Phuthaditjhaba is the Free State’s starting block for change

23 May 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered today by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, during a rally in Phuthaditjhaba, Qwa Qwa, Free State.

A voicenote from the Leader of the Democratic Alliance is attached here.

Fellow Democrats,

It is wonderful to be here in Phuthaditjhaba today.

The people of this area matter deeply to the Democratic Alliance.

Over the years, you have gotten to know the DA’s hard-working representatives, like Dr Roy Jankielsohn and Leona Kleynhans, as people who really fight for the residents of this area.

The truth is that it is the DA that has stepped up to serve Phuthaditjhaba because the ANC has given up on the people of the Free State.

The consequences of how the ANC has betrayed the people, are visible for us all to see.

This community where we are standing today, probably has the highest unemployment rate in the whole country.

Seven out of every ten people cannot find work.

Hundreds of factories in the industrial areas have closed down in recent years.

They didn’t close down because they wanted to.

They were forced out, and they were forced to lay people off, because the ANC made it impossible for them to function.

The collapse of all basic services, including water, electricity and roads, has made it impossible for businesses to succeed.

And it is the people of Phuthaditjhaba who are paying the price.

Every single one of the nine sewerage pumps here are broken.

That means that over 400 000 people have lost access to sanitation services.

The taps have run dry, because the ANC used cadre deployment to put their friends and comrades into highly-paid positions on the Maluti-a-Phofung water board.

Not to provide water to the people, but to steal from the people.

What was once a beautiful, peaceful part of the Free State, has become overrun by crime.

Women and children are no longer safe in their own streets, or in their own homes.

But, by far the most heart-breaking thing I experienced on my visit to you today, is the hunger.

Everywhere you look, our people are hungry.

Instead of using tax money to feed the people, we sit with a government that only feeds themselves while the people go hungry.

It is an unspeakable crime against the people of Phuthaditjhaba that there are babies dying here from hunger.

If we are looking for a sign that things cannot go on this way, it surely is the fact that we have grieving mothers here who have had to bury their own babies, because they cannot even afford to feed them.

But I am here today with an important message.

The message is simple, but it has the power to radically improve the lives of the people in this area.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I know that many of you feel hopeless today.

You feel angry and betrayed.

Some of you may even have given up on the idea that things can ever get better.

But things can get better.

All it will take to start turning things around for you and your family, is to take a leap of courage on the 29th of May by voting for the Democratic Alliance.

Because, for the ANC, the residents of Phuthaditjhaba are a forgotten people.

But not for the DA.

The DA sees you.

Myself, Dr Roy and Leona: we see you and we care about you.

We care about your ability to put food on the table for your families.

That is why a vote in for the DA in this election is a vote to create two million new jobs and to lift six million people out of poverty.

We care about bringing dignity back into people’s lives.

That is why a vote for the DA in this election is a vote to end the crippling electricity and water cuts in the Free State.

We care about making communities safer.

That is why a vote for the DA in this election is a vote to halve the rate of violent crime, including murder, attempted murder and gender-based violence.

We also care about your health and your children’s education.

That is why a vote for the DA in this election is a vote to end corruption, so that we can use the money that the ANC has stolen to build more and better schools and hospitals.

Now, I know there are lots of political parties running around making promises.

I think we are all tired now of hearing all these promises.

But the DA is different.

What makes the DA different is that we are the only party in the whole South Africa that has a proven track record of turning our promises into results.

Just look at what we have done in places like uMngeni in KwaZulu-Natal, in Midvaal in Gauteng, in Kouga in the Eastern Cape, and in the Western Cape.

Wherever people vote for the DA, life gets better.

We are not perfect, that’s for sure.

But where the DA governs instead of the ANC, there is clean drinking water, there is reliable electricity supply, there are good roads, and there is zero tolerance for corruption.

Most importantly, the Democratic Alliance is a job-creating machine.

Let me give you just one example.

Over the past five years, eight out of every ten new jobs created in the whole South Africa, came from places where the people have voted the DA into power.

In just one year alone, the one province governed by the DA created over 360 000 new jobs.

Just imagine what 360 000 new jobs would mean for the Free State and for your community.

Imagine how much better your life would be if you had a government that was on your side.

That spent money on the people, not on politicians.

Imagine the relief and the joy you would feel, if you never had to worry again about where your next meal would come from.

Imagine also how much easier life would become for people on grants, if the DA’s plan to increase the child support grant is implemented.

Don’t believe the lies: far from taking away grants, the DA will increase the child support grant from R510 per month to R760 per month.

The truth is that there is only one party in this election that will eventually take away social grants.

That party is the ANC.

Because they are so busy stealing the tax money that is supposed to fund grants, that the money will eventually run out.

They have stolen so much that the money has already run out for Eskom, for SAA and for basic services like water and roads.

If we don’t vote the ANC out on Wednesday, they will continue to steal until there is nothing left to fund social grants.

But the DA will not only protect social grants against corruption.

We know that, while grants are a life-saving necessity for millions of people, South Africans don’t want to spend their entire lives in unemployment.

People want jobs.

And that is exactly what you will get if you vote for the DA.

The DA is a job-creating machine.

We have the right policies, we have the people, we have the experience, and we have the track record that can give you confidence that only the DA can deliver the two million new jobs our country needs.


For many years, the ANC told the people of the Free State that they owned this area.

But I want you to look around today.

Look at the person next to you.

What you will see is a neighbour, a friend, and a fellow South African.

A person who, just like you, is ready for change.

A person who is fed up with the unemployment, the corruption, and the crime that they suffer under every single day.

What you will also see, is a courageous person who has decided to take their future into their own hands.

A person who is done waiting for the ANC to deliver on promises they never intended to keep.

Most importantly, all around you, you will see people who have decided to join the mission to rescue South Africa.

Because, just like you, every person in this hall today knows that there is only one party that can deliver on the promise of 1994.

There is only one party with a proven track record of good governance that creates jobs, and that party is the Democratic Alliance.

I say to you: the time for change has come.

And that change will not start in some fancy boardroom in Sandton.

That change will start right here in the streets of Phuthaditjhaba, where the people are going to rise up on Wednesday to vote the ANC out and vote the DA in.

The democracy that we all love does not belong to any political party.

It belongs to you and me – it belongs to the people.

And, on the 29th of May, we are going to use our democracy to rescue South Africa.

We are going to do it by voting for the DA, because we know that only a strong DA can rescue South Africa.

We can do it.

We must do it.

And, together, we will do it.

Thank you.