Re-election victory speech by DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen

02 Apr 2023 in News

The DA’s Moonshot Pact must stop ANC-EFF Doomsday

Democrats, friends and fellow South Africans,

I am humbled to stand before you today to answer the call you have made loud and clear during this historic Congress.

And my answer is a resounding yes!

Yes! I will work with each and every one of you to lead the DA into national government in 2024!

I want to thank every DA delegate, public representative, activist, member and supporter who has placed such overwhelming trust in me to serve as Federal Leader for a second term.

I pledge to devote every fibre of my being to our shared destiny of boldly taking the DA into the future.

In this quest, I will be joined by the rest of the DA’s national leadership team that you have elected this weekend.

To our federal chairman, deputy chairs, federal council chairwoman and to her deputies: congratulations.

I look forward to working closely with all of you, as well as with our provincial, regional and local leadership teams, to take our party to even greater heights.

To every candidate who stood for election this weekend, I want to say: thank you for making our internal democracy stronger.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the people who often make the greatest sacrifices in the DA’s quest to save South Africa.

I am sure that every person in this room can attest that the DA would never have grown to become the party we know today without the unwavering support of each of our families.

To my family – my wife Terry and my three beautiful daughters – thank you for supporting and uplifting me along every step of this journey.

It is from your unending love that I find the courage to persevere even when times get tough.


Throughout this campaign, I have told you that 2024 is going to be the DA’s Moonshot Election.

While the term “Moonshot” originally meant “long shot,” it’s increasingly being used to describe a monumental effort and a lofty goal – in other words, a giant leap forward.

A leap like ensuring that the DA leads national government in 2024.

And, like the original mission to take humans to the moon, we take this shot to defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Since 2019, we have worked on the first phase of that project. This phase was all about stabilising and fixing the DA so that we could get back to winning ways, on our way to taking the Moonshot.

It was about rebuilding internal cohesion, discipline, systems and policy.

As we look back to 2019 today, I can confidently say that this phase was a success.

The DA that emerges from this Congress is more united and more confident about the party’s future than at any time I can remember.

We have, indeed, built a strong DA.

Yet as one phase of the journey to our 2024 Moonshot ends, so another begins.


This is the phase where we reposition our strong DA to build a better future for South Africa.

In this new phase, the DA and our country will face some of the greatest opportunities – but also some of the greatest risks – in our democratic history.

The realistic prospect of the ANC being dragged below 50% in next year’s national election presents a moment to radically reshape South Africa and our politics.

But it will be up to us to determine whether this will be for the better.

Or, whether the next era in our country’s history will be even worse than ANC domination.

While it feels to many of us like South Africa has hit rock bottom, there is one unfortunate truth in politics. And that is that things can always get worse.

There is one risk that, above all else, threatens the future of both my family, and yours.

That risk is the increasingly realistic prospect of an alliance between the ANC and the EFF taking power next year.

Given the fact that the ANC now officially co-governs with the EFF in parts of Gauteng, we need to start taking the threat of these parties ganging up to destroy our country in 2024 very, very seriously.

I want to be unequivocal about the DA’s view on this: the day that an ANC-EFF government takes over, it will be Doomsday for South Africa.

EFF Doomsday will make the collapse of Zimbabwe look like a dress-rehearsal, and will leave all South Africans destitute – black, coloured, white and Indian.

That is why, during the remaining months before next year’s election, the DA will make it our number one priority – and do absolutely everything in our power – to prevent an ANC-EFF Doomsday Coalition from taking power.

Over the past thirty years, the ANC has proven itself to be the opponent of progress in our country.

But make no mistake: the EFF is its enemy.

The EFF Doomsday Coalition will expropriate property without compensation and abolish private property rights.

The EFF Doomsday Coalition will nationalise and destroy foreign investment, businesses, banks and mines.

The EFF Doomsday Coalition will plunge this country into ethnic and racial conflict the likes of which it has never witnessed before.

The cold, hard truth is that the Doomsday Coalition between the ANC and EFF has already taken over Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, with the help of its little proxies.

Next year, it will be knocking on the doors of the Union Buildings, next door from here, in Pretoria.

This is a fact that should send shivers down the spines of every patriot and freedom loving person in this country.

But fortunately, there is one – and only one – insurance policy against the ANC-EFF Doomsday Coalition. And that is to vote for the Democratic Alliance.

Because the DA is the only party that is big enough, and strong enough, to stop Julius Malema.

The DA is the only party with the size, the resources and the track record to oppose and defeat the Doomsday Coalition.

For proof, look no further than the action we took against the chaos that the EFF planned to unleash during its so-called National Shutdown.

