This coming weekend, the DA will hold it Federal Congress, the largest and the most diverse in the history of the party.
This Congress and its size speak to the tremendous growth of the DA over the years.
The party now governs over 16 million South Africans in three metros and a number of DA-led municipalities and the Western Cape.
As such, it is crucial that we deliberate and vote on policies and resolutions which seek to address the many issues that confront the people of this country.
Over the next couple of days, the DA will discuss and vote on more than 50 resolutions, seeking to drive the DA’s policy agenda and give practical expression to our values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity.
The DA is the only party in South Africa which wants to govern for all South Africans. We want to build a nation where no person is excluded because of race, gender, income or religion.
The resolutions presented at this Congress build on, and extend, the DA’s policy offer for creating an inclusive society. The resolutions will speak to key areas of exclusion with a focus on how the DA will address them as a party of national government.
The reality is that for many South Africans, life is still way too difficult. Millions of our people are excluded from the economy, from owning property, from access to quality health care, from education, from living without the fear of crime, from fair access to government services and private sector opportunities.
Too many South Africans live on or below the poverty line, homeless and excluded from society itself with little or no chance of an avenue of relief through meaningful social development initiatives.
Each of the above areas of exclusion will be covered by resolutions which aim to build a more inclusive country. Where we focus on providing avenues of inclusion for all South Africans, the DA also recognises that there are other government enablers which are vital for an inclusive society. We also recognise the importance of justice as part of an inclusive society for every person, regardless of race, gender, income or religion.
DA policy framework, ‘A South Africa that works’ and congress resolutions
For too long South Africa had a broken president propped up by a broken governing party. This legacy in many respects has left us with a deteriorating country: corruption, a bloated national administration, weak local governments, a skills crisis, low economic growth, and poor prospects for the future. As the DA heads to its Federal Congress, our policy focus is on how to create a South Africa that works for all.
Creating a South Africa that works requires us to get three things right:
- getting South Africans into work;
- creating the environment for work; and
- ensuring nobody is left behind and out of work.
The resolutions which will be debated at our federal congress speak to this framework.
Getting South Africans into work:
Our task begins with the individual, and ensuring that each South African is provided with the opportunities to live an independent life free from the indignity of life-long dependency on the government.
17 million South Africans live on state provided social grants, and over 50% of South Africans live in poverty. While we must be a society that takes care of the most vulnerable, our ideal remains to enable people to stand on their own two feet. A growing population of grant dependents is not a success.
Our priority is to get young people (ages 18-34) into employment; both because South Africa has a large young population and because missing that first step into the workplace has lifelong consequences. Along with the priority of getting young people into employment we are determined to harness the lost skills in the retired workforce. The DA is committed to a ‘cradle to grave’ approach, to enable all South Africans to be economically productive citizens if they choose, and for as long as they choose. This requires a strategy for every phase of human development from early childhood right up to reskilling, for older workers.
The key resolutions to be discussed at congress on getting South Africans into work include:
DA resolution: Social assistance and social grants
The DA views child care grants as a priority in developing human capabilities. An effective child grant is not only about the vulnerability of children in the present, but a way to mitigate the future social costs linked to childhood malnutrition. A well-balanced diet is critical for a child’s development and ability to learn and work later in life. The present grant system does not allow for adequate nutritional support, therefore the DA will debate raising the child grant progressively, to an objective measure of what it costs to a feed a child.
DA resolutions: Health care
The DA seeks to provide better quality health care to those previously excluded from access. This includes introducing an Expanded Clinic Building Programme in under-served areas nationwide and recognising the unfeasibility of the current NHI model proposed by the ANC government, working with private healthcare insurance companies to extend insurance coverage and developing a new government healthcare funding mechanism for those still not covered.
DA resolution: Basic education
South Africa’s basic education system is in a state of crisis, negatively affecting young people’s ability to perform in a knowledge-driven global economy, and blocking South Africa’s human capital pipeline from producing a steady flow of skilled and highly skilled individuals into the labour pool. The resolutions for discussion include, among others, the creation of specialist teacher training colleges in every province, the establishment of a National Education Inspectorate to ensure that teaching standards are met, and declaring principals, cleaners and food providers as providing ‘essential services’ at all schools.
