Note to editors: the following statement was delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a media briefing following a two-day sitting of the party’s Federal Council. Maimane was joined by DA National Spokesperson, Solly Malatsi, DA Gauteng Leader, John Moodey, and DA Mpumalanga Leader, Jane Sithole.
The Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance met over the last two days to discuss matters of importance to the party and our national programme ahead of the 2019 general election.
Election Campaign 2019
Federal Council ratified the party’s election campaign strategy and set out our electoral goals. As stated before the DA will work hard to retain the Western Cape, become the biggest party in Gauteng and the Northern Cape, ultimately increasing our national footprint in South Africa. The DA’s offer of competent and transparent governments is a compelling one which we have demonstrated in the City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. When we took over in 2016, we inherited bankrupt and corrupt administrations which the ANC had used to loot public money. We sought to clear the rot and get the governments back to the business of delivering basic services.
This week, the country will be honouring the legacy of President Nelson Mandela. The DA is the only political party that has embraced his legacy, lives his values and is working to realise his vision for the people of South Africa. The most powerful way we can truly commemorate Madiba is to acknowledge the injustices of the past and to bring change to people who have been locked in poverty since the dawn of democracy.
To dishonour Madiba’s legacy is to steal poor people’s money and collapse local governments through VBS Bank, starve the most vulnerable of our society by not resolving the SASSA crisis and allowing our people to live with the indignity of using pit toilets in our country.
The DA set out this plan to put all South African people first by resolving the following:
Ours is a country of great potential which started on a good path in 1994 but has since lost its way from the vision set out by the founding father of our democracy.
The direction taken by the governing party has resulted in a country where crime is rising, corruption oppressively holds our people back and there is no fair access to jobs. South Africans need change from the current corrupt system of empty promises.
Federal Council therefore resolved:
- In the week in which we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, the most patriotic thing we can do is commit to getting South Africa back on track.
- The way to get South Africa back on track is by bringing change that puts all the South African people first. And that change will be brought in next year’s general election where the DA will present an offer that focuses on the following;
- Fighting corruption;
- Providing fair access to real and long-term jobs;
- Making our police force honest and professional so that it serves and protects with pride;
- Securing our borders; and
- Providing better government.
All provinces will have finalised their premier candidates process by the 18th of August. It has been important for the DA to attract candidates who will embody the values of the party and take our offer to every corner of the country. Federal Executive has also taken the decision to extend the deadline for the candidate application process to the end of July. We are the only party which seeks to draw the best talent possible so that our lists are diverse.
Cost of living
The Federal Council discussed the unsustainable cost of living pressures that South Africans are currently facing, as a result of the ANC government’s mismanagement of the economy. The constant bailing out of Eskom and SAA has left a huge fiscal hole which has had to be filled by massive tax increases, especially in fuel levies and VAT. Investors are turning their backs on South Africa because of irresponsible proposals and violent rhetoric on land expropriation. And President Ramaphosa has not shown any significant progress in the fight against corruption in his party and his government. All of these factors have made for an economic environment that is job-shedding, and in which those who do have work are feeling increasingly insecure in their work.
It is clear that these cost of living increases have a profoundly negative effect, particularly for poor and low-wage South Africans, and in families living on one income. The statement by a senior policy maker in the ANC, that fuel increases don’t effect the poor because they don’t own cars, was condemned by Federal Council delegates as ignorant and deeply disrespectful. The ANC has no idea how South Africans are struggling to make ends meet.
The DA has made specific proactive proposals to reduce the levy payable to the Road Accident Fund to provide immediate relief to consumers, and to reduce the tax portion payable on fuel over time to get the price back to a reasonable level. This will ease pressure on food and transport prices.
Economic Policy Framework
Federal Council considered a detailed presentation by the DA’s Head of Policy, Gwen Ngwenya MP, on a new framework for the DA’s Economic Policy, The Open Economy. This framework is founded on setting the DA apart from all other political parties with clear alternative policies for economic growth and job creation, and for improving access to jobs for all. This framework represents significant progress in the DA’s policy building process, and will now be developed into a comprehensive alternative economic vision. All structures throughout the party will participate in the finalisation of this document.
Amendment to Regulations
Federal Council had been scheduled to discuss proposed amendments to the Regulations for the Nomination of Candidates. The DA prides itself of having a candidate selection system which is a model of internal democracy, and which prevents gatekeeping and provides requisite checks and balances.
The proposed amendments generated healthy internal debate. A sub-committee was formed to make a proposal, and this sub-committee met this weekend and took advice from the Federal Legal Commission.
The sub-committee recommended that Federal Council obtain a legal opinion to guide its future deliberations. Until this process is concluded, provincial leaders will not serve on selection panels. Both of these recommendations were accepted.
This is a positive outcome for the DA, as our adherence to our regulations and constitution was confirmed, and our culture of open and vigorous internal debate was entrenched.
This has been another productive and forward-looking meeting of the DA’s Federal Council. The DA is ever-more focused on the urgency of the upcoming election campaign, and in particular the need to speak to millions of voters in a countrywide door-to-door to encourage voters to register ahead of the elections. We are moving closer towards a full election campaign readiness footing – with a powerful offer to voters, a galvanised and focused election machine, and tens of thousands of volunteers mobilised across the country.