The DA’s 2019 prom­ise is to bring change that builds one SA for all

Sunday Times - - Opinion - MMUSI MAIMANE Maimane is leader of the Demo­cratic Al­liance

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.

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