The following speech was delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the DA Manifesto Launch at the Rand Stadium, Johannesburg.
Members of Parliament
Members of the Provincial Legislatures
DA staff members and activists
Fellow South Africans
We stood here in this stadium in 2016 and we said: Change is coming!
We said we’d be in government in Johannesburg. They said we couldn’t do it.
We said we’d be in government in Tshwane. They said we couldn’t do it.
But here we are today, and Johannesburg is blue.
Today Tshwane is blue.
Those same people are once again telling us what the DA can and can’t do. And again we will prove them wrong.
Change is coming!
We did it before, and we’ll do it again.
My fellow South Africans
What a wonderful sight this is – all you from Team One South Africa, out here today because you care about this amazing country of ours.
South Africa, our beautiful land!
We are here because we want to be part of the solution.
We are here because we believe that our country is worth fighting for.
You will not find a more beautiful country than South Africa anywhere in the world.
Or a more diverse people.
Or a more optimistic, strong and resilient people.
Our people shine on despite everything.
So let us celebrate those who lift us up because South Africa is a nation of heroes.
Sporting giants like Caster Semenya – Caster we are with you!
Heroes like Wayde, Chad and Luvo – champions who have flown the South African flag on sport’s biggest stage.
Giants of business and commerce – people like Richard Maponya and Adrian Gore – these are South Africans who have conquered the world.
South Africans have flown to space and have launched their own rockets.
South Africans have developed their own rocket fuel – a discovery that took young Siyabulela Xuza from the townships of Mthatha to the university halls of Harvard.
Just this week a young man named Kobus van der Merwe from Paternoster had his little West-Coast restaurant named the best restaurant in the world.
We have shown, again and again, that we are a nation of champions. We can compete with and we can beat the best in the world.
This tells me the problem is not with us. As a people, we can do anything. It is in the character of our people to do great things. To be South African is to be resilient and to triumph.
That is who we are.
We are a nation of heroes, and we must celebrate them. And I don’t just mean the great figures of our history like Tata Madiba and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
I mean the everyday heroes all around us.
It’s the single mother who works all day and still manages to raise her children, despite the odds being stacked against her. Despite the daily threats to her safety and despite the terrible poverty of female-headed households.
It’s the young father who takes on his responsibility and takes care of his child. The father who stays present and involved and becomes a role model for his children.
It’s the teachers, nurses and policemen and women who do so much and deserve to be paid more for the important jobs they do.
It’s the social workers, the NGOs and the church volunteers who help feed and clothe the poorest in our communities.
It’s the business owner who works long hours and sacrifices so much to keep people employed.
It’s the ordinary people all around us – friends and strangers – who choose to see the heart of a person, and not their colour.
We certainly have no shortage of heroes. This is who we should celebrate!
Let me tell you about my own hero: my father.
His priority in life has always been to take care of his family – my two sisters, my brother and I.
He believed that this was his first responsibility as a father and so he worked as hard as he could to do just that.
Every day, rain or shine, he would leave our home in Dobsonville, early in the morning to go off to a job that I am sure he didn’t like.
As a black South African living under Apartheid, he knew he was never going to be the owner of that business.
He would get home late every night and then do it all over again the next day. I cannot recall him ever complaining.
He and many other fathers in our townships fought and sacrificed because they held on to the hope that there would be freedom in our country.
Ultimately, their children would have a better tomorrow.
It’s the fathers and mothers who fought the struggle so their children could one day have a better life.
That was why my father worked as hard as he did. He made sure that we had the best education that he could get for us. And nothing was more important than that.
I remember my father once sat me down and told me that he would even go without socks if that’s what it took for me to get an education.
He would have given up everything for me, because he truly believed in a better tomorrow.
But my father also knew that good things don’t just happen. You have to make them happen.
You have to help create the future you want. For him, this meant giving me an education that would open doors for me.
This is why my father is my hero.
Fellow South Africans,
Growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, I got to experience the very best and the very worst of South Africa in those short years.
