court regarding what we regard as hate speech.
That is why we have fought more passionately than any other political party in the Free State against the scourge of crime, including brutal and violent farm attacks. We have taken this fight to the Free State Legislature with a Private Members Bill, the Community Policing Bill that has multi-party support.
That is why our DA councillors and activists are in a daily struggle to squeeze basic services, under seemingly overwhelming odds, from failing and failed municipal administrations. This is one of the most unenviable tasks for politicians to tackle and we salute every one of you for continuing to walk the talk.
The DA remains the only viable, non-racial alternative in the Free State and the country and we are resolute in our vision to wrench power from the ANC and bring sound financial management and administration, basic services, an enabling environment for job creating economic growth and, most importantly, re-instate a sense of hope in our people of the province.
I have stated previously that the DA in the Free State is not a cruise ship and if you are a passenger you must disembark. We are a battleship that left the safety of the harbour a long time ago and are now in a struggle of majestic proportions to free our people from poverty, inequality and unemployment.
At the same time the ANC is marching and protesting against itself in the Free State. There is no good or bad ANC in the province, there are only those who currently enjoy the fruits of the entrenched corrupt patronage network, and those who were silent while this network was being built and now want to control it again.
We will always acknowledge our past that has left many scars in our society, but we will continue to fight for that which we can in the present while keeping our sights firmly on our goals and objectives for the Free State in the future.
As we enter local government election season we can promise the people of the Free State that the DA in this province can deliver as we have done in the Western Cape Province and many municipalities across the country.
It is not co-incidence that residents from ANC-run municipalities in Gauteng are going to the DA-run Midvaal municipality under our competent mayor Bongani Boloyi to get water.
As the most diverse party in the province and country, the DA will field our diverse and fit for purpose candidates in every ward in every municipality across the Free State in the 2021 local government elections and continue to contest certain strategic by-elections in a calculated manner.
Voters in the Free State have to accept that they can no longer claim to be victims of past or present administrations, but victims of their current electoral choices.
On Election Day it is our voting population of the Free State who have to take responsibility for their own futures and those of their children by choosing the DA difference.
The DA has a record of fighting for justice and improved services for all our people in the Free State, we now need the support of all our people to allow us to show you what can be achieved through transparent, accountable and dedicated DA-run councils and provincial government.
The future of the Free State is blue, and that clear blue water is you!