DA resolutions: Higher Education, Technical and Vocational Learning and Skills Development
There are currently thousands of matriculants who qualify for tertiary education (either at a university or a TVET college) along with thousands of other young people (almost the same number as matriculants). Additionally, of the students accepted into a programme at tertiary level, over one-third will be forced to drop out due to lack of funds, transport and accommodation.
The DA believes that no academically capable student should ever be left behind because of a lack of access to funding. However, not every student will be able to, nor should attend a university. South Africa’s higher education landscape is at present disproportionately skewed towards university enrolment as opposed to vocational learning and skills development programmes. In this regard the DA’s congress will debate expanding access to tertiary institutions with the roll-out of a government-initiated system of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). As well as ensuring two, equally respectable, streams of higher education: the first would focus on research and innovation outputs such as in medicine and tech; and the second on providing technical and vocational learning and skills development.
- Creating the environment for work:
The DA recognises that developing individual capabilities must be accompanied by an environment supportive of economic growth and job creation. It is futile to prepare people for jobs that do not exist, to place innovators in an environment hostile to entrepreneurship, or to draw investors into a regulatory environment that is uncompetitive. Therefore, the next part of our story of ‘A South Africa that works’ must explain how we are going to create the environment for work.
DA resolution: A city-led economic growth agenda
Our approach is to place locally-led growth at the heart of the economic agenda. Globally, cities are increasingly setting the pace for growth. This approach is intuitive; local growth strategies are sensitive to local realities, they tend to be less bureaucratic which allows them to be both agile and responsive to the communities they serve. Cities and large towns produce 80% of South Africa’s output, and they are home to 69% of the country’s population.
This strategy is a coherent fit with our principled belief in federalism; a closer government is a more accountable government. As well as speaking to our party’s strengths in collaborative city coalition governments. In South Africa the DA governs the triple engines of the economy: The City of Cape Town, the City of Johannesburg, and the City of Tshwane. Together with Nelson Mandela Bay these metropolitan regions are responsible for over 50% of South Africa’s GDP. The bottom line is this: the DA governs the economy.
The experience we have gained from our successes and challenges at a local level, as well as our knowledge of frontier research on city-led growth, informs our view that in national government we could do more to enable local growth. Congress will debate how to enable primary cities to drive the growth project while growing secondary cities, and ensuring that rural communities benefit from technological advancements and are linked to urban markets.
DA resolution(s): Land reform
Land is a powerful economic resource with the potential to create opportunities that extend beyond the people who physically occupy it. But the land debate in South Africa has been approached as a tool for political rhetoric rather than an economic resource. Land reform initiatives by government have failed significantly in South Africa. The High-Level Panel’s Report indicates that land reform is characterised by all the signs of State Capture such as budgets being siphoned off by elites, corruption in land acquisition and allocation, increasing maladministration, huge tracts of underutilised land, poor and reducing state capacity and inconsistent policy.
The DA’s discussions on land reform at congress will commit the party to the development and implementation of land reform policies that extend property ownership, attract investment, create jobs in the form of win-win partnerships and helps our nation to heal from the divisions of the past.
DA resolution: Corruption
The government has no inherent authority or resources of its own; it serves both at the pleasure and at the expense of the electorate. Therefore, the advantages that accrue from the influence it wields, and the resources it extracts from hardworking people and businesses, must be enjoyed by the people of South Africa. This does not happen where there is corruption.
The DA’s resolutions on corruption will be an opportunity for the party to discuss giving citizens an opportunity to get rid of corrupt political leaders by allowing the electorate to elect the President, Premiers and Mayors directly; carrying out lifestyle audits for politicians and public servants where appropriate, in conjunction with government agencies such as SARS and SAPS; as well as instituting minimum 15-year jail sentences for anyone found guilty of abusing taxpayers’ money.