From Apartheid’s state of emergency to the joy of our first democratic election, my childhood had it all.
By the time Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster Prison in 1990, there was optimism about the future everywhere around me.
This was the birth of a nation – the triumph over a system that had locked so many out. It felt like freedom was now possible for all of us, and not just some.
And when the time came for the people of South Africa to make their mark in the first democratic election, they did what every other post-colonial nation in Africa has done: They put their trust in the party that had liberated them.
This choice was never in doubt. If anyone was going to deliver the dream of a better future, then surely it had to be our liberators – the people who promised us a better life for all.
In those early years it looked like we might just get there.
Led by Nelson Mandela, our government built houses, schools, hospitals and roads. They connected communities to the electricity grid and to clean water.
We signed a new Constitution, which contained so many of the values of a great South African from whom I often draw inspiration: Helen Suzman.
This was a woman who didn’t need to share the faith or the race of the South Africans she fought for to know that equality was a virtue worth pursuing.
She knew that it would be possible to build a South Africa that belonged to all who live in it.
And she laid the foundation for the party we see here today – of black, white, Indian and colored South Africans – united in our diversity.
Those early days of our democracy felt great! We were a country that was overcoming its brutal past and were set for a better future, together.
One South Africa for all!
But then something happened – something that altered our course.
Our leaders lost sight of our goal. They realised they could make money off every job, every contract and every purchase that involved the government.
The posters still said “a better life for all”, but what we were starting to see was a better life for some.
While millions didn’t have clean water to drink, some were drinking the finest champagnes up on stage.
While many didn’t have food to eat, some were running up restaurant bills the size of a year’s wages.
While everyone else queued for crowded taxis, some drove up in the most expensive cars money could buy.
While many lived in RDP houses that collapsed if you leaned on them, others lived in palaces called Nkandla.
Those who started out as liberators had ended up looting from the people they liberated. And they were looting the Arms Deal, Bosasa and VBS while millions didn’t have money to get by.
Corruption has stolen the dignity and the future of millions of our people.
Today, 25 years into our democracy, the people of Matjhabeng in the Free State are still waiting for clean running water.
Today, 25 years into our democracy, children are still drowning in pit toilets at schools.
We never thought the liberation movement would turn their guns on our people.
Recently, on my Kasi to Kasi tour, I visited Sada in the Eastern Cape. I went to a small community there who had to fetch their water from a borehole that the government had come and dug for them.
A dog had fallen into the borehole and drowned, and now the people are sharing their water with a dead dog.
You ask yourself, shouldn’t these people have had clean water from taps years ago?
In Tshipise, in Limpopo, I met a grandmother who had put all her life savings in VBS bank, because it was a bank of the people.
But we know what happened: greedy people stole her hope, her dreams and the future of her kids. Try telling her that corruption has no victim.
It is corruption that makes mothers do despicable things just to get a job.
And let me tell you, this corruption is not isolated either. It’s not the exception to the rule.
It happens at every level of government – from crooked ward councillors all the way to the office of the President.
Our country was sold out by those who swore an oath to serve us.
And, as we have just learnt in the Zondo Commission, they betrayed our struggle for a braai pack, some beers and a handbag.
This is not who we are. Enough is enough!
Fellow South Africans,
We need change.
This is not the South Africa we dreamt about. This is not the better tomorrow my father spoke about.
I have spoken to more and more people who tell me the same story. They’ve been forced to accept the hard truth that things will not change in our country under this government, because the ANC will not change.
I know this is not an easy thing to admit. Turning away from the only party you’ve ever known is, for many South Africans, like giving up on a family member.
But when that family member threatens your safety and the future of your children, then you are forced to make a tough decision.
I know exactly when this happened for me. It was thirteen years ago in an informal settlement called Zandspruit.
I was helping an NGO deliver food parcels, and it was there that I came across an elderly woman digging a hole outside her home. I asked her what she was doing.
She said to me: “I’m digging a toilet.”
And that hit me hard.
It really disturbed me that this woman – she could easily have been my or your grandmother – had to dig her own toilet with her hands because, in twelve years of democracy, her government could not do it for her.
Like many South Africans, I felt a great disappointment in the ANC.
I was now confronted with a choice. And I could not, in my right mind, vote for a party that would let that woman dig her toilet.
How can our liberators forget us?
Fellow South Africans, at first we must be liberated, but then comes a time when we must liberate ourselves from the liberators.
That day in Zandspruit I learnt two things: I wanted to be of service to my country. And this service would have to happen outside of the ANC.
Our country desperately needed change. But I also knew that I needed a change.
I came to realise then that if I was serious about making a difference, then the bottom line – the only thing that mattered – was delivery.
And where the DA governs, they deliver.
This is a party with a track record of service delivery that puts others to shame.
A party that looks and feels truly diverse. A party that makes every effort to unite people while other parties are increasingly dividing us on race.
And a party that has never stolen money from anyone. When they speak of a zero tolerance for corruption, it isn’t just empty words. They mean it.
These are the facts that convinced me. And you can have your own opinions, but you can’t have your own facts.
That’s why I decided that if I was going to be of service to my country, it had to be through the DA.
And once I made that leap in my mind, I could picture a South Africa that worked in a way this government of ours could never achieve.
Fellow South Africans,
By the time I joined the DA, it was already making a huge difference in areas it governed.
I am proud that I lead a party that delivers for all South Africans.
In ten years the DA turned the Western Cape into the best-run province in South Africa.
When the DA took over in the Western Cape in 2009, not one single government department had received a clean audit. Last year, the Western Cape got 83% clean audits. The next best province was way back on 52%.
Clean audits matter, because it means that public funds are not wasted, stolen or poorly spent. It means that this precious money is spent on the people whom the government promised to serve.
But it’s on job creation that the Western Cape really shines. Its broad unemployment rate is a full 11 percentage points lower than the next best province.
And over the past year, more than half the jobs created in the whole of South Africa came from the DA-run Western Cape.
If you want to change lives, these are the facts that matter.
These achievements are a great tribute to the work started by Premier Helen Zille in the Western Cape, which will now be continued by Premier Alan Winde.
And we want to do the same for Gauteng, the Northern Cape and ultimately across the whole country.
Because, Democrats, the DA brings change that delivers jobs.
More recently the DA took over the metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay through coalition governments, and in a very short space of time they made a huge difference.
Over the past two years, Mayor Mashaba’s administration has created well over 100,000 jobs in Johannesburg.
He also immediately started cleaning out the corruption in the City of Johannesburg. He has already initiated thousands of investigations, and this has led to 362 arrests, 15 suspensions and 27 dismissals.
And Mayor Mashaba built a power station, on time, saving the people of South Africa R50 million from the budget. That’s real delivery.
Mayor Msimanga turned the Tshwane administration from a bloated, overstaffed operation into a professional lean and efficient office that gets things done.
From being R2 billion in debt when he took over in 2016, the City of Tshwane had a surplus within the first year of his administration.
Across South Africa, DA governments have done more to empower people through work, through better service delivery and through property ownership than this current government has.
In the past 10 years, the DA government in the Western Cape has made more than 100,000 families property owners with full title deed.
In just two years Mayor Mashaba’s administration has handed over more than 6,000 title deeds.
We are changing municipalities all across the country – from Modimolle and Thabazimbi to the furthest corners of the Western Cape.
Fellow South Africans,
Our opponents can sit in the corner and call us names, but they can’t argue with facts. And these are the facts:
More people find work where the DA governs, because we know what it takes to create jobs.
More people have access to quality healthcare where the DA governs, because we build world-class hospitals, like the state-of-the-art Khayelitsha Hospital.
More children stay in school and write Matric where the DA governs, because we understand the importance of quality education, and so we test our teachers to ensure a high standard.
More people have access to electricity and running water where the DA governs, because we don’t steal public money, and we spend the bulk of our budgets in poor communities.
No matter which way you look at it, the DA, as a governing party, is simply in a different league.
Yes, the DA has its shortcomings. Yes, it sometimes makes mistakes.
But we would never lie to you and we would never make promises we don’t intend to keep.
I can promise you that if the DA is in government, Life Esidimeni will never happen, and neither will State Capture.
We wake up every morning, animated by a need to deliver for our people.
Fellow South Africans,
If ever there was a time to think carefully about what it will take to turn South Africa around, it is now.
Our country is heading towards the edge of a cliff.
Almost 10 million people can’t find work, our national debt now stands at over R3 trillion and we have a power utility that is bankrupt and can’t keep the lights on.
We are rapidly approaching the day when there will be more people out of work than people with jobs. That is very worrying.
We need change. And we need it now.
And yet all we hear is talk of more summits, more talk shops and more plans that could happen some time in the future.
After 25 years of ANC rule, we are still told to “watch this space”.
The reality is, we’ve run out of time to watch. We need to do. Right now.
We have once again become a country split in two. We are once again a nation of insiders and the outsiders – those with jobs and opportunities, and those without.
We no longer need a liberation movement. We need a new agenda. We need a vision for tomorrow, led by a party that is focused on the future.
Our task now is to build a South Africa where no one is left out.
That’s where we come in. It is a South Africa that can only be built by a DA government, and I assure you it will not take us another 25 years.
Fellow South Africans,
We need change that builds the future.
If you are with me – if you share this vision for our country and want to help me build it – then we have no more time to waste.
The DA has a plan – an agenda for reform – to achieve this goal.
This Manifesto is a blueprint to build a government that works for all. A government to which only the best people will be appointed, and a government that is prepared to work with anyone who shares our vision for South Africa.
So let me tell you what this South Africa looks like to me.
For starters, it works. It is a country where citizens get up and go to work, and where the government works for its citizens.
I have a dream of putting a job in every home.
It cannot be that four out of every ten South African households do not have a single income. If we can put at least one job in every home, it will completely transform these homes.
The freedom and dignity that an income brings is hard to describe to someone who has never had to worry about food. A job in every home will mean that no one has to go hungry, ever again.
That is how we start to turn houses into homes.
And we will achieve this by freeing up the real heroes in job creation – the small business owners and the entrepreneurs – to do what they do best.
We will rebuild our economy by maximising the sectors that are key to job creation – sectors like Manufacturing, Agriculture and Tourism.
We will pass the Jobs Act which will offer tax incentives for people to come and open businesses that create jobs.
We will also introduce a year of voluntary National Civilian Service which will create a bridge between school and the world of work, and offer school leavers valuable work experience.
I also dream of making all South Africans the owners of their homes, with full title deed. I’m not interested in a system where people must live at the mercy of the State on land owned by the State.
We don’t just oppose the amending of the Constitution for the sake of it. We want to ensure that Section 25 is protected. This matter will end up in court.
We have shown we can deliver land reform within the Constitution. And where there is contestation we can settle compensation through our legal system, and not by politicians. We must never enslave our people at the mercy of the State.
That’s not freedom.
I want people to own their land and to own their houses, because property ownership is everything. It allows you to borrow money against the property, it allows you to pass it on to your children in your will, and it allows you to sell it, if you so choose.
I also want South Africans to have choice, which is why we will introduce a housing voucher which people can either use to build their home or as a down-payment on a house.
In the South Africa I want to build you will find estate agents in Alexandra and Khayelitsha, and not just in Sandton and Constantia, because property will have value wherever you go.
But a home means nothing if you don’t feel safe in it. You should be able to relax in your home knowing that there are enough trained police officers on the street to keep you safe.
In the South Africa I want to build, our police service will be a well-trained, properly equipped and highly motivated crime-fighting unit. Only the best professionals will lead it and the days of deployed cadres filling top positions will be gone for good.
I want the provinces to have more control over the police. This will allow us to build stronger partnerships between Metro and Provincial police so that we can better fight crime.
I also want a Rural Safety Unit to make sure that all our citizens living on farms are protected.
