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DA manifesto — party would like to swap BEE for UN sustainable goals

DA manifesto — party would like to swap BEE for UN sustainable goals
DA Leader John Steenhuisen at the party's manifesto launch at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 17 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu)

The DA says the country is in a state of collapse, and bills its manifesto as a rescue plan, emphasising streamlining and professionalism. But it raises eyebrows by stripping out any form of black empowerment, replacing it with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a target.

Grants and social support policy

  • Basic income, grants and social policy;
  • Increase child support grant from R510 to R760;
  • Extend the child support grant to pregnant mothers to support child nutrition;
  • Streamline disability grants;
  • Target vulnerable people during food price shocks;
  • Convert the Social Relief of Distress grant into a job seekers’ grant;
  • The DA claims the package can lift six million people out of poverty.

Climate change and the environment

  • A sturdy focus on renewable energy – manufacturing, easing high tariffs for imports (solar panels, etc);
  • Commit to net zero carbon emissions.

Crime and corruption

  • Decentralise policing to “capable” provincial and metro governments;
  • Reduce bloated SAPS senior management; lifestyle audits for cops; partnerships with private security;
  • Protect whistle-blowers;
  • Appoint a new police watchdog;
  • Implement public order policing recommendations of the inquiry into July 2021 violence;
  • Crack down on illegal guns while firmly supporting responsible gun ownership;
  • Introduce a “watching brief” for poorly prosecuted crimes such as gang violence, rape, farm murders and drunk driving;
  • Take a victim-centred approach;
  • Dissolve Hawks; start an anti-corruption Chapter 9 institution;
  • Disband the State Security Agency and start an intelligence agency afresh;
  • Focus on health corruption and create an independent watchdog.


  • Remove race as employment criterion; replace it with the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • No new taxes;
  • Stabilise debt, control spending and fix state-owned enterprises;
  • One-stop shops for small businesses.


  • Ensure that each child gets 210 teaching days a year;
  • Devote the first two hours to reading and writing;
  • Introduce literacy and numeracy tests at the end of foundation phase – to triple the number of Grade 4s who can read for meaning;
  • Promote science, tech, engineering and maths education, and strengthen the district model;
  • Establish school evaluation authorities in every province (based on the Western Cape model);
  • Tiered system of NSFAS bursaries – household income up to R180,000: full cost of study; income R180,000-R350,000: 66% bursary; income R350,000-R600,000: 33% bursary.


  • Expand zero-rated food to include bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee and soup powder.


  • Reduce the number of ministers, deputy ministers and ministerial offices;
  • Focus on infrastructure;
  • End water shedding; get private companies involved in water infrastructure projects;
  • Encourage water-sensitive cities and citizens – based on Cape Town’s experience and planning;
  • Create a grant for water infrastructure maintenance;
  • Abolish and outlaw cadre deployment;
  • Remove BBBEE from all state procurement.


  • Increase competition and lower private health costs;
  • Introduce social reinsurance for medical schemes;
  • Risk equalisation strategy for medical schemes – treat all plans as if they are one large fund;
  • Subsidise post-retirement medi­­cal aid;
  • Oppose the NHI Bill, seen as the death knell for the current private medical system;
  • Establish a private-public partnership model.


  • Deregulate the labour market to create jobs;
  • Make artisanship a category of skills development;
  • Exempt small and medium businesses from bargaining councils.


  • Protect property rights as enshrined in the Constitution, and expand land ownership;
  • Prioritise government-owned land for distribution to housing, farming and land access;
  • Post-settlement support for beneficiary farmers.


  • Break up Eskom’s monopoly, and move the utility away from energy generation;
  • Promote self-generation and devolve energy decisions to municipalities;
  • Allow homes and businesses to sell to the grid.

Civil service

  • Rebuild the Public Service Commission to make it independent;
  • Replace the Public Service Act and make public service functions separate from the state;
  • Make all appointments merit-based by removing politicians from each level of recruitment;
  • Regular lifestyle audits for politicians and officials;
  • Introduce mandatory entrance exams;
  • Provide high-quality training for public servants.