The DA took decisive legal steps and mobilised our thousands of branches all across this country to stop the EFF dead in their tracks.

Today, I publicly declare Julius Malema’s EFF to be political enemy number one of the Democratic Alliance. And I commit the DA to fight back against the EFF at every turn, with the ultimate aim of defeating the Doomsday Coalition that could seal South Africa’s fate next year.

This is no longer about politics.

It is about the survival of democracy, and the survival of South Africa.

Throughout the period of this leadership campaign, I have reflected deeply upon the risk of the EFF coming to power, and the demands that this places upon the DA.

I approached this question in my capacity as Leader of the Democratic Alliance, carefully considering what we need to do to maximise our party’s support in next year’s election.

But I also approached it in another way. In a way that is demanded of me by our country’s Constitution.

In clause 57, our Constitution recognises – and I quote – “the leader of the largest opposition party in [Parliament] as the Leader of the Opposition.”

It is a clause that may not be known by many people, but it is one that has profound implications for the Moonshot we are about to take to defeat the prospect of an ANC-EFF coalition.

As the person duly elected to lead not only the DA but to also serve as the constitutionally-recognised Leader of the Opposition, I had to consider the way forward not only for our party, but also for the broader opposition cause.

And I have come to the conclusion, fellow Democrats and fellow citizens, that the DA has now arrived at our clause 57 moment.

This is the moment when we fully embrace clause 57 of our Constitution to acknowledge that the DA is no longer just another political party.

For the truth is that South Africans no longer expect the DA to be an opposition party, let alone just one party among many.

South Africans now expect us to step up and become the leader of the alternative government.

What they want, above all else, is for the DA to unite all the forces in this country that stand opposed to the ANC and the EFF.

What they want, is for the DA to lead.

And lead is what we shall do.

I ask you to simply look to the ANC for an example of what happens when a leader lacks the courage to put South Africa ahead of narrow political interests.

Cyril Ramaphosa constantly puts the ANC ahead of South Africa. He even openly admits that he would – and I quote – “rather be seen as a weak President, than to divide the ANC.”

It is because of this mindset that our nation is rotten with cadre deployment, infected with corruption, and dying from maladministration.

And it is because of this mindset that the ANC has embraced the EFF as a coalition partner in Gauteng.

Because, for the ANC, politics has become more important than the people.

But I’m proud to say that the DA is different.

We recognise that if we are to achieve our Moonshot to remove the ANC from power and keep the EFF out, we will need to think and act in bold new ways.

We recognise that one simply cannot achieve something that has never been done before by acting the same way you’ve always acted before.

Above all, we recognise that now is the time for the DA to become the leader of the alternative that will change our country for the better, as clause 57 demands.

In the interests of doing what Cyril Ramaphosa cannot, of rising above petty partisan politics, of putting South Africa first and of keeping the ANC-EFF Doomsday Coalition out, I can today make the following announcement.

In my capacity as leader, not only of the DA but of the opposition alternative in this country, our party will immediately initiate a process to form a pre-election Moonshot Pact with likeminded political parties, civil society organisations and civic movements to defeat the ANC, to keep the EFF out, and to inaugurate a new national opposition coalition government.

This invitation is broad and generously open to the leaders of all civil society bodies and opposition parties that are, as a matter of principle, opposed to the ANC and the EFF.

But it excludes all parties and organisations who’ve tethered themselves to the ANC.

The purpose of this Pact will be to forge coordination and unity of purpose between all organisations that want to defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out. To achieve the Moonshot, we need a whole-of-society approach that builds a new ecosystem of change.

The Pact’s purpose will also be to sit around the table to agree on rules of engagement that will enable different organisations to retain their own identities while bringing an end to the petty squabbles and division that only benefits the ANC.

Furthermore, when I say we must work together to decisively defeat the ANC, I do so deliberately.

It will not be enough to save South Africa if we drag the ANC to just below 50%, as that will still leave them with too many avenues to stay in power, including through a Doomsday Coalition with the EFF.

But let me be clear: it will also not be enough to form an impotent, unstable minority coalition.

Our experience in places like Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni teaches us that minority coalitions that cannot reach 51% are inherently unstable.

The DA has no interest in destabilising South Africa through an unworkable minority coalition.

What this means is that the Moonshot Pact must work together to reach the mark of 51%, so that we can defeat the ANC and its proxies, and keep the EFF out.

It is in pursuit of this goal that the DA takes the bold and unprecedented step to lead a united opposition Moonshot Pact.

