Fellow Democrats, people of South Africa and more specifically people of our beautiful Province of Gauteng, I greet you all.
I remember the time when I joined the Democratic Alliance many years ago, a time when I decided that I wanted to contribute towards a positive trajectory for our beautiful country.
A time when I wanted to knock on every door, go to every taxi rank, shopping mall, township or suburb to say, ours is a land pregnant with possibilities, but those possibilities were not yet explored because we had leadership in this country that focused on self-enrichment and dividing the citizens on race for narrow political interests.
Today, listening to Mama Letta Mbulu’s song “Not yet Uhuru”, I’m reminded of the time I joined the party. The song aptly reminds us that freedom is not yet attained in our country. Yes, we have the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of association. But what does this mean when we:
Still have millions of our people living in conditions of squalor;
When half of our youth cannot find meaningful employment;
When state funds are used more to enrich the politically connected instead of uplifting the conditions of millions of its people;
Where farm and rural murders are the order of the day;
Gender-based violence that subjects women and children to unnecessary and humiliating abuse is rife, and
where there are still those that registered for state subsidized houses right at the dawn of democracy, are still waiting.
Where the state take funds from the police, from education and health to fund a never filling blackhole of an airline. When millions are paid for the removal of asbestos roofing, but there is little to show for it.
When billions are siphoned through Covid corruption intended to save the lives of our ill.
Indeed, it’s not yet Uhuru
True freedom is what all the people of this country and indeed this province yearn for.
They yearn for freedom to make their own choices about the life they want to live, they yearn for freedom that empowers them to improve their own lives.
They yearn for opportunities that are created and given in a fair manner, instead of through cronyism and political membership. The people yearn for fairness.
Democrats, we have to fight for this freedom, we have to be the champions of this freedom. The task ahead of us is huge.
Our country and our province needs us now, more than ever, to restore hope where there’s desperation and despair.
Our people are calling for us to stand up and fight for them. The beautiful, warm- hearted, hardworking, honest people of this province are calling for a united, focused and determined Democratic Alliance.
That is why I did not seek any endorsements during my campaign, as I feared it may promote divisions in our ranks. I want to be a leader for all our members, not for some or for a faction.
It is important that we unite as a party because that is what our members and voters want to see. Nobody wants to support a divided house. I hope this sets a trend for future internal elections.
Real change for our people will only happen when we as the Democratic Alliance stand firm and focused on our values, principles and policies. Real change will happen when we are part of people’s daily lives and experiences.
We have to connect with every resident of this province who shares our values, but are not yet voting for us.
To convince them that the DA is a home for them, we mustn’t just tell them, but we must show them. We must create opportunities for new leaders to emerge. We must be the true representation of the nation we want to lead.
We have to champion the building of a nonracial, non-sexist Gauteng, where there will be no barriers created by religion, culture, geography or economic status. We must champion the message of hope for our people.
While others push for illegal land invasions, we must champion land reform programmes.
While others want to push us into racial blocks, we must champion a nonracial South Africa.
While others enrich themselves at the expense of the people, we must expose wrongdoing in all its manifestations.
We must be champions of service delivery in all municipalities in Gauteng.
We will continue to do excellent work in Midvaal, reverse all the damage created by Maile and his administration in Tshwane, keep a close eye on Johannesburg, its ailing coalition and its lack of delivery, and ensure that people of Ekurhuleni, Emfuleni, Lesedi, Mogale, Merafong, Rand-West, West-Rand and Sedibeng have champions who will hold these executives to account.
Democrats, the 2021 Local Government Elections are just around the corner. Our campaign for these elections will require all of us to be on the ground, all of the time.
We will need to retrain and empower our activists to fight these elections. We will have to select the best to represent the DA as public representatives and ensure that they are equipped to be true champions of the people of Gauteng.
Let me take this opportunity to thank and pass my gratitude to James Lorimer for the spirit is which we contested for leader. Once again, we have proven that leaders are elected through democratic processes, and that we do not have anointed leaders.
We allow for debates, contestation of ideas and only choose leaders based on their ideas, content of their character and ability to lead us into a new and exciting future. I hope that this trend continues and becomes a principle we hold dear.
I would also like to thank all members of the Democratic Alliance, those who voted for me and those who didn’t. I thank you for exercising your democratic right in a manner that isn’t leaving the party fractured and factional.
Now that the internal elections are over, let us work as one and focus on the bouncing ball that is the upcoming Local Government Elections.
I commit myself to working with all structures of the party as we venture into this new and exciting chapter for the DA in Gauteng.
I commit to allowing true democracy, open communication, a culture of mutual respect, support and teamwork.
Like Mama Mbulu says, it’s not yet Uhuru, the work ahead of us is a lot and will take all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel. Together, we can and must do it, not for ourselves, but for those who come after us.
I thank you