The following speech was delivered today in Gqanqu Village in the Umzimvubu Municipality by the DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen MP. Please find an attached soundbite by John Steenhuisen MP
My fellow South Africans,
It is good to be here in the beautiful Umzimvubu Municipality in the Alfred Nzo District of the Eastern Cape. Thank you for the warm welcome. Thank you to those who have come here from other wards.
Even though the Eastern Cape is still strongly ANC, 39% of the people in this ward voted for the DA in 2021. Our ward candidate Lungelani Mrhamba did an incredible job of spreading the DA’s message that we get things done.
We have come here on Freedom Day to thank you for making this brave and smart choice. It is smart to know that living in a deep rural area does not mean you have to accept a lifetime of poverty. It is smart to know you can do better and it is brave to act on that knowledge.
We have come here to assure you that the DA is committed to ending poverty and creating jobs. We are committed to real freedom.
Today is Freedom Day, when South Africa celebrates the anniversary of our first non-racial election on 27 April 1994. On that extraordinary day, the dream of political freedom for all became a reality.
On that day, our nation was filled with the hope and expectation of a better life for all.
But twenty-eight years on, there is growing poverty, joblessness and chaos caused by the ANC government. Over 30 million South Africans are trapped in deep poverty.
Unemployment is at a record high. Things are getting worse and worse every year.
Twenty-eight years on, we know now that political freedom does not automatically bring real freedom.
Real freedom comes from jobs, clean water, electricity, good roads, solid houses, good clinics and good schools. Freedom without these real things is not the real freedom people dreamt of. It’s not freedom people can use.
Here in this forgotten area of the Eastern Cape, real freedom is nowhere to be seen.
People here are still living in deep poverty. You still drink water with animals – especially in ward 12. In ward 11, the taps run dry most of the year. There are still areas where there is no electricity at all. Where you use pit toilets. Where your children attend crumbling schools built of mud, where it must be very difficult to learn anything. Where clinics have no access to water.
Almost everyone here is dependent on social grants. Everyone here knows that social grants are buying less and less each year. That the cost of vegetable oil and sugar and chicken and vegetables and electricity is going up much faster than social grants. Meaning there is less and less food on the table.
Everyone knows that the cost of petrol is going up, so it costs more and more just to go and get your social grant, on roads that are falling apart. When it rains, you can’t go to town to get your grant or shop or go to the clinic. Kids can’t get to school.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
And if the DA gets into government, it won’t be, because we are committed to ending poverty and creating jobs.
Since we’ve been in opposition here our DA councillors have worked hard to ensure you have access to things that bring real freedom and dignity and human rights.
DA Councillor Fuzile Sontsi has worked hard to get roads fixed.
DA Member of Parliament Baxolile Nodada has fought hard to get electricity for the section of ward 12 that never had it.
We fought hard to get Lutateni Senior Secondary School renovated and mobile classrooms delivered.
Cllr Nozi Mantshongo fought to get the Tebetebe bridge in ward 6 fixed and now it is part of the Welisizwe project.
We are currently working with Sicas-SA to sponsor a borehole for the people of Encuteni so that you don’t have to endanger yourselves getting water from the well on the mountain slope.
This is how the DA will end poverty and create jobs. We will make sure that public money is spent on the public, to deliver real things that people need for real freedom.
These are also the things that businesses need. When there is water and electricity and good roads and good schools and clinics, people can start and run businesses, which creates jobs.
This is how South Africans can achieve real freedom and dignity. There are no short cuts and there is no other way.
I am here today to assure you that the DA is committed to spending public money on the public. That is why you never hear about DA corruption. Only ANC corruption.
We are committed to paying social grants and to protecting the value of social grants, by ensuring that electricity and fuel prices – and therefore food prices too – do not go up faster than social grants.
The ANC likes to tell people that the DA will take grants away. I am here to tell you myself that the DA will not take grants away. On the contrary, by managing public money carefully and honestly, we will protect government’s ability to keep paying grants in the future, and we will protect the buying power of those grants.
Where the DA governs, we follow fair processes for EPWP and housing allocations. Where we govern, you never hear about sex or cash for EPWP jobs, or about only friends of ANC councillors getting houses. That’s because it doesn’t happen where the DA governs.
Where the DA governs, people have access to clean water, electricity, good roads, schools and clinics. More people have access to jobs because more businesses start and grow. Because the DA gets things done.
Last year, the DA needed less than 180 more votes to win this ward. In 2024, you have another chance to choose the DA and start bringing real freedom to this area.
After 28 years, more and more South Africans are realising that the ANC cannot and will not deliver real freedom. That’s why the ANC is coming to an end. They won’t be in national government after 2024.
On Freedom Day, we are reminded that many people struggled and suffered greatly for real freedom. They won us the right to vote. We owe it to them to use this precious right to achieve real freedom. In 2024, a vote for the DA will be a vote to end poverty and create jobs. That’s what real freedom is all about.