Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen, during a Live Address to the Nation on the historic multi-party National Convention this coming week.
My fellow South Africans,
On the second of April, I spoke to you from the floor of the DA’s Federal Congress in Midrand.
At the time, I outlined the DA’s vision to rescue our country at the 2024 election.
I said that 2024 is going to be South Africa’s Moonshot election.
Where we achieve a giant leap forward by removing the ANC from power and replacing it with a new Pact government composed of likeminded opposition parties.
Just as with the original Moonshot, when humans achieved the seemingly impossible by sending a man to the moon for the first time, there were a lot of naysayers.
They said that opposition parties are too egotistical to get around the same table.
They said that we would never be able to put aside petty politics in order to put South Africa first.
The naysayers were wrong.
This coming Wednesday and Thursday, the Pact will hold a historic National Convention in Kempton Park.
We will meet at the same venue where the CODESA negotiations successfully mapped a way forward for our country at a time of great crisis.
This week, we have an opportunity to do so once again.
To do what South Africans have always done best: get around the table, talk to each other, and rise above adversity.
The Convention will be independently chaired by the respected Professor William Gumede and his capable team, who have worked on projects like this in countries around the world.
One of the things Professor Gumede has already taught us, is that two of the most stable and rapidly developing countries in Africa – Mauritius and Cape Verde – have flourished under coalition governments.
Our aim is to add South Africa to that list after the 2024 election.
The National Convention, chaired and facilitated by respected experts, represents a major milestone for the Pact.
We have gotten to this point because, for the past three months, the leaders of the parties involved have met every single week to painstakingly cultivate the common ground required for a Convention.
We have indeed succeeded.
In a further sign of progress, I am also delighted that yet another political party, whose values align to ours, has joined the process.
This past week, the Independent South African National Civic Organisation (ISANCO) became the seventh party that will attend the Convention.
The DA regards ISANCO’s decision to join us as a major breakthrough.
This party was previously part of the ANC alliance.
They broke away from the alliance in 2021 because of the ANC’s failure to address the deep-rooted corruption that is tearing our country apart.
In the 2021 election, this newly-formed party won 14 council seats in former ANC strongholds.
With the addition of ISANCO, the Pact has added a party that shares our values and which has turned its back on the ANC.
This sends a clear message to voters disillusioned with the ANC: the Moonshot Pact is the alternative government you have been waiting for.
To former ANC voters who share our values and who are looking for a new political home, I say: Like ISANCO, your voice and your vote is welcome inside this Pact to rescue South Africa.
ISANCO’s inclusion makes it clear for all to see that the Moonshot is gaining momentum and systematically becoming greater than the sum of our parts.
My fellow citizens,
While the National Convention represents a major milestone, it is also an opportunity we dare not squander.
The Moonshot Pact has captured the public imagination like no other opposition project has ever done in the history of our democracy.
We dare not mess it up now.
That is why the DA is deeply committed to ensuring that the Pact emerges from the National Convention with a meaningful agreement on how we will work together to rescue South Africa.
I have said from the very start that this must not just be an anti-ANC project.
It must be a pro-South African project, that tables real solutions to the urgent problems our country faces.
The parties involved in this process have already made some progress towards a minimum joint programme of action.
From the DA’s side, I can assure the people of South Africa that we will continue to act at the Convention in the same good faith and spirit of cooperation that has gotten us this far.
It is my sincere hope that we will emerge from the Convention with a document that articulates our shared values and the minimum policies a Pact government would implement to fix the problems plaguing our country.
I ask that you – the people of South Africa – judge the Convention on the basis of the solutions it offers to you.
Our country desperately needs a new government that will put an end to the suffering faced by thousands of learners who still use pit toilets at schools.
It is time to end this disgraceful system, which recently claimed the life of four-year old Langalam Viki, who drowned in a pit toilet.
We need a new government that will alleviate the suffering of millions of South Africans who can no longer afford food.
Recently, we have seen horrifying cases like that of Bongeka Buso, a thirty-eight-year-old mother from Butterworth who killed her three children and commit suicide because they had no more food to eat.
We need a new government that cares about farmers and farm workers who face surging crime, and that cares about small towns have been broken down by an uncaring ANC government.
If the Pact emerges with a compelling vision to reduce unemployment, end load shedding, grow our economy and tackle violent crime, then I ask that you get behind us.
At the end of the day, this Pact is not for politicians.
The Pact must be owned by the people of South Africa.
It must be your Pact, my Pact, and our Pact to rescue the country we all love.
And the most important thing you can do to help, is to make sure that you are registered to vote in next year’s election.
It is an easy and simple online process that only takes a few minutes.
To start the process, simply visit: check.da.org.za.
Our commitment to making this a Pact for the people is also why we have already sent letters to 115 different civil society organisations, inviting them to provide inputs on how we can make a success out of the Convention.
If the political parties involved in the Convention emerge with an agreement on Thursday, we hope to engage civil society with the eye on holding a subsequent joint Summit between the Pact and civil society organisations.
I would like to reiterate what I said in my speech at Congress back in April:
“To achieve the Moonshot, we need a whole-of-society approach that builds a new ecosystem of change.”
Slowly but surely, we are building that new ecosystem that will sweep the ANC out of power.
My fellow South Africans,
This coming week is shaping up to be one of the most important in the history of opposition politics in our country.
Months of hard work between a group of passionate and committed political leaders have laid the foundation for a National Convention to take place.
This symbolises that we have successfully built and gotten our Rocketship onto the launchpad.
Now we must ensure that, on Wednesday and Thursday, we have a successful launch of our Moonshot mission to rescue South Africa.
The DA is irrevocably committed to this project.
And we will play our part at the Convention to ensure that the Pact emerges with an agreement that offers real hope and solutions to the many problems our country faces.
We have already made more progress on this project that many people predicted.
None of this would have been possible without the leaders of other parties.
I want to thank the IFP for the way in which they have led from the front on this project.
Mr Hlabisa has been a pillar of strength in our negotiations so far.
And it is thanks in no small part to the great leaders in the IFP that the Moonshot is already well on its way in KwaZulu-Natal.
Dr Pieter Groenewald has equally represented his party with aplomb, and I thank him for his earnest engagement during all our meetings.
The same goes for Mr Neil de Beer and Mr Christopher Claassen, who have brought fresh perspectives to the Pact that have undoubtedly put their relatively new parties on a pathway to success.
And to Dr Zukile Luyenge, I say thank you for your courage in showing South Africans how we can move away from ANC failure towards a better future.
The one thing we all share, is the knowledge that this Pact is our best chance ever to defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out of power.
It is a chance we dare not miss.
Any party that chooses pettiness over the people to undermine the Pact will be judged harshly in the light of history.
Now is the time for us all to stand together and rise to the occasion like never before.
This coming week, we must ensure a successful Convention that sends the Moonshot into space, well on its way to removing the ANC from power and inaugurating a new Pact government in 2024 that will rescue South Africa.
Be part of the mission to rescue South Africa, get help registering to vote at check.da.org.za