What a time to be alive! In the past three weeks, we have witnessed one of the most radical and important changes our country has seen since 1994. On 3 August 2016, voters put South Africa on a new trajectory. And we reaffirmed that we work as a nation. Our democracy works, and South Africans are learning how to use it.
And South Africa’s opposition parties have successfully navigated the turbulent sea of coalition negotiations and emerged with practical, workable arrangements to govern those municipalities where the majority of voters voted for change.
The DA has formed a broad coalition with the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the Congress of the People (COPE), the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM), bound by the shared principle of putting South Africa first. The EFF chose not to enter into coalitions, opting rather to remain in opposition.
With DA mayors, this coalition is now governing Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Mogale City in Gauteng, as well as Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, Thabazimbi and Modimolle in Limpopo, and Metsimaholo in the Free State. I am confident that we can work together constructively for the benefit of all.
So the DA now governs 32 councils in five provinces in South Africa: Western Cape (with Beaufort West, Cape Agulhas, Cederberg, Matzikama, Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert being new), Eastern Cape (NMB and Kouga), Gauteng (Tshwane, Johannesburg, Mogale City and Midvaal), Limpopo (Thabazimbi and Modimolle/Mookgopong), and Free State (Metsimaholo).
Most critical of all, we now govern four of SA’s eight metros. So we have the potential to improve millions of lives – not just through clean government and efficient service delivery, but by creating an attractive environment for businesses to operate in SA’s major economic hubs.
It is fair to say that we not only met but indeed far exceeded all our targets in this election. We showed the world and ourselves what can be achieved when like-minded people work together with the power of principle on their side. I thank each and every voter who voted for change and who put their trust in us. Thank you for choosing hope over fear. Thank you for choosing the power of principle and performance and workable policies over the force of divisive fear-mongering and desperate rule-breaking.
The DA will work hard to show you that we deserve your trust and can deliver on your hope. We know full well that we do not have a divine right to rule. We know we must listen, and answer, to those who put us in power. And we know we must govern for every single person, not just for DA voters. We will strive to do our best at all times, for all the citizens of this country. We will strive never to take the voters for granted.
The DA has emerged from this election as a national government-in-waiting. Today we are a different party. And we are operating in a different country. Because this election has significantly realigned South African politics. The age of the arrogant dominant party acting with impunity is over. We have entered an era of vibrant, multiparty, competitive and cooperative politics. We have laid the foundation on which we can build a better life for all who live in this country, because in this election, the seeds have been sown for victory over our true enemies in the coming years: poverty, inequality and corruption.
We have much to celebrate. But there is still much to be done. Before this election, some six and a half million South Africans were experiencing some form of DA government. Now that number is around sixteen million. I believe that this fantastic new momentum and the opportunities it presents could get us to the Union Buildings in 2019. But only if we relentlessly pursue two objectives: we must deliver to the best of our ability, particularly to the poorest, where we govern; and we must grow our diversity so that we better reflect and represent our colourful country. In short, we have to build trust and change lives.
Finally, we must be mindful that, in the midst of our renewed hope, there lurks the growing risk that Zuma’s ANC will turn to ever more populist policies and plunderous projects in order to stave off defeat and syphon off public money while they still control the national purse strings. We are seeing this already with the renewed attack on Finance Minister Gordhan; the handing control to Zuma of all state-owned enterprises; and the zero percent university fees increase.
But while the ANC’s ship is sinking, South Africa’s tide is rising. LGE2016 has shown us that South Africa is bigger than the ANC. And the voters are in charge. They are the masters of her fate. They are the captains of her soul. Amandla awethu!