DA resolutions: Good governance
The DA will be proposing decreasing the size of the Executive; returning to a human rights-based foreign policy; de-politicising State-Owned Enterprises and commissioning an independent feasibility study that will examine the economic impacts of privatising certain State-Owned Enterprises; and sell of existing ageing or underutilised assets; develop and implement climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
DA resolutions: Justice
Resolutions pertaining to justice for all South Africans by holding government accountable will also be proposed. These include the Life Esidimeni tragedy; paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the Marikana tragedy and fighting for justice and compensation for their families; and removing VAT on sanitary products and expanding sanitary product access to those who cannot afford it as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and toxic patriarchy
DA resolution(s): Small business
Small businesses are frequently subjected to discriminatory practices by legislators, municipalities and law enforcement agencies who prevent them from trading or change the environment into an unfriendly business environment. The DA believes that the right to trade is a fundamental one and should guide legislators’ and relevant authorities’ thinking when drafting regulatory measures.
The resolutions on small business include introducing an overtly pro-small business policy approach which removes blockages and red-tape, implementing a Tax Amnesty for small businesses, calling on government and big business to honour their commitments to pay suppliers within 30 days, and declaring support for the Prompt Payment Code, a voluntary code of good practice initiated by the National Small Business Chamber.
DA resolution: Doing away with the ANC’s VAT increase
The cost of government corruption, a bloated administration, and low economic growth have taken its toll on the national budget. Narrowing the fiscal deficit is a priority but the DA recognises that poor South Africans suffer most from a VAT increase, and that while government failures have increased government salaries have grown faster than those employed by the private sector. This is an untenable situation. The DA will therefore discuss at its upcoming congress a resolution to reverse the VAT level to the previous 14% level.
DA resolution: Empowering South Africa through broad inclusion compact
Despite political inclusion, 23 years after democracy many still experience economic and social exclusions that are rooted in the exclusions of the past. The DA believes the private sector has an important role to play in eradicating exclusion and ensuring inclusive growth for the future. The government cannot solve all the country’s problems.
It is the DA’s aim to break down the boundaries between economic insiders and outsiders which are enforced by systematic exclusion; exclusion from a safe and secure environment, exclusion from efficient transport, exclusion from decent education and healthcare etc. An effective empowerment policy would bring the innovative capacity, resources, expertise, entrepreneurial passion and risk taking of the private sector to bear on all these issues instead of a narrow focus on ownership and management control which can only benefit a few.
Narrow and prescriptive empowerment legislation, such as B-BBEE, that focuses on ownership and control is costly and undervalues other contributions which businesses can and do make in society including:
- Creating and retaining jobs
- Providing clean energy and water purification plants in rural communities or other social impact investments
- Awarding scholarships and/or building technology labs for under-resourced schools
- Setting up shop in new locations outside of the primary commercial hubs, thus growing secondary cities and towns
- Mixed-use social housing developments
- Providing affordable healthcare of a quality superior to the public healthcare system
The Business Climate Survey released in 2017 by the EU Chamber of Commerce and Industry cites B-BBEE as the primary disincentive for business in SA.
The resolution on an inclusion compact asks congress to discuss the introduction of an empowerment policy which, like social grants, places disadvantage at the core of identifying beneficiaries. In addition, this new approach must allow each business to develop a social impact strategy that aligns to its competitive interests. Just as the social contributions made by NGOs and volunteer organisations differ to meet wide ranging societal needs. Lastly, this flexibility should not mean a lack of measurability. Congress will discuss the suitability of aligning how South Africa measures social contribution and sustainable business practices with global best practice. In this regard the DA would work with the financial services industry, civil society, and the domestic and foreign investment community to develop an empowerment index, like ESG indices already familiar to financial markets, to replace the parochial and internationally unfamiliar BBB-EE scorecard.
DA resolution(s): Safety and security
Creating the environment for work means ensuring that people feel safe and secure wherever they live, work, and play. The DA at congress will discuss measures to devolve policing responsibility to provinces and metropolitan areas especially those with proven capacity. We will also discuss, among other interventions, the professionalisation and specialisation of SAPS including converting some TVET colleges into specialist colleges that will serve future generalist officers and specialist officers wanting to become expert investigators, criminologists, cybercrime analysts, crime intelligence analysts, organised crime task team members etc.
