The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader on the second day of his nationwide #BackToThePeople tour in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape. The Leader was joined by the DA’s Western Cape Leader, Patricia De Lille, and DA Provincial Chairperson, Anton Bredell.
Good morning fellow South Africans, Goeie more almal
Thank you for meeting with me this morning on the second day of my #BackToThePeople tour. I am travelling to every corner of the country to visit all of the new DA-run municipalities, in order to report back to communities on our election results, and share the DA’s vision of the kind of South Africa we’d like to build with you.
I said before the elections that I would return – that the DA would not be one of those parties that only shows up every five years before elections – and I intend to keep my word.
It is really wonderful to be here with you in Dysselsdorp, Oudtshoorn, which is now a blue town. In the 2016 local government election, the residents of Dysselsdorp chose to reject the ANC’s corruption in favour of the DA’s promise of honest government that puts South Africa first.
And I am absolutely thrilled that for the first time since 1994, the Oudtshoorn municipality has been won by an outright majority, and is now finally being run by the DA.
With a long history of instability, which has negatively affected the people of Oudtshoorn, I can now gladly say that we’re on our way to making Oudtshoorn a well-run town, where the lives of all are improved.
I want to thank each and every resident who voted for the DA. Thank you for putting your trust in us. We will work hard every day to repay that trust.
Democrats, today I want to talk to you about the most pressing issue facing our beloved country right now.
During my travels across the country, I get to ask many South Africans what they perceive the biggest problem facing us at present. If we turn on the TV or the radio, we may be brought to believe that it is the higher education funding crisis, or university shutdowns. Or maybe even housing, sanitation, or healthcare.
But I can tell you now, from what I have heard and seen right across this country, the biggest issue we face collectively as a country, and the biggest hindrance to redress and prosperity in South Africa, is unemployment.
8.9 million South Africans cannot find a job.
Fellow South Africans, just this week, Gwede Mantashe came out and stated that his job as ANC Secretary-General will in all likelihood “kill him”. What he no doubt is referring to is the stressful job of having to keep up with the lies, the “spinning”, and the cover ups within Jacob Zuma’s ANC. Telling the truth is easy, but lying and deceit is tiring because the more it grows, the more you have to remember and the more you have to cover up.
And what’s killing Gwede the most is having to spin and cover up the mess Jacob Zuma is inflicting on South Africa.
Under Jacob Zuma’s ANC, more than two million more South Africans have joined the ranks of the jobless since 2009.
Our stubborn unemployment rate will not budge. Over the past 6 years it has shown no signs of shifting, yet Zuma orders the same old economic policies, based on the same old rhetoric, with the same old failed results.
Democrats, our unemployment crisis disproportionately affects black and coloured South Africans in negative matter. That’s not my opinion. It’s a cold, hard fact.
And let’s be frank: Jacob Zuma couldn’t care less. While the ANC campaign using racial rhetoric – claiming to be the so-called “voice of black people” – their unwavering economic policies only operate to keep poor black people entrapped in poverty, with no way out.
What a shame!
However, within the ANC, South Africa may have a martyr.
Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan has quickly become the newest target of President Zuma, by taking firm stances – internally and externally – on matters relating to our country’s expenditure. This has put him in political “hot water”, and made him extremely unpopular with Zuma circles.
This has culminated in the Minister being peculiarly charged by National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a seemingly ordinary act within the course and scope of his job.
Under this immense cloud of controversy, Minister Gordhan is set to deliver his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament tomorrow afternoon.
The purpose of this statement is to set out the policy direction towards the 2017 national budget, and will no doubt be watched like a hawk by rating agencies and the international community.
The MTBPS delivered tomorrow is simply a policy statement, not a complicated figures based budget.
Therefore, today I extend a challenge to the Minister: Don’t make this a “business as usual”, rehash of the same old decisions that have led us to this place.
I challenge him to be bold, and forge a new path with regard to policy positions and initiative – specifically around economic growth and job creation.
The Minister has the power to announce a myriad of policy directives, aimed at addressing our unemployment crisis.
He could announce an extended and modified Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) which will see many more young people find work;
He could announce more direct funding for start-ups and entrepreneurs, to become job creators in the private sector;
He could announce a plan to fund a zero percent increase for poor university and college students, allowing students to access tertiary funding and become equipped to access opportunities;
He could announce a plan to stop the nuclear deal, saving the fiscus hundreds of billions;
He could announce public-private partnerships with several State-Owned Enterprises, ensuring that our SOEs become competitive and profitable, and that more money is freed up to channel into job creation.
Make no mistake, as the DA we are against the frivolous and trumped up criminal charges against Minister Gordhan. We will be joining the march– along with civil society and many other organizations – in solidarity with him when he appears in court on 2 November.
But, as the DA, we are also against another formulaic and predictable MTBPS which will – as in the past – do nothing to change our economic outlook, and hand a hammer blow to the 8.9 million South Africans without a job.
The scene has never been better set for Minister Gordhan to break rank from the tried, tested, and failed economic policies of the Zuma government, and provide a fresh, new way forward.
Our people are crying out for job opportunities. While ANC cadres jump from one highpaying job to the next, ordinary South Africans are left without any hope of finding work.
Let us put the challenge to Minister Gordhan and see if he is brave enough to break rank and announce bold new policy initiatives that create jobs for the 8.9 million South Africans who are without work.
Our people deserve better!