The following remarks were delivered by the DA Leader in Despatch, Nelson Mandela Bay. The Leader was joined by DA Mayoral Candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay, Athol Trollip.
My fellow South Africans,
I come to you today with good news and bad news. Let me start with the bad and get it out of the way.
The latest unemployment numbers for the second quarter of 2016 have just been released by the Statistician-General, and it paints a very grim picture for the future of our country.
Together with the zero percent growth predicted for our economy this year, today’s unemployment figures are just the wake-up call we need as we prepare to go to the polls on Wednesday.
Instead of bouncing back from a bad first quarter, our economy has lost another 129 000 jobs in the second quarter. That’s 129 000 breadwinners who are responsible for hundreds of thousands more people.
Even more sobering is a comparison with the unemployment numbers from this time last year. In the last 12 months, 502 000 South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Long-term unemployment – South Africans who have been without work for a year or longer – went up by 424 000 in the last year.
There are now 8.9 million South Africans who cannot find work today, and the bulk of these people are young South Africans.
In fact, while 129 000 jobs were lost in total in the last quarter, a staggering 142 000 jobs were lost in the 15-34 year-old category. In other words, whatever marginal gains were made in the older categories were completely wiped out by youth job losses.
Jacob Zuma’s ANC has failed these young people, and South Africa has run out of time to give his government another chance.
If we want to turn our economy around and save 8.9 million breadwinners and their dependents from a life of poverty, it is now or never.
And that brings me to the good news. On Wednesday we will all go to vote in the most important election in the 22-year history of our democracy.
Never before has there been so much on the line in an election, and never before has the ANC faced the prospect of losing on so many fronts.
We are about to make history. This election will determine the path we take as a nation. It will literally shape our future.
But if this election is important to all South Africans, it is twice as important to your generation.
You see, the future of this country belongs to you. Your generation has the most to lose, and you also have the most to gain from the choice we are about to make.
There is a massive responsibility on your shoulders to do what needs to be done to bring our country back on the right path.
For many of you, Wednesday’s election will be the first time you get to cast your vote. A million young South Africans have registered to vote for the first time in these elections.
And if we have learnt anything from young South Africans in the past year, it is that they will not be taken for granted.
They have sent the message to this ANC government, loud and clear, that they will not be satisfied with more of the same: more empty promises, more corruption and more failures.
These young people have taken to the streets. They have marched to Parliament. They have marched to the ANC’s offices. They have raised their voice against this government.
But on Wednesday, young South Africans will have the best possible opportunity to send this ANC government a message. Because when you use your vote to send a message, they cannot ignore you.
My fellow South Africans, these elections are all about young people like you.
The biggest threat to the future of our country is unemployment, and specifically youth unemployment. Two-thirds of unemployed South Africans are under 35 years old.
If we don’t reverse this trend fast, it will tear our nation apart. And if beating unemployment is not at the heart of a party’s offer to voters, then it cannot be the party to lead our country forward.
The ANC has no such plan. They’re just going around telling people to vote for them because they’re black, or to not vote DA because they’re black.
Instead of telling people how they will tackle the biggest threat to our country and your future, they’ve gone back to racially separating all of us, like the Apartheid government did.
That’s not the government we need in our country. And that’s not the type of government you need here in Nelson Mandela Bay.
This is one of the metros the ANC is on the verge of losing in these elections. They have lost the confidence of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, and their corrupt mayor, Danny Jordaan, has done nothing to restore that confidence.
The future of this metro now lies entirely in your hands. If enough of you go out to your voting stations on Wednesday and cast your votes for the DA, you will have made history here.
You will be able to look back one day and say: “That was me. I was part of the generation that brought change to Nelson Mandela Bay.” And that will be something to be proud of.
But it will take every single DA vote to do so. We are running neck and neck with the ANC, and they will throw everything they have into hanging on to Nelson Mandela Bay.
Let’s do it together for the people of Nelson Mandela Bay. Let’s to it together for young people like you across this metro, and across our country.
Let’s vote to end corruption here. Let’s vote to bring services to all the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.
But above all, let’s vote for jobs for the young people of Nelson Mandela Bay, and the young people of South Africa.
Source: Democratic Alliance.