The DA enters National Cabinet

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
01 Jul 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, during a live address to the Nation this morning.

My fellow South Africans,

Just more than two weeks ago, I announced that the Democratic Alliance had negotiated an agreement to enter national government.

In terms of that agreement, we helped to elect Mr Cyril Ramaphosa as President, Ms Thoko Didiza as Speaker of the National Assembly, and the DA’s Dr Annelie Lotriet as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

In the days that followed that first sitting of Parliament, a series of robust negotiations took place towards the formation of a new national executive.

These negotiations took place in terms of the signed Statement of Intent for the Government of National Unity, which required the President to appoint the new Cabinet in consultation with the leaders of other signatory parties.

Yesterday evening, President Ramaphosa announced the new national Cabinet, after him and I reached an agreement that was subsequently ratified by the DA’s Federal Executive, on the configuration of the DA’s participation in the executive.

The appointment of Cabinet and the agreement between the two biggest parties inside the Government of National Unity paves way for us to now start delivering for the people of South Africa.

As announced by the President, the DA has taken up the following portfolios in Cabinet: Agriculture, Basic Education, Public Works and Infrastructure, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Home Affairs, as well Communications and Digital Technologies.

The DA has further assumed Deputy Minister posts in the portfolios of Finance, Trade, Industry and Competition, Higher Education, Energy and Electricity, Water and Sanitation, as well as Small Business Development.

The configuration we have managed to negotiate ensures that, alongside the ANC, the DA is the only other party that is now represented across every one of the clusters in government.

This means that, for the first time ever, the voices of DA voters will be heard in every sector and in every room where decisions are made about our country’s future.

In the economics cluster, the DA will use our influential Cabinet seats in Agriculture, Public Works and Infrastructure, the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as our Deputy Minister roles in Finance, Trade and Industry, and Small Business Development, to pursue rapid growth and job creation.

On the governance front, the DA will build on our experience in improving service delivery to reform and enhance the vital frontline portfolio of Home Affairs.

We will use our representation as Minister of Basic Education, as well as our Deputy Minister of Higher Education, to focus like a laser beam on improving the quality of education our children and students receive.

And our representation in the Communication portfolio, alongside the Deputy positions in Water and Sanitation as well as Energy and Electricity, enables the DA to contribute to the improvement of these critical services.

The sheer weight and spread of these twelve portfolios amount to a recognition that the DA has a meaningful and vital role to play in the reconstruction of our country.

The DA was never in this for positions for their own sake, which is why we refused to accept watered-down compromises, and why we drove a hard bargain at times to ensure that the portfolios we get are of real substance.

We are also pleased that the negotiations reaffirmed the agreed-upon mechanism to break deadlocks on policy matters, that any suspicious tenders issued in departments now under DA control will be swiftly investigated, and that senior civil service appointments will not be obstructed or politicised.

Throughout this process, the DA has pursued a clear strategic objective, built on two inter-linked aims.

Our dual objective was to ensure that we secured meaningful influence in government, while delivering on our election pledge to rescue South Africa from parties that seek to tear up our country’s Constitution.

When the DA said we would rescue South Africa from the Doomsday scenario, we meant it.

And with yesterday’s formation of the new Cabinet, DA voters can rest assured that we have kept our word and delivered on both elements of our strategic objective.

I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the DA’s team of expert negotiators, who have done their country proud with the work they have done.

With the Cabinet now in place, the DA is ready to get to work on what matters most: serving the people of South Africa.

Our commitment is to painstakingly rebuild the government institutions now under our custodianship, with the aim of translating our demonstrated track record of good governance and quality service delivery at municipal and provincial government, into national government.

We will do so because our mission core in the Government of National Unity is to serve, uplift and deliver dignity to all the people of our country.

I have already told the DA members in Cabinet and Deputy posts that they carry an enormous responsibility on their shoulders.

The DA’s transformation into a party of national government that we have now embarked upon, is built on decades of hard work by the brave men and women who came before us.

Most importantly, the responsibility these individuals bear reflects the will of the people, who voted for the DA in 2024 to rescue South Africa.

This is the mission the people entrusted us with, and it is the mission we must execute to the very best of our abilities.

My fellow citizens,

Politicians and political parties did not create this Government of National Unity.

It is the people of South Africa who created it, when they voted to take away the ANC’s outright majority while growing the DA’s position as the second biggest party in the country.

But it is now also up to all of us – including the voters who created this multiparty government – to ensure that it delivers on its promise.

Throughout the election campaign, as well as during the negotiations that followed, I made it clear that the DA is guided by the pledges we made in our election manifesto.

These include the urgent need to grow the economy and create jobs, to bring an end to the energy crisis, to combat corruption and maladministration, and to improve the quality of services like education.

As the DA now takes up our rightful place at the Cabinet table, these same priorities will continue to guide the work we do.

But we must not kid ourselves that any of this will be easy.

And we must not get carried away by the significance of the moment.

The truth is that the road ahead will be a difficult one.

South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world, one of the highest crime rates in the world, logistics and infrastructure is in an advanced state of decline, and corruption is endemic.

None of us should expect these problems to be resolved overnight.

And none of us should expect these entrenched problems to be solved by politicians alone.

That is why I am today issuing a clarion call to the people of South Africa.

We need your help to get our country moving in the right direction again.

While the historic events of the past month have challenged political leaders who respect the Constitution to step up like never before, this challenge must also be met by the rest of society.

Now is the time for every one of us to answer the call of South Africa.

Whether you are a businessperson, a civil society activist, a union leader, a neighbourhood watch member, or simply a citizen with skills or time to contribute, now is the time to reach out to your elected representatives to help us build our country.

Where the DA is in government, you will be welcomed with an open door and an open hand.

Because we know that the time for confrontation, is over.

The time for collaboration, has arrived.

But this collaboration is not only between political leaders.

Collaboration is now also required between the Government of National Unity, and the people who voted to create it.

As we all embark on this new journey into uncharted territory, it is worth reflecting on the key lesson we have all learnt over the past month.

That, if you want to go fast, go alone.

But if you want to go far, go together.

And so it must be if we are to rescue our beautiful country.

All of us must now go, together, so that South Africa can go far.

Thank you.