This weekend, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council sat for the first time since the DA’s Federal Congress in May. The Federal Council is the highest decision-making structure and policy-making and governing body of the DA between Federal Congresses. It meets three times a year.
Since the Federal Congress in May, we have held in excess of 1000 events in communities in all provinces across the country and have interacted with hundreds of thousands of South Africans who share our dream of a South Africa built on the values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity. Market research shows that our party is growing and has great momentum ahead of the local government elections next year.
South Africa is at a critical juncture in its history. Our economy is in crisis and is not creating the jobs required to address inequality, pull many South Africans out of poverty and move our country forward. Accordingly, Federal Council resolved this weekend that in order to move forward as a country and realise our great potential, South Africa needs to deal with its biggest problem: unemployment.
66% of South Africans are either without employment or have given up seeking work. Of this group, two thirds are young South Africans. If we don’t address this problem with the urgency and innovation that is required, we will burden our children and future generations with undue hardship and lack of opportunities.
Dealing with the unemployment problem effectively will require the requisite political will and leadership that is sorely lacking in the current government.
The DA does not share the views of some who say that South Africa is becoming a failed state. But we do not have the luxury of time to get things right and fix our economy so that it creates the jobs required.
South Africa requires a government that is committed to building a better future for all South Africans. And only the DA can form such a government.
In view of this, Federal Council resolved that the DA must focus with laser-like intensity on forming the centre of a new political movement that can take control of the Union Buildings in 2019.
There has been unprecedented momentum following the launch of the DA’s Vision 2029 which paints a picture of what South Africa will be like 10 years after the DA forms a national government after Election 2019.
In the municipalities and province we currently govern, DA-led governments are already realizing Vision 2029 and providing a template of what government can become in South Africa. It is a fact that unemployment is at its lowest in DA governments.
Next year, the local government elections will provide a great opportunity for citizens to bring the DA difference to many more municipalities. In metros such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and the City of Johannesburg, current market research shows that change is on the horizon.
Federal Council resolved this weekend that the short-term focus of the party must be on achieving the best possible result in Election 2016. That will include intensifying the Vision 2029 campaign and ensuring that we maximise the registration of all DA supporters.
A key part of the intensification of the Vision 2029 campaign will be unpacking our policy offer in coming months. This will start with a comprehensive briefing on our policy on growth and jobs next week. We will unpack policy that includes:
Our approach to fixing education and making our youth employable.
A focus on vocational training and internships and apprenticeships.
Reducing the barriers of entry into the economy and making it easier to start businesses. We need to become a nation of employers rather than a nation of employees.
The establishment of a National Venture Capital Fund to assist start-ups to find funding.
Investment in key economic infrastructure such as the ICT and energy sector.
Federal Council reiterated that energy security is a critical objective for our economy. Instead of investing in a trillion rand nuclear deal that we cannot afford, we need to ramp up investment in renewable energy projects and break Eskom’s monopoly over electricity generation and supply.
The nuclear build procurement deal currently being pursued in great secrecy has the potential of crippling South Africa. We cannot wait over ten years for delivery on a project that at face value seems to have the familiar scent of corruption around it. And also seems to design to further enrich the ruling clique of the ANC led by its President.
Federal Council has accordingly mandated me to get to the bottom of what may have already transpired and do whatever we can to block what could be a debilitating and potential bankrupting deal for our country.
Corruption and state capture of our institutions is one of the single biggest impediments to South Africa making progress. Accordingly, the DA will not relent in our mission to uphold the Public Protector’s report into Nkandla. Nkandla is symbolic of the corruption that has plagued all levels of government. And the President must pay back a reasonable portion of the money spent on upgrading is private residence.
The corruption that holds back our country’s people stems from the top. President Zuma must be held accountable for this. And we will continue our fight to ensure that the decision to set aside the decision to prosecute the President be rescinded and charges reinstated.
We will also continue our mission to protect and safeguard South Africa’s institutions, most particularly the judiciary. You cannot have a government that ignores its own laws, the Constitution and its courts, as happened in the recent escape by President Al-Bashir. We will be announcing measures in Parliament this week to ensure respect for our critical institutions.
Federal Council also resolved to support the DA’s Parliamentary Caucus’s intention to move for a compensation fund to be created for the families of the victims of the Marikana massacre. The DA will pursue this with vigour when Parliament reconvenes for its third term.
Despite our numerous problems, South Africa has the people to make this country great. What we need is a government that unleashes the potential of our people so that we can build a better future and make this country a dynamic, innovative beacon of hope for the developing world.
That government is a DA government. And change is coming to South Africa. Change that will start in next year’s municipal elections.
Federal Leader of the Democratic Alliance | Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance