On Saturday September 22 the DA officially launched its 2019 election campaign at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was a festive and colourful occasion, attended by thousands of people who had one thing in common: a passionate desire to rescue our country from the destructive path it is on and set it on a new path towards prosperity, inclusivity and safety.
There is no doubt we have lost our way as a country. The SA of today bears no resemblance to the country we envisaged for ourselves at the start of our democracy in 1994. Corruption and mismanagement have become endemic to the government, and the result is a country that lags behind its peers on just about every measure you can imagine. Our country still has deep divisions of colour, of gender and religion. But the biggest division in our society is between those on the inside — people with jobs, good education and access to opportunity — and the millions still locked out of our economy.
In 1994 we may not have been united, but we had a common goal and we spoke of a shared future. This is what we must rediscover if we are to fix our country. When I travel across the country, the vast majority of citizens I meet are committed to building one shared SA for all. Some of these citizens have already voted for the DA, and more will surely follow as they realise that 1994 was not about the rejection of a race of people but the rejection of a system of oppression. And that our message of oneness is not driven by a superficial idea of a rainbow nation, but by a real mission to break down the barriers to a prosperous, shared tomorrow.
At our campaign launch last month we painted a picture of the kind of transformation of society we have in mind. One where the politics of patronage has no place. One where nationalism and racial mobilisation are shunned. One where the rights of citizens are guaranteed as individuals, and not because they belong to a certain race or class. We spoke of the five key themes our election campaign would focus on — access to jobs, overhauling the SAPS, fighting corruption, speeding up basic service delivery and securing our borders — because we know these are the issues that really matter to voters. We call this our agenda for change.
But more important, we spoke of the need to build this country of our dreams as one united people pursuing one common goal. Because without this unity of purpose we will not succeed in building a country in which every man, woman and child can live a life they value, in which they can feel safe in their communities and in which they can fully grasp the opportunities presented by a revitalised economy. That’s why our 2019 campaign pledge is “Change that builds one SA for all”.
No other party wants this for SA. No other party is committed to building one nation from our fractured past and our divided present. No other party has a plan to bridge the divide between the economic insiders and outsiders. No other party of credible size even pretends to speak for all South Africans. The growing racial nationalism on display from the ANC and the EFF can only take us back to a place we must never, ever return to.
If you weren’t already convinced that this newly reunited ANC/EFF alliance is toxic for our future prospects, then the brazen looting of VBS Mutual Bank should help clear things up. This was an ANC-masterminded heist in which the EFF happily shared the spoils. Against this backdrop of criminal co-operation, consider their desperate attempts to regain control of the metros they lost in 2016 and the threat this poses to public money in these cities. If the VBS scandal has taught us one thing, it’s that systemic corruption can unite even the most vocal opponents.
The DA is also the only party doing instead of just talking.
Over the past decade the DA has proven that it is far more than a formidable opposition party. We are a party of government at provincial, metro and municipal level, and where we govern we have put clear daylight between us and the ANC in every single measure of good governance. And, importantly, we have done so in coalition governments by maintaining a disciplined focus on the needs of citizens. So, when we speak of the SA we intend to build, it is not pie-in-the-sky promises. We have proof that we can deliver.
The pledge we made to the people gathered at our campaign launch will now be taken to every corner of the country, and into every single community by our army of public reps, staff members, activists and volunteers — a movement we have dubbed “Team One SA”. And as our campaign grows, so will Team One SA as every South African who shares our vision joins in. Together we will bring the change that builds one SA for all. Let’s find our way again.