I want homes to be places of dignity, which means separate rooms for parents and children. It means well-built homes, with electricity, running water and flushing toilets.
I want to speed up the delivery of these basic services so that all South Africans can enjoy the basic rights guaranteed in our Constitution.
I want this country to have an empowerment model that truly empowers more citizens as owners of companies. Let’s give shares to the people who work on our mines.
A model that transforms society and helps to build an inclusive economy in order to address the historical injustices committed against black South Africans.
I want to better protect our most vulnerable from poverty. I am a father of two children and I know it is near impossible to raise any child on R400 a month. So we have to increase this to a living grant for children.
I want our country to have secure borders. I want to make it easy for everyone who wants to come here legally, but impossible for those who want to enter illegally.
In this South Africa we will be energy-secure and sustainable thanks to our advances in renewable energy and our welcoming of independent power producers.
We will be future-focused when it comes to our children’s education, and we will prepare them for a fast-changing world.
I want to build an ICT infrastructure that will allow all our citizens to become digital citizens.
And finally – and you can read much more about this in the manifesto – I want our country to function honestly and openly. The South Africa I want to build will have no place for corruption and corrupt politicians.
If you are a corrupt politician, you will spend at least 15 years in jail.
I want to create a new, independent and fully-resourced Anti-Corruption Unit, staffed by both specialist prosecutors and investigators.
Tenders will be awarded out in the open, and no politician will do business with the State. Zero tolerance is the only way.
Fellow South Africans, that’s the South Africa I want to build – a South Africa for all, where no one is left out.
And yes, we can afford it if we get our priorities straight.
If we sell off the SOE’s that don’t work, if we eradicate corruption, if we slash our cabinet in half, if we stop wasting money on unnecessary luxuries, then we can build the country of our dreams.
I want to meet with labour, business and government so that we can build a better partnership that puts the agenda for all South Africans at the top.
We can either talk past each other and strike, or we can work together, hear each other and build a South Africa for all. We will coalesce with anyone who shares this dream.
We can build this South Africa. But if we are to do this, I am going to need your help.
I need you to rediscover your optimism for this country of ours. I need you to remember the dream we once had for South Africa, all those years ago.
I also need you to remember what was given up so that we can have a better future. Because we have sacrificed too much as a nation to go back now.
Think of the families torn apart as people left their homelands and their villages to make a living in the city, often not seeing their loved ones for years.
Both my parents left their homes like that – my mother from Cofimvaba in the old Transkei, and my father from his home in Bophuthatswana – to seek a better life here in Johannesburg.
And they were lucky – they both found work. For most of my childhood there were two jobs in our home, and this gave us precious freedom as a family.
They may not have been great jobs but they still changed our lives. It meant that we had choice. Because that’s what freedom is: the ability to choose.
When you have a job, you can choose which school your children go to.
When you have a job, you can choose which clinic to go to.
When you have a job, you can choose what to have for supper.
I want this for every single South African family. And this freedom is only possible if we can put a job in every home.
So I am asking you now: Help me achieve this. This is the cause for our generation – the cause for which we, like my father, should be prepared to give up our socks.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and set up the next generation for a future that is better than today.
We are South Africans – a nation of heroes! We have done great things and we will still do great things when we stand together!
We are South Africans! We are not going to be knocked down with one punch. We will get right back up again. And when we do, the world will see us rise.
We have come this far, but what has got us here is not going to get us there.
I know we can grow our economy and create jobs. I promise we can realise the South African dream: If we work hard, our children can have a better future.
Let’s show the world the fighting spirit of South Africans.
Let’s build a better tomorrow, and let’s start by changing our government.
Because if we don’t, then we are telling this government that it is okay to carry on stealing from us.
In ’94 our people chose the ballot instead of the bullet. That’s your power.
Use your vote to fire the government that has been stealing from you.
Use your vote to hire a government that will serve you.
Use your vote to put a job in every home.
Use your vote to realise the dream we once had.
We can make history.
Join us on 8 May when we march towards a better future.
Let us build One South Africa for All!