- Ensuring nobody is left behind and out of work
Even with the most well laid out policies and execution, there will be people who are left behind. This third part of our approach sets the government up as ‘the employer of last resort.’ This is what we plan to do to help those who have slipped through the cracks.
The private sector must drive job creation. For that reason, our responsibility as the employer of last resort is to help people back onto the path to securing a job and an independent income.
DA resolution(s): Jobs
The party has tabled many resolutions at its congress aimed at answering what the government can do to support jobs over and above facilitating the environment for the private sector to create jobs. In this regard delegates will debate the following:
- The introduction of a jobseekers’ allowance to the value of R150 per month for all unemployed young people aged 18-34;
- Rolling out a national Job Centres project (known as the Khuphuka Centres) where unemployed people can access job opportunities (including learner ships and apprenticeships) on a local database, get assistance in preparing job applications or receive employment counselling;
- Introducing a National Civilian Service year to provide work experience for the approximately 78 443 unemployed matriculants (from the class of 2016 alone) to enter work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields;
- Expanding the Expanded Public Works Programme and giving more people access to these opportunities by making the system fairer and more transparent.
- A Job Seekers’ Exemption Certificate (JSEC), valid for two years, be implemented to give unemployed people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, the right to enter into any employment agreements with an employer on any conditions with which they are comfortable.
Our policy offering:
In summary the DA will head to its Federal Congress to elect the party’s leadership but also to receive a mandate to develop the policies that will describe how the DA plans to get people into work, how we will create the environment for work, and what we will do to ensure nobody is left behind and out of work.
The Blue Line:
The DA believes that what we offer South Africans must be distinctive. This distinction between what we offer and business as usual is ‘the blue line’.
The Federal Congress, and its resolutions, is an opportunity for us to debate not only what our offer is, but also why. In some instances, it is the content which will set us apart, in other instances it will be how we answer the question ‘why this policy?’
Why offer a path for individual development as our approach to ‘getting people into work’, why offer a closer and more devolved economic growth path as our core approach to ‘creating the environment for work’, and why do we view the government as the employer of last resort as our approach to ‘ensuring nobody is left behind and out of work’? The simple reason is that we know that when people have control over their own lives, when they can hold government to account, and when they are given a second chance; they succeed.
While the government has an important role to play, we believe in the potential of every South African in shaping their own future. South Africa embarked on a historical mission in 1994 to become a country for all, now we want to make sure that South Africa is not only an inclusive country, but a modern and leading 21st century economy. This will define how we create ‘A South Africa that works’.
The DA is exceptionally proud of the congress we are able to put together this coming weekend.
This will be the largest congress in the history of the party, drawing over 2 000 delegates from all parts of the country, and will be reflective of the fact that the DA is the most diverse party in South Africa. The DA has exponentially grown, since 2015 where we it had just over 1200 delegates. These delegates are made up of branches, councillors, MPLs and MPs across the country. Again, this demonstrates how we are vibrant and effective structures in every corner of the country, something which the party does not take for granted. As the delegates descend upon Tshwane this weekend, each province will be sending a number of people depending on their proportional support. The delegates are divided as follows:
|Province||No of Delegates|
|Province||No of Delegates|
The DA is now officially ready to receive all delegates from across the country as they will start arriving to attend Federal Council and the DA Youth and DA Women’s Network congresses taking place tomorrow. In a short while, we will be able to take the media through the venue as we get ready for Congress on Saturday and Sunday. Members of the media are advised of the following details for this weekend:
- Venue is 6 000-square meters
- Over 120 personnel have worked over the last week to setup the venue
- 28-kilometres of draping
- More than 4 000 chairs and 700 tables
- 5 000 balloons
- Three TV studios, 8 radio studios
- Over 200 media personnel
- More than 200 000 tag-pins and 5 000 cable ties
- No buses will drive through the night, therefore delegates will arrive on Friday
- First party Congress to use an electronic accreditation tag
The kind of growth the DA has achieved in just three years showcases that more and more South Africans are choosing DA-led governments because of their ability to deliver to all South Africans, efficiently. We demonstrated this sufficiently in the metros of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town, as well as in the Western Cape at large.