Let us turn Tshwane blue like a flood of Jacaranda blooms

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
15 Sep 2021 in News

The following speech was delivered by DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen  at the Tshwane Mayoral Candidate Launch in Tshwane

See the attached photos here, here

Good morning, fellow Democrats.

What a pleasure and honour it is to address you today as we kick off the Mayoral campaign of our incumbent Mayor, Randall Williams, here in the beautiful City of Tshwane.

I love this city, not only because it is our nation’s capital, not only because it is so breathtakingly beautiful when the Jacarandas come out in bloom, not only because it is home to the best provincial rugby team on the planet – and I say that as a Sharks supporter. I love this city because of its amazing people.

Every time I visit here I am struck by the down-to-earth hospitality and open-heartedness of the people of Tshwane. They always make you feel welcome and they always make you look forward to coming back. And these good people of Tshwane deserve a city that works.

Five years ago we said we were ready to bring the DA difference to Tshwane. And that convinced enough of you to go out and put your cross next to the DA for us to overtake the ANC here in the city and become the biggest party in the metro. That was an unbelievable result – something that would have been unheard of just a few years earlier.

But unfortunately our majority here was so slender and the financial mess we inherited so large that our coalition government was always going to be the target of a hostile take-over by an ANC that just cannot accept electoral defeat. And that eventually happened in March last year, when the council here was unlawfully dissolved and the City placed under provincial administration.

What followed was eight months of chaos in which service delivery was virtually collapsed and the city’s coffers bled dry once more. All our efforts to bring good, clean, stable governance to this metro were swiftly undone by these unelected administrators, and when the Supreme Court of Appeal finally threw them out in October of last year, we were back to square one and the City was broke again.

This was an incredibly frustrating chapter for the people of Tshwane and for the government tasked with fixing this mess.

But the good news is that the man next to me here, Mayor Randall Williams, is not the kind of guy to throw up his hands in frustration. He’s the kind of guy who rolls up his sleeves and gets on with it.

He may have inherited the most daunting of tasks here in Tshwane, but ten months into his term of office he has already made massive strides in turning this city around.

He has a vision for the metro that is big and bold – a vision that cannot be deterred by setbacks. He is convinced that Tshwane has already taken the first steps towards its recovery, and that big things await this city.

And that is why I am grateful that he is the man to spearhead our efforts to bring five more years of DA governance to this metro.

Mayor Randall Williams is undoubtedly the right man for the job.

But, democrats, there was a big lesson for us in this last election cycle. And that lesson has to do with what it takes to truly fulfil your vision as a government.

Yes, it takes the right people – committed, hard-working and fit-for-purpose.

Yes, it takes the right policies and the right approach to freeing up the economy to enable job creation.

Yes, it takes honesty and integrity, and a deep respect for public money and the rule of law.

And the DA has all those things by the bucketful. But what it also takes is a solid, uninterrupted  period of governance. A block of time in the driving seat where no one else is also pulling at the steering wheel or yanking up the brake.

And that is where we fell short here after 2016. We had our plans dashed by those who don’t share our vision for the city and who don’t share our respect for public money.

After a good start in 2016, all our work was halted and reversed when the metro went into administration, and Mayor Randall Williams had to start all over again in 2020.

And this didn’t only happen here in Tshwane. Just down the road in Johannesburg the precarious hold we had on our position in government there put us at the mercy of the EFF – a party that shares neither our vision for the city nor our values as a party.

Without a strong enough mandate we were put in a position where we were asked to compromise our principles and give into their demands in order to remain in government.

Down in Nelson Mandela Bay we suffered a similar fate. Holding the tiniest majority in the council, we were always going to be vulnerable to an attack from those ousted from government in the election.

And when this happened – when the coalition of corruption targeted one of our councillors and effected their council coup – the city of NMB was handed back to the very people who had previously looted it dry, and the metro’s recovery was set back two years again.

We know they will try to do so again – in NMB, in Johannesburg and right here in Tshwane. Our task is to fortify our position in government against such efforts to derail our project.

We need to secure a mandate that is strong enough to give us this uninterrupted time at the wheel. We need to convince enough voters to not only take their responsibility in this democracy seriously, but also to use their vote in a way that will make a realistic difference.

This means backing a party that not only has a proven track record of delivery, but also one that is big enough to take on and displace the ANC. Fragmenting the opposition by voting for dozens of smaller parties may be your democratic right, but all this does is strengthen the ANC’s position.

But not only that, it also strengthens the position of the EFF, who would love nothing more than to see their biggest competitor weakened by a splintered vote.

That is why our task in these elections over the next seven weeks – and particularly here in the closely-contested metros – is of such critical importance.

Not only must we spread the message that the DA – and only the DA – gets things done in government, we must also spread the message that our country’s only hope for a better future depends on voters uniting behind the DA.

And that is our project in a nutshell: to unite South Africans around a shared set of values and a shared vision of a South Africa that works.

We are the only party doing this, and the reason no one else is doing it is because it is hard.

In a country with our divided history, it is far easier to play on people’s fears and anger and frustrations. It is far easier to say to voters: You must choose us because we look like you, we speak like you and we care about the narrow set of things you might care about.

It’s far easier to play the politics of blame and scapegoating and to turn people against each other.

It’s far easier to make promises of free things that you know you’ll never have to honour.

That’s why so many parties do all of these things.

But it is much harder to say: Help us build a country for all, regardless of our race or language or religion. Help us put in the hard work to overcome obstacles and overcome our differences.

Over the course of the next two months, many parties will appeal to your sense of identity. They will try to split you off and say: You must vote for your kind.

But surely that cannot be the South Africa we want to build – a South Africa of division and mistrust. We want one united South Africa working towards the same prosperous, safe, inclusive future. And there’s only one party that can make that happen: the Democratic Alliance.

So I ask you: Make that your focus for the next seven weeks. Because if we want that future for our country, we have to start by building that future here in our cities and towns.

Spread the word that these local government elections are the best opportunity we’ll ever have to kick-start this process of change.

With the ANC in turmoil and missing from 93 municipalities in the elections, and with the rest of the parties either slow off the mark or rendered invisible over the past 18 months, the DA has the prime lane in this race.

Let us make it count.

But of course the first step in this race is making sure you are eligible to vote where you live. There are still millions of voters who have either not yet registered as this is their first election, or who are incorrectly registered because they may have moved since the last election.

It is critical that as many of these voters as possible get themselves registered correctly before the voter’s roll is closed after this coming registration weekend.

I know our DA staff have been working tirelessly for many months assisting voters to check their registration status and helping them to register, but the final push has to come from citizens themselves this weekend.

Don’t get caught out on election day. Don’t end up with voter’s remorse when it turns out you’re not on the roll in your ward. Spend a little time this weekend to ensure that you can exercise your democratic right on the 1st of November.

And then go out and use your vote in the best possible way.

You all know what happens in this beautiful city when the Jacaranda blooms turn the streets here into a spectacular show of violet.

Well that is what we need to replicate at the ballot box. We need to let a wave of blue wash over this city and usher in five years of DA excellence under Mayor Randall Williams.

Five uninterrupted years, where he and his government have the freedom to implement their vision and unlock the true potential of this incredible city.

Thank you.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.