A new government to rescue the Free State is within reach as ANC support crashes to 50%

12 Apr 2024 in News

by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a wonderful privilege for me to be here in the Free State today.

This is a province that can certainly lay claim to being the breadbasket of South Africa.

A province where people are closely connected to the beautiful landscapes around them.

The Free State also sits at the very heart of South Africa.

A province with unmatched potential to be the beating heart of a thriving agricultural sector, rich in minerals but also home to a strong manufacturing base.

With a relatively small population of just under three million people, the Free State has all the resources it needs to provide a dignified life for all of its residents.

That is, except for one critical resource.

You see, while the Free State has all the other elements it takes to become a prosperous place, it lacks the most important ingredient of all: a government that works for the people.

It is a heart-breaking reality that this beautiful province could also lay claim to being the worst-run region in the whole South Africa.

After all, in a region blessed with such enormous agricultural, mining and manufacturing potential, it takes a truly catastrophic government to still run it into the ground.

But that is exactly what a succession of ANC governments have done.

Despite all of its endowments, this province still has the third highest unemployment rate in the country.

On the expanded definition that includes people who have given up on ever finding work, 44 out of every 100 people cannot find a job.

For young people, that figure skyrockets to seven out of 10.

The ANC has reduced the people of the Free State to grinding poverty.

Out of a population of just under three million, there are only 231 000 registered taxpayers left.

Over 92% of the province’s residents are too poor to even be registered with SARS.

The unemployment and cost-of-living crisis in the Free State, which has made it impossible for many families to even put food on the table in this fertile province, is the direct result of decades of ANC corruption and misrule.

Due to the disgraceful conduct of the ANC, the Free State is now home to some of the worst municipal governments you will find anywhere in the democratic world.

The most recent report from Good Governance Africa has again ranked Mangaung as the worst-run city in South Africa.

This is the case even after countless interventions by the provincial and national government, which have all failed because both those other spheres of government are also run by the ANC.

And, across the length and breadth of the Free State, people’s taps are running dry and load shedding never ends as infrastructure collapses under the weight of ANC looting.

Harrismith was once the jewel of the Free State.

But the ANC has collapsed everything from refuse removal to the most basic infrastructure there.

According to the ANC’s own national department of water and sanitation, the Free State has the highest rate of water losses in the entire country.

A staggering 61% of water is lost between the time it moves from a bulk reservoir to the time it is supposed to arrive in your taps.

The water is there.

It is just lost and wasted because the ANC has stolen the money meant for maintaining the pipes and pumps that should get the water into your home.

The Free State does not have a water crisis.

It has an ANC governance and corruption crisis.

The Matjhabeng municipality owes Bloemwater and Eskom a total of R10 billion.

Despite constant power and water cuts, it still failed to spend over R191 million in grant funding meant to fix this mess.

Because the ANC simply does not care anymore.

The ANC has given up on the people of the Free State.

Maar die mense van die Vrystaat kry jy nie so maklik onder nie.

Even though the ANC has given up on the Free State, the people of this province have not given up.

Free Staters love this province, and this country, too much to just sit back and watch the ANC loot it into the ground.

In Clarens, residents took it upon themselves to tackle the scourge of load shedding.

Through the installation of small-scale embedded generation across the town, as well as a smart metering system which alerts residents when load-curtailment is required, Clarens has laid claim to the title of South Africa’s first loadshedding-free town.

Proving that Clarens is not only an art town, but also a smart town.

But the Free Staters in Clarens, like so many other towns in this province where people have stepped up to fix what is broken, achieved this in spite of the ANC.

They took ownership of their future and overcame a government that seems to do everything in its power to undermine and damage the Free State.

I want you to take a moment to imagine something with me today.

Imagine if the people of Clarens had a government that works with them, rather than against them.

Imagine if the people of Bloemfontein, had a government that was on their side, not on its own side.

Imagine if the people of Botshabelo, Sasolburg and Kroonstad had a government that wants to raise them up, rather than push them down.

That is what the DA offers the people of the Free State in this election.

A government that is on your side.

We know that the people of the Free State have what it takes to rescue this province.

We understand that what you need above all else, is a government that will be your partner in the mission to rescue this province.

In the quest to rescue the Free State, you will find no better partner than the Democratic Alliance.

Because the DA has a demonstrated track records of fixing what the ANC has broken.

Most recently, we did so in places like uMngeni in KwaZulu-Natal, the first municipality in that province with an outright DA majority.