As the name suggests, we are well aware that this an ambitious goal. But it is nonetheless a goal worth pursuing.

Because in the DA, we are patriots who love South Africa above all else, and because we realise that the mission to save our country from the ANC and its Doomsday Coalition with the EFF, is urgent.

South Africa simply does not have another five years to watch opposition parties squabble amongst themselves about whose bucket of water is colder, while the house is on fire.

Now, I realise that this is a significant moment.

I therefore want to briefly address, in turn, the leaders of other opposition parties, the members of Congress gathered here today, and most importantly, the people of South Africa.

To the leaders of likeminded opposition parties, I say: it’s a time for a reset.

So, keep an eye on your inboxes.

You will soon receive a letter from my office asking whether you are prepared to join the process of forming the Moonshot Pact.

In all sincerity and with all candour I say to you: we can continue doing our own thing separately and see where the chips fall after voting day in 2024.

But hope is not a strategy.

And, in the past, it has been precisely the lack of opposition unity and its infirmity of strategy and tactics, which has allowed the ANC to divide us and rule over us with the ruin now in plain sight for all to see.

Or, we, along with civil society leaders and concerned patriots who don’t wish to walk one more miserable inch on the road to ruin charted by the ANC, can choose another path.

Let us meet soon at a National Convention for the Moonshot Pact at a time and place where all historic enmity is left outside the door of the venue.

I make this proposal to you as the newly re-elected leader of my party.

If we are to make the Moonshot Pact work, it must be an initiative that is actually led by the leaders of all partner parties.

We have learned from hard experience that agents or entourages sometimes push agendas that are at odds with the vision of the leader, so this formation must be strictly a leaders-only initiative.

A secretariat will be provided, but all of the negotiations and discussions must be handled by party leaders themselves.

There can be no job more important for any opposition leader in South Africa at this time, than the mission of the Moonshot Pact.

Let our meeting reach common cause on how we can answer the most difficult yet most essential question of all: how can the opposition forces and their leaders ensure that the mightiest possible offer is placed before voters next year to change the face of our government, and the fate of our country?

That, surely, is a question worth answering, a challenge worth facing, and an alternative worth creating.Each party that signs up to the Pact should be guided by one central question only: what are we doing to grow the non-EFF opposition vote from the 32% that pertained in 2019, to the 51% we need in 2024?

Next, to my own party, I want to say that we should all understand that there are two complimentary – not contradictory – issues at play here.

As DA Leader, I ask members of this Congress to go out there and win each and every vote that is available to our party. 

All available polling tells us that, on a good day, the DA is now only 12% behind the ANC.

We are consistently polling in the high 20s, and the ANC on some days drops below 40%.

I sincerely believe that we can close that 12% gap and overtake the ANC to become the single biggest political party in South Africa by the time the 2024 election rolls around.

We are, after all, already the single biggest party in urban South Africa.

This means that we govern a number of places, including the Western Cape province, with outright majorities.

And the fact is, where we have outright majorities, the DA has demonstrated that we govern better than any coalition has ever done.

Every objective metric attests to this basic fact.

The Western Cape has by far the lowest unemployment in South Africa.

It delivers better quality services to the poorest among us, including education and healthcare, than any other province.

In the DA-led Western Cape, roads are free from potholes, refuse is collected on time, water is safe to drink and always available, and over 1 100 law enforcement officers have been deployed to fight violent crime because the national police service cannot.

The Western Cape, as well as municipalities with outright DA majorities like Cape Town, are also going to be the first places in this country that end load-shedding.

And, Democrats, it is this message we must take to voters.

That voting DA is the best way to secure a better future for you and your family.

Don’t only tell them what they DA will do. Show them what we are already doing.

Show them that the DA cares.

Show them that the DA is the only party fighting to reduce the cost of living so that poor households can feed their families.

Show them that the DA that is leading the battle to end cadre deployment corruption and the obscene abuses of the Ministerial Handbook.

Show them that it is the DA that will protect social grants by getting our country on a sustainable

economic path. 

Show them that only the DA is fighting to keep the EFF out.

That way, voters don’t only have to believe what we say. All they have to do, is to believe their own eyes that, when people vote DA and give us outright majorities, life gets better.

So even as we work towards a national coalition government, we absolutely must retain our majority in the Western Cape, and ensure that we win more outright majorities wherever they are within reach – including in this great province of Gauteng!

But, as Leader of the Opposition, I also know that the DA needs coalitions for the time being if we want to take power at national level, as we must.

The truth is that we can only become the biggest political party in this country if all other non-EFF voters – including those who may not be DA voters – turn out on Election Day to drive down the ANC’s percentage.

