My fellow South Africans,
Viva DA Viva!
Since Jacob Zuma became President, over 1.8 million South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed.
That means that every day President Zuma remains in office, as he and his uncaring government preside over an ever worsening economic crisis, 774 more people join the ranks of the jobless. Every day.
As we speak, 8.4 million of our countrymen and women are without a job. And without hope, dignity and freedom.
Now more than ever, we need change that creates jobs. And that change is the DA.
This year – 2016 – is our chance as South Africans to take a stand and start bringing the change we need to move forward again.
Change that cuts corruption. Change that starts creating jobs. Change that puts South Africa first.
For this reason, we have decided to start 2016 by unveiling a billboard in the centre of Johannesburg that will serve as a reminder to us of how many of our fellow citizens lose hope every day by joining the ranks of the unemployed.
And as a reminder that this is the result of a government that puts the interests of themselves, their friends and family, and their party above those of the country they were elected to lead.
The billboard will contain a live ticker that will start on 1,842,852 and count up by 1 new jobless person every 112 seconds, to show the total of 774 people that become jobless in every 24 hour cycle under the leadership of Zuma’s ANC government.
But the billboard will also serve as a beacon of hope and change.
For the DA passionately believes in the potential of all South Africans, and wants to build a future where, if you put in the effort, you will be able to access economic opportunity and in so doing have self-worth and be able to provide for your family.
We have started building this future where we govern. We will begin building this future in the municipalities across South Africa that we will win in this year’s municipal elections. And we will continue to fight for this future in Parliament.
The DA represents change that creates jobs.
As we speak, millions of South Africans have no relief from spiraling unemployment and crushing poverty. On top of this a crippling drought threatens to send food prices rocketing.
For those without work, life is tough. A life without hope. A life without dignity.
For those without work, a better life for all is but a distant dream.
For those without work, the year ahead represents a scary struggle for survival.
There can be no doubt that our country made progress after 1994. Our economy grew and more opportunities were created for more South Africans.
But now corruption and empty promises are holding us back.
Last year, President Zuma stood up in Parliament and said, with a straight face, that if there is a government that is concerned about jobs in our country, it is this government.
Unfortunately, South Africa’s reality exposes the cruel lie this statement is. Since Jacob Zuma became President, over 1.8 million South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed. His is not a jobs government.
More than a third of South Africans of working age are either unemployed or have simply given up looking for work. South Africa does not have a jobs government.
People today work hard get an education and improve their skills. But you cannot get a job if you are not connected. The thousands of matrics who received their results yesterday will very shortly be confronted by a solid wall that stands in the way of opportunity. A solid wall built by Jacob Zuma’s ANC.
The President and his cabinet will tell you our unemployment crisis is a result of global economic conditions. This is false. Other developing nations are growing and creating jobs under these same conditions.
The only reason our economy can barely grow at 1% per year while other countries in similar circumstances can manage many times that is because we are governed by a party and led by a President who do not put South Africa and its people first and do not prioritise job creation.
A President whose government presides over corruption, ideological confusion and inexplicable decisions – Visa Regulations, the removal of Nhlanhla Nene – that kill jobs.
The number you see on this billboard here today is a reminder of the destruction that Jacob Zuma and the ANC have wrought on our economy.
Late last year he showed the entire world how little he cares about the economy when he fired Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with David van Rooyen. Within hours the Rand had dropped to record lows, and within days the global investment markets had sent a clear message about South Africa: under this President, the economy will keep going down, and unemployment will keep going up.
Just when the economy needs a shot in the arm, the President shoots it in the foot.
President Zuma never admits his mistakes, but the international and local backlash was so bad for him in December that even the ‘untouchable’ Teflon President had to backtrack and fire his new Finance Minister. But the damage to his own credibility as President was already done – he has proven, if any South African needed more proof, that he is not capable of giving the economic leadership our country needs right now. He is not capable of leading us out of the crisis of low growth and high unemployment that we face.
And already in 2016 President Zuma has shown that he is not really interested in fixing unemployment. If he was, he would never have allowed us to miss the deadline for the conclusion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) negotiations, that will see all South Africa’s agricultural goods excluded from preferential access to the world’s biggest market. It is not like the deadline was new or a surprise. We knew about it months ago, and agreed to meet it.
