The DA will place Mangaung under administration to rescue it from ANC misrule

23 Apr 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered this evening by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, during the party’s Rescue South Africa Tour in Mangaung, Free State.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is wonderful to be back in the City of Roses today, where the ANC has been a thorn in the side of residents for far too long.

It is especially fun to be here the day after the University of the Free State won the Varsity Cup last night for only the second time, after nearly a decade-long process of building up to this victory.

Congratulations to the Shimlas.

En Haak, Vrystaat!

On a serious note: there’s an important lesson for Mangaung and for the whole province in the way the UFS won this victory over its more-favoured rivals.

The lesson is that once the people of this province put their minds to achieving something, they can beat all the odds.

And let’s be honest.

After thirty years of ANC manipulation and corruption, the odds are stacked against the people of this beautiful province.

Perhaps more than any other place in South Africa, the Free State has suffered under ANC misrule.

It has a strong claim to being the most mismanaged province in the country.

Similarly, Good Governance Africa recently confirmed that Mangaung is the worst-run metro in the entire country.

This is despite the fact that Bloemfontein sits right as the beating heart of our nation.

It is the crossroads of South Africa, and the judicial capital of our country.

The people of Mangaung deserve so much better than the misery that the ANC has subjected them to.

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.

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 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.

Instead of being known as the proud seat of our judiciary, as a place of learning, education and cultural wealth and as the breadbasket of South Africa, Bloemfontein has become South Africa’s capital of corruption, unemployment, dysfunctional local government, infrastructure collapse, and basic service delivery failure.

If you asked me to pick just one single place to demonstrates the urgent need to rescue our country before it is too late, I would choose Mangaung.

In this city, there is now more uncollected refuse on the sidewalks than roses.

The road network is in disarray, people’s taps are running dry, and load shedding never ends for many people, as infrastructure collapses under the weight of ANC looting and manipulation.

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 truth is that the ANC has given up on the people of Bloemfontein.

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.

Just like the Shimlas showed us last night.

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

That is why, when the ANC recently manipulated desperate people into illegally occupying land in this city, rich and poor residents alike came together to stand against the ANC councillors who incited the land grabs.

In Clarens, residents have taken 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.

But the proud achievements that so many Free Staters continue to make, happen in spite of the odds created by the manipulative ANC.

The fact that the people of this province continue to forge ahead despite the overwhelming odds, is a testament to their character.

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

Imagine if the people of Bloemfontein, and of the whole Free State, had a government that was actually on their side, not on its own side.

Imagine what this province could achieve with a government that is actually committed to rescuing the Free State from corruption, from water cuts, from failing infrastructure, and from unemployment.

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 know that it would be a mistake to write off the people of the Free State just because the odds are stacked against them.

But the DA also understands that, above all else, you deserve a new 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 right here.

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 Mangaung is now 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.

The DA and Free Staters have one crucial thing in common.

We both love to beat the odds.

One of the reasons that the DA has beaten the odds time and time again, is because we see 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 Mangaung.

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 Boemfontein.

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.

And let me make it crystal clear: the very first metro in the whole country that the DA will place under administration in order to rescue it from the corrupt ANC, is this City of Mangaung.

Once we have done so, the DA will second the very same officials who turned Cape Town into a city of hope, to right here in Bloemfontein.

The very same skilled professionals who ensured that Cape Town 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.

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, I say: let the ANC continue to underestimate this province.

But I also say: it is time to apply that famous Free State courage to the mission to rescue this province.

It is time to do what the people of this province do best: get up, confront the challenge head-on, and beat the odds.

If we do that, the Free State may well deliver the biggest surprise of all on Election Day.

I now invite the DA’s provincial leaders as well as our candidates for the 2024 election, to join me on stage.

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.

We can do it.

We must do it.

And, together, we will do it.

Thank you.