Help us protect our fragile democracy – Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says government is at war with itself, split between the looters and the defenders

Help us protect our fragile democracy

21 October 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On 3 August, millions of South Africans cast their votes for local governments in our towns and cities. But this was more than just a municipal election. This vote was also a referendum on Jacob Zuma and the ANC he leads. And the results proved, beyond any doubt, that South Africans have had enough and are willing to use the power of the vote to bring about change.

The DA now governs in four of South Africa’s eight metros, including the two crucial Gauteng metros of Johannesburg and Tshwane. Before these elections, just over 6 million people experienced some form of DA government. That has now almost trebled to over 16 million.

The DA now has a chance to show these South Africans what we can do in government. We are a national government-in-waiting, and millions of South Africans recognise this. They know that our success in the 2019 election is what will drag our country back from the precipice.

Under a DA government founded on the principles of Constitutionalism, a market economy and the Rule of Law, South Africa will once again become the beating heart of the African economy. We will focus on making this country investor-friendly, we will integrate better into Africa and we will recognise the entrepreneur as the key to creating jobs.

We will also restore South Africa’s standing in the global community. Under the DA, our foreign policy will be guided by two principles: human rights and economic trade. We will recognise our role in Africa as a defender of the basic human rights of all people, and we will make sure that the world knows we are open for business.

The DA’s brand is to govern well. We will respect public money and we will ensure that the state does its business out in the open. This will allow us to achieve our vision of a strong and prosperous South Africa. And when I say prosperous, I mean to grow an economy that includes all South Africans. Under the DA, poor South Africans will rise. 

But we have no time to lose in achieving this vision. Our government is at war with itself, split between the looters and the defenders. On the one side we have the beneficiaries of a network of patronage that extends all the way from Jacob Zuma at the top down to ward councillors in far-flung municipalities at the bottom. This faction knows where its bread is buttered and will do anything to preserve the status quo.

And on the other side you have those who want to shield our Treasury and the massive budgets of our state-owned enterprises from the looting. As it stands, the looters outnumber the defenders, and they use this majority to silence internal criticism. This means there is little hope of self-correction within the ANC.

This destructive internal battle within our government is playing out against the backdrop of a stagnant economy, extremely worrying levels of unemployment and growing dissatisfaction at the slow pace of service delivery and economic transformation.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we find ourselves at a critical juncture in our relatively young democracy. If we don’t right the ship very soon, then this combination of political infighting, rampant corruption and social unrest will take our country over the edge. This is not something the DA can fix alone. It will require contributions from business, civil society, religious bodies and NGO’s.

It will also require the support of our international friends.The global community has not only an obligation, but also a very real interest, in helping us protect South Africa’s democracy. What took place here in 1994 was a global achievement as much as it was a South African achievement.

The end of apartheid and our transition to a free and democratic society would not have happened the way it did if it hadn’t been for relentless international pressure. The South Africa you see today is the result of a global victory over injustice, and it must be defended globally.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We intend to replace this corrupt government in 2019. But in the mean time we still have a hugely important job to do as the official opposition in holding this government to account. It is our sworn duty in parliament to defend our democracy and our Constitution against abuses by the Executive. And so today I announced that the DA has tabled a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Under his leadership, our state has fallen into the hands of corrupt private interests. And on his instruction, virtually all our state institutions of security, law enforcement and prosecution have been mobilised to shield these interests from investigation. We would be failing in our duty if we let this continue unchallenged.

There has also been, in recent weeks, a move by members of the ANC to distance themselves from Jacob Zuma’s state capture project and his attack on the Finance Minister. Unfortunately this distancing is only happening through remarks in the media. It would seem that these members are simply trying to untether themselves from Jacob Zuma before he goes over the waterfall. 

If these ANC members truly believe that Jacob Zuma is damaging our country and threatening our stability through his actions, then we’d like to give them the opportunity to say so where it actually matters.

I thank you.

Issued by Mabine Seabe, Spokesperson to the DA Leader, 21 October 2016