The DA’s great hope for the New Dawn is that South Africa can begin to have a thorough, rational conversation about its political choices. For too long now, political commentators have focused on personalities rather than on the hard facts around good governance, drawing false equivalences between the DA and the ANC, two parties that frankly occupy different universes in terms of track records on good governance and corruption.
The true test of a government is its track record in improving people’s lives. One of the many damaging aspects of Jacob Zuma’s presidency was that he was effectively a human shield for the ANC, a lightning rod absorbing personal blame for party failures.
In Zimbabwe and South Africa, a change of leadership within the ruling party is being used as a magic trick to feign serious reform and keep voters hopeful that “this time it will be different”. But with Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma no longer around to take the blame for governance failures, the ruling parties will be held to a higher standard.
And they’ll start being judged on the right criteria: their track record, or demonstrated potential, to improve lives. I’m a firm believer that numbers speak louder than words. Well, the numbers coming out of the DA governed Western Cape speak loudly and clearly about the DA difference.
The latest jobs stats show that three quarters of all jobs created in South Africa in the past year were created in the Western Cape, despite a crippling drought in the area. That amounted to 123 000 new jobs, while during that same period, 124 000 jobs were destroyed in the country’s biggest provincial economy, Gauteng.
The Western Cape’s broad unemployment rate, at 22.5%, is just two thirds of Gauteng’s, at 33.6%. That’s a full 11.1 percentage point difference. And it’s 14.2 percentage points lower than South Africa’s, at 36.7%. This is the indisputable impact that the Western Cape Provincial Government’s focused economic growth plan, Project Khulisa, is having on people’s lives.
The logic behind Project Khulisa, launched in 2015, is to focus resources on sectors with the highest potential to accelerate job creation, particularly jobs in rural areas, jobs for young people, and jobs with low skills thresholds, all of which cater to the most marginalized groups in our society. But beyond the specific focus of Project Khulisa, we have relentlessly pushed to create an environment conducive to growing economic activity and social wellbeing.
First and foremost, that means investing in young people. The Western Cape is consistently rated as the top performing province on the key indicators for matric pass rates – ‘bachelors passes’, maths and science passes and ‘learner retention’.
The province has also reached its target of full broadband coverage to 1875 sites, including over 1200 schools and over 200 libraries. Educated, connected people are people more able to get ahead in life. And residents in the Western Cape are also physically better connected, with over 95% of all kilometres travelled in the Western Cape in fair to very good condition – you can literally see and feel the difference when driving into the province.
Our government is now starting a set of housing projects that will provide housing opportunities to a total of 105 000 households by 2022. It has empowered over 90 000 households so far with title deeds, and achieved a 62% success rate for all land reform farms in the province.
This real, life-improving progress has been achieved because DA governments put people first and spend public money judiciously and honestly. For the most recent audited financial year (2016/17), the Western Cape was once again the country’s top province, achieving 80% clean audits with Gauteng coming in a distant second at 52%. It is ultimately this good financial governance, together with smart policy, that enables improved service delivery.
Amilcar Cabril advised: “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. . .”
This is exactly what the DA does. We improve people’s lives, particularly the poorest people. By comparison, ANC governments around the country are on the verge of collapse, as President Ramaphosa himself has pointed out.
And this is what will inform voter choices in 2019, when Zuma will have long ceased to be the scapegoat for the ANC’s many failures. South Africans deserve a capable government. It’s now time to spread the DA difference further afield. The DA is looking forward to rolling out this kind of government in Gauteng and the Northern Cape.