Just like in the Free State, many people thought the DA would never govern in KwaZulu-Natal.

But, in 2021, the people of uMngeni proved them wrong.

And, within only 11 months, we wiped out the debt in uMngeni and turned it into a surplus, because, unlike the ANC, the DA does not steal your tax money.

As a result, service delivery is now being rolled out across the municipality to fix decades of neglect by the ANC.

We can do exactly the same thing in the Free State.

Because we have done it in so many other places.

The DA first rescued Cape Town from the ANC in 2006.

As a result, while the Free State province is home to the worst-run city in the whole country, DA-led Cape Town is the best-run city in the country.

While the Free State may be the worst-run province in South Africa, the DA-led Western Cape is the best-run province in South Africa.

Time and again, from Kouga in the Eastern Cape to Midvaal in Gauteng, the DA has rescued towns and regions from the ANC when voters gave us a chance.

One of the reasons for this is that the DA sees active local communities as partners, rather than as threats.

We call it the whole-of-society approach, and with your support on 29 May, we can deliver it right here in the Free State.

In addition to bringing the DA’s proud track record of good, clean and accountable government to the Free State, I also want to make a specific pledge to the people of this beautiful province today.

If you help elect the DA into national government, we will build a pipeline of skills delivery from the province of the Western Cape, all the way to right here, in the Free State.

We will do this by using the system created by the Constitution for national government to intervene in municipalities that have collapsed.

For the past three decades, the ANC has used this system of placing municipalities and provinces under administration as part of its internal factional battles.

In contrast, the DA commits to using administration for its intended purpose, which is to fixed services that have collapsed.

With a DA Minister in charge of the Cooperative Governance portfolio, the DA will place the Free State’s broken municipalities under administration.

We will then second the very same officials who turned the Western Cape into a province of hope, to right here in the Free State.

The very same skilled professionals who ensured that the Western Cape gets clean audits and clean drinking water, will then be in charge of recuing your local services.

Just think about it.

Over the past five years, eight out of every 10 new jobs created in the whole South Africa, came from the one and only DA-led province.

If you elect the DA into government provincially and nationally, we can bring the exact same people who generated 300 000 new jobs in the Western Cape over the last five years, directly to the Free State to help rescue this province and unleash its enormous potential.

In this election, a vote for the DA is a vote for two million new jobs.

It is a vote to end the loadshedding and water-shedding crisis that is destroying the Free State.

It is a vote to halve the rate of violent crime.

It is a vote to crush corruption and cadre deployment and to lift six million people out of poverty.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let us be clear about one thing.

There is only one reason why the Free State is so far from fulfilling its true potential.

That reason is the African National Congress.

The ANC is a party of manipulators.

If you don’t have a job, they try to manipulate you with a promise of a job that will never come.

If you want to access education, they manipulate you with promises about NSFAS that they never deliver.

If you are thirsty, they manipulate you with promises of water that will never flow.

It is time to get rid of the ANC manipulators once and for all.

And let me tell you, it is possible, not only nationally, but also right here in the Free State.

Over the past week, we saw the latest independent poll from the Social Research Foundation, confirming that the ANC has crashed to only 37% nationally.

In the same poll, the DA is at 25% and growing, with the Multi-Party Charter on its way to becoming the biggest organised political bloc in the country.

However, as the election approaches, most of the focus is falling on the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

But people are massively underestimating the Free State.

That is why I would like to share some breaking news with you today.

According to the DA’s latest internal polling, support for the ANC in this province has crashed from 61% in 2019 to exactly 50% today.

At the same time, support for the DA is up from 17% to 25%, which would be by far the highest level of support we have ever garnered here.

This means that, on its own, the DA has already reached the halfway mark of the total support the Multi-Party Charter needs to form a new government to rescue the Free State.

Together with our other partners in the Charter, we have never been closer to not only unseating the ANC, but also to inaugurating a new government for the Free State.

So let them continue to underestimate this province.

The Free State may well deliver the biggest surprise of all on Election Day.

To the people of the Free State, I say.

If you want a big, strong party with a proven track record of delivery and job creation to anchor a new government to rescue the Free State, vote DA.

If you want that same strong anchor party at the heart of a new national government to rescue South Africa, vote DA.

And if you want to get rid of the ANC and keep the EFF out of government, vote DA.

In this election, there is too much at stake to stay home.

Thank you.