But in the Zuma government, promises and commitments mean nothing. Now, tens of thousands of farm workers’ jobs are at risk.
I cannot think of a worse start to the year for our economy, and for those thousands of workers who must now face this year with the worry of whether they will still have their jobs in six months’ time.
President Zuma’s poor leadership, and that of his Trade Minister, has put all of those jobs at risk.
But still the President claims that everything is the fault of the global economy. No, Mr President, it is you and your government that has broken our economy.
This is how history will remember you.
This is how South Africa will remember you.
2016 has to be the year in which we put South Africa first by focusing on economic growth and job creation that gives hope to the millions of South Africans without a job and without freedom.
That is why today, we launch our jobs campaign to give a voice to these millions who find themselves without hope, and to make sure that their plight is heard and acknowledged.
Our campaign will visit communities across the length and breadth of our country to hear the stories of the unemployed. We will collate these stories to give a voice to the voiceless, culminating in a mass march against unemployment, right here in the centre of Johannesburg on Wednesday 27 January. And we call on South Africans to join this march and walk in solidarity with the unemployed millions.
And we will take the voices of the unemployed to Parliament and we will fight for the solutions that will build an inclusive and prosperous economy.
Our campaign will restore hope in the prospect of a better tomorrow to millions of South Africans through demonstrating what targeted interventions can be made to help grow our economy and create jobs.
The DA has a five-step plan that if implemented would immediately tackle the economic crisis and create millions of jobs.
Firstly, we must invest in energy, transport and internet connectivity. South Africa must offer an environment where people will choose to invest and where businesses can thrive and create work. And ensure that our electricity supply is stable, sufficient and affordable.
This means dismantling the disastrous Eskom monopoly, and opening the grid to a far more balanced mix of power suppliers. It also means walking away from the unaffordable and unnecessary nuclear deal.
Secondly, we must improve education quality and outcomes. We need to give more South Africans the education and skills they need to get a job. Greater access to higher education can be funded if we prioritise it by cutting wasteful expenditure, abandon the procurement of a new presidential jet and scrap the nuclear build procurement deal.
Thirdly, Parliament should reform labour laws to create fairness for workers and employers – and create more opportunities for job-seekers by making it easier for businesses to hire. We simply have to balance the protection of workers’ rights with the necessary flexibility in the labour market to create jobs.
Fourthly, we must provide incentives for job creation through a real youth wage subsidy and government supported apprenticeship and internship programmes.
And finally, we need to increase support for small businesses. In our current low-growth environment, large enterprises cannot create more jobs. It is the small and medium enterprises that can create jobs on the massive scale we need.
By introducing tax incentives for business mentors, by changing the way BEE points are allocated to include skills development and job creation, by establishing One-Stop Opportunity Centres for government support and by reducing red tape, we can help small businesses make it through those crucial first few years of operation.
Let us empower entrepreneurs and create a nation of employers.
This plan would present the kind of policy certainty that gives investors confidence and peace of mind. It would start to show the world that South Africa is open for business.
The ANC and its alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, are unable to do this because they cannot agree amongst themselves. They are ideologically confused, which is why we have ended up with a host of contradictory plans such as the National Development Plan, and the New Growth Path
With our plan, South Africa will present investors with clarity and certainty in its economic policy. We will once again become a target of foreign direct investment, resulting in economic expansion and job creation.
We have shown where we govern that our plans and policies create jobs and reduce unemployment. Where we govern, unemployment is the lowest in South Africa.
DA governments invest heavily in energy, transport and connectivity, hire people who can do the job, not friends and family, attract investment to create more local jobs, help local people start small businesses and work with businesses to set up internship opportunities so that people can get skills and work experience.
This year, millions of South Africans will have an opportunity to bring this kind of government to their municipalities by voting for the DA. By voting for change that can help us start moving forward again – good services and enough jobs and opportunities for all.
It is time to fight again for the South Africa Madiba dreamt of: a united country with a clean government, better services and enough job opportunities for all. That change starts today.
I thank you.