Note to Editors: The following remarks were made by the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, while addressing the Batho Community, in Manguang, Bloemfontein. Maimane visited the community on his national Freedom, Fairness & Opportunity Tour.
My fellow Democrats and South Africans,
Thank you for welcoming me to your province, and into your community. I love the Free State. It is a wonderful part of South Africa, with warm, big-hearted people.
But I also know it can be so much more.
My Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity Tour has taken me across the country, where I have spoken to – and engaged with – many communities such as yours about the challenges you face, and how we can tackle them together.
I already know about many of these challenges you have to deal with here in the Free State, and particularly in communities such as here in Batho.
I heard that the Batho clinic has been closed since March 2014 and that the old and the sick must now walk many kilometres to collect their medicine.
I heard that some of you have been waiting since 2005 to receive the title deeds to your homes.
I heard that in some areas here, the only paved streets with storm water drains are the ones where the local councillors live.
Here you have people living in houses that are falling apart. You have sewage running down the streets where your children play. You have waste that piles up because no one comes to collect it. You have streets that have become dumping sites.
That’s not the South Africa we dream of.
Today I want to talk to you about Freedom.
No person is free if every day is a hard, long battle because they have no water, no lights, no proper healthcare and no protection from criminals.
For us in the DA, Freedom means far, far more than just a symbolic freedom. It has to be freedom you can use. It has to be freedom that gives you access to opportunities in life.
Here in your communities, I see people who battle every day against great hardship. People who are waiting for freedom they can use.
And this freedom won’t come until those elected to serve the people start doing so, and stop looking after only themselves.
I have heard a lot about your Premier, Ace Magashule. And everything I’ve heard describes him as an arrogant man who has long since lost touch with the people in his province.
I heard that Premier Magashule is more concerned with jetting off to Cuba with 72 other cadres – spending millions meant for you – than fixing your problems.
I heard that Premier Magashule rather spends his time building his own media empire – newspapers, radio stations, websites – than building your healthcare and education services.
And I also heard that Premier Magashule managed to find R140 million to build a single website, but he can’t find budget for basic services in many of the Free State’s communities.
Well, if he’s not going to act like your premier, then he shouldn’t be your premier.
And the same goes for every mayor and councillor across the Free State – if they’re not putting all their time and energy into looking after your communities, they must make way for people who will.
Together, we will build the South Africa we all want to live in around these values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity.
In the South Africa that will be governed by the DA, our economy will grow again, creating millions of jobs.
Our streets will be safe and clean, our schools will offer real education and there will be no place for lazy or corrupt government officials.
This is what we mean by freedom you can use.
If you feel that your local government has turned its back on you, you can use your vote next year to fire them. That is your right. In fact, in a democracy like ours, that is your job.
If we work together, we can bring real change to Batho, and to the rest of your great province.
Let’s bring freedom you can use to Mangaung and the Free State. That starts by voting for change next year.
Together, we can build a better future for all. So let’s make it happen.
Speech by Mmusi Maimane