Finally. I want to speak to the voters. I know that many of you remain sceptical of coalitions.

This is completely understandable, given the way in which fragmentation and side-switching by certain parties has undermined the stability of some of these governments.

It is precisely because we have learned some very hard lessons, that the DA is taking the lead to form a pre-election Moonshot Pact.

By getting different parties to make a public and transparent commitment to the Pact, and the values it will be built on, well in advance of next year’s election, we hope to provide greater certainty to opposition voters than was the case before the 2021 election.

It is also because we have learned from past experience that the DA recently introduced a raft of legislative changes, including a constitutional amendment, to stabilise coalition governments and make them work better.

But I do want to point out that there are inspiring examples of successful cooperation between parties that I hope will guide our Moonshot Pact.

The first comes from KwaZulu-Natal, where a pact between the DA and the IFP has seen us collectively take more wards off the ANC than ever before.

In some cases where it made sense, the DA abstained from particular by-elections and encouraged our voters to tactically support the IFP’s candidate. In other cases where the opposite made sense, the IFP has done the same for us.

The result of this mature cooperation is that the DA and IFP together are systematically becoming bigger than the sum of our parts in KwaZulu-Natal.

Another positive example comes from the Cederberg Municipality in the Western Cape, where the DA, the Freedom Front Plus and the local Cederberg Eerste community party have tactically cooperated to win enough by-elections to remove the ANC and its proxies from power in the entire municipality.

I want to sincerely thank everyone involved in these success stories for showing us what can be done when we work together towards the goal we all share: defeating the ANC and keeping the EFF out.

Finally, our sweet victory on Tuesday that saw Cilliers Brink take up his rightful position as mayor of Tshwane after the ANC and EFF tried every dirty trick in the book, has created an opportunity to show what we can do when we stand united.

I am convinced that, within the next year, this multiparty coalition will begin to turn around Tshwane so that voters will have a powerful case study showing that DA-led coalitions can work.

Democrats, patriots, and fellow South Africans,

This, then, is the DA’s vision for 2024.

To defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out.

It is a vision of a reinvigorated DA that closes the gap with the ANC as we grow our support to unprecedented levels.

It is also a vision of a DA that works closely and constructively with our partners in the Moonshot Pact to ensure that we collectively reach the 51% mark we need to form a government.

With the DA at its core, this is a government that will:

  • End load-shedding;
  • Bring unemployment below 20%;
  • Halve violent crime;
  • Defeat cadre deployment to build a capable state and improve education and healthcare; as well as
  • Devolve more powers over electricity generation, public transport and policing to capable provincial and local governments.

This vision is the first prize, both for the DA and for our struggling country.But putting South Africa first also means that we must be honest about the profound risks we face if the Doomsday Coalition comes to power.

And there is only one way to help the Moonshot Pact reach for the stars, while simultaneously guarding against the Doomsday Coalition destroying South Africa.

That way is to vote for the DA.

In 2024, a vote for the DA is not only a vote for a strong and stable party to anchor the Moonshot Pact.

It is simultaneously a vote to stop the EFF Doomsday from engulfing us all.

At this election, a vote for the DA will embody our shared hopes for the future, while also guarding against our greatest fears.

Fellow South Africans,

Our country has entered an era of profound uncertainty. There simply are no guarantees.

But this also means that the future is all to play for.

It will ultimately be up to the people of South Africa to decide whether our country goes down in flames under the ANC-EFF Doomsday Coalition, or whether the DA and our partners in the Moonshot Pact gives our country a shot at redemption.

To the 14 million registered voters who did not turn up to vote in 2021, and to the millions more who are not registered at all, I say to you: your country’s future is now in your hands.

If you say you are not interested in politics, I say to you that politics will be very interested in you,

and all you hold dear, if the EFF comes to power.

So let’s not wait until it is too late.

Let’s use our hard-earned democracy to save our beloved country while we still can.

If you are not registered to vote, please visit the IEC website today. It takes only a few minutes to register and make sure you can play your part next year to keep the EFF out and give hope a chance.

If you are already registered, I call on you to check that your details are correct and to make sure that you and your family turn up to vote DA on Election Day.

In 2024, the people of South Africa need to vote DA like their lives depend on it.

Democrats, we have built a stronger DA. This Congress has shown us that.

Now, let’s kickstart this Blue Machine to provide a better future for my family, for your family, and for every South African family.

We don’t have a moment to lose.

It is time to get out there, to hit the ground running, and to save our beautiful country!

South Africa is a wonderful place, and she’s worth the fighting for!

Thank you.