Reality check

  • Except for the racial blindness on BEE, it is an excellent manifesto. With South Africa’s history of colonialism and apartheid, and its racial inequality, the party risks its future if it removes black empowerment completely;
  • I found the manifesto’s proposals on lifting people out of poverty, on education, on professionalisation of the public service, and especially on crime and corruption, to be very good;
  • Helen Zille’s education expertise is clear in the manifesto, as is Glynnis Breytenbach’s steady hand on crime and corruption policymaking.

Cool things

  • The list of foodstuffs to be zero-rated for VAT is excellent, as is the DA’s promise to revisit the list regularly. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.


    Excellent manifesto. Actually more pro-poor than ANC. Blend between promoting growth, which will lift more people out of poverty and expanding social safety net for people stuck in poverty. But dont expect DM to focus on this, no they will latch on to BBE and their evident dislike for Steenhuisen. Trying to paint the DA as racist and only interested in minority interest. Which is clearly nit the case as this manifesto shows

    • Bob Dubery says:

      BEE is important. Any party in this country has to confront the colour issue. The DA’s problem, I think, is that they don’t think that colour SHOULDN’T matter, they think that it DOESN’T. Too many stats still show a clear correlation between colour and access to healthcare, access to schools, to career prospects, access to tertiary education, life expectancy, you name it. Colour still matters, even though we all agree that it should not.

      Now, the DA have stated a preference for “UN Sustainable Development Goals”. They need to explain what this is and how it is going to address the gaps I refer to above.

      • Ben Harper says:

        No, BEE is a racist policy that has destroyed our economy

      • Hidden Name says:

        You are quite wrong. What the stats show is the clear SOCIO ECONOMIC differences. Thats an important distinction. Regardless of skin colour you will have the same issues depending on your where you fall on that scale. Race doesnt even enter into it. The problem is one of numbers which makes a mess of everyone’s perceptions. They are completely correct in wanting to address the underlying cause instead of using false equivalences.

        • Bink Bin Oik says:

          This! I’m literally going to copy and paste this explanation to those who cry racism when some states BBEEE is not helpful. So spot on.
          Thank you!

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Our people, you should celebrate the removal of BEE.

        I know it seems scary but the removal will benefit every single one of us South Africans.

        It will mean South Africa has the best production possible, which will make the most jobs available, which will lead to incomes and housing and true improvement for all of us.

        It is time for us all to move beyond our destructive racial past and vote for our prosperous rainbow future.

      • Lyle Ferrett says:

        The problem with BEE is that it has created an anti-competitive climate in South Africa. It breeds entitlement and inefficiency. There should’ve been a sunset clause with BEE.

        One aim of BEE is to alleviate poverty in South Africa. Does BEE still achieve that goal 20-years since its adoption?

    • Ben Harper says:

      Alas it’s another anti-DA hack piece as has become the norm on DM. The same writer sings the praises of a party that wants to put in place a 500Bn warchest – all from taxpayers money derived from taxing pensions. No credibility here

      • Bob Dubery says:

        Did you read it? The author says very clearly that it’s an impressive manifesto in many respects. There’s even a good word for Helen Zille.

        • Ben Harper says:

          and the stab at them for “racial blindness”?

          • Bob Dubery says:

            That is one item on the author’s list of what they do and don’t like. In fact it’s the only black mark.

            You’re making a summer out of one swallow. Or a winter out of one something else.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Here are 5 considerations that I firmly believe make the DA the best option for every single South African by a country mile.

          The DA:
          1. Is a truly multiracial party – it is for all of us.
          2. Is about people, not individual politician personalities.
          3. Has solid proven national governance experience and ability.
          4. Understands the importance of the rule of law and implements it.
          5. Recognises that a thriving economy is critical to our success.

          Learn from our past and leave race behind. Racial politics is the single most likely cause of our country failing completely.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          We need to learn from our past and leave race behind; racial politics is the single most likely cause of our country failing completely.

          Here are 6 must-have attributes for any party to provide us South Africans with the best possible outcome:

          1. Must be truly multi-racial, – representing all South Africans.
          2. Must be about the people – not individual politician personalities.
          3. Must have solid proven national governance experience and ability.
          4. Must understand the importance of the rule of law, and implement it.
          5. Must recognise that a thriving economy is critical to our success.
          6. Must be big enough to win outright regional majorities – coalitions are to be avoided at all costs.

          The DA is the only party in South Africa that has all of these attributes.

        • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

          I have the same adoration for Hellen Zille she was on the right track and never shied away from the race issue, some issues that she could have handled better on the black leaders within the DA but she had the guts to appoint them, only she was not leading alone.

      • Paddy Ross says:

        I thought that this is the most unbiased article involving the DA that I have ever read on DM. Thank you. Ferial, for enlightening all those who presumably can read but criticise the DA “because all the DA does is criticise the ANC”.
        The stand out attribute of the DA is that it governs to the best of its ability in the interests of all.

    • R S says:

      As a PoC I would prefer all poor people are helped as much as possible, regardless of their race.

      • Allrite Jack says:

        Thats an understandable viewpoint from your perspective. But to a large extent due to ANC policies, or I would sake lack of policy, we have 20 million people needing uplifted by 7 million taxpayers. It simply is not possible, & it doesn,t take much ediucation to understand that.

  • Whataboutboxer Animalfarm says:

    These items should be the message for the next few months.
    Avoid any discussion about the majority party as far as possible, even the failures, they are public knowledge
    It’s important stand for something.

  • James Baxter says:

    I am black guy from Ekurulheni township. DA is running this municipal called Ekurhuleni and things are just about running normally. So I used to love ANC with all my heart until Polokwane conference when my beloved president Thabo was jeered and politically mishandled in that fateful conference. I was so sad for Thabo but I recovered after a while and learned to grow out of my worship of ANC. I used to worship ANC. But now I have no political home, and am considering three parties to vote for including ANC, DA, and EFF. These are my tree parties and hope all voters would vote for one of them and narrow the number of parties in parliament but at least ACDP should have one sit for my favourite political leader, Baba Kenneth. That politician is a politician driven by God

  • ST ST says:

    I agree it’s important to stand for something. But with so many of the populace still not clear about how the ANC crimes have affect them, a good PR campaign that mixes vision and an injection of the truths about the causes our despair is needed. Otherwise the ANC gets always with promises again.

    Also, the DA should be careful of replacing something better know and possibly well liked with something abstract like UNSDGs. These things need to be unpacked so that people understand what the UN goals have to do with their current state.

    Need more emphasis on jobseekers grant and job creation than the other grants for working age people. Otherwise may continue to perpetrate a similar issue as in UK where being pregnant/babies may be seen as an income stream by some. Not saying poor people are not allowed to have children and de supported.

    Need a way to convert the currently educated (matric+)unemployed to makertable skills e.g apprenticeship

    It’s not clear how the current health system is going to be sorted. It’s not going away and it serves the majority. Increasing competition only helps those already covered. A scheme such as the in Germany,France, even closer to home Rwanda (job, social insurance from community organisations etc is added to healthcare pile can help. all who can should pay a bit. Making pastors rich doesn’t help the poor.

    There may be more meat to their manifesto. But its too late in the game to change things, leave them abstract for those lost voters

  • Agf Agf says:

    Whose eyebrows is it raising? Yours and Rebecca Davis?

  • J vN says:

    The “racial blindness of BEE” [sic] has directly led to disasters like Eskom, Transnet and multiple other state failures. It’s very, very, very simple: no developing country can afford to have Eskom pay R8000 for a broom because of parasitic middlemen on a racial and indeed racist basis.

    SA can either be a successful country, or it can have racist BEE. You can only have one of the above.

    • Anthony Krijger says:

      To topple the fat cats that are the beneficiaries of BEE is a monumental exercise as they are not going to move away from the feeding trough without a fight.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    Here’s the thing: There is only party that might, possibly, have to deliver on it’s manifesto and that party is the ANC. No other party has any chance of governing alone and so will have to enter into a coalition. And when you do that, then everybody involved has to make concessions. So I like many aspects of this manifesto, especially the expansion of the grants package, but will it ever be delivered? Oh well, we have to hope for something.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    At last, a mature manifesto, based on real in the field experience.

    This is the only solid option for all our people.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Some good ideas, Ferial almost choking giving her muted praise.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    I think the DA is correct to remove race as a proxy for disadvantage. This is a practical manifesto. I hope they have the opportunity to make progress in implementing it.

  • John P says:

    The secret now is to present this to the voters in such a way as to create excitement and gain support.

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F – February 26th 2024 at 10:45 -. Yes! Yes! Why is there not another political party with such progressive and intelligent thinking as the DA. Based on this manifesto a majority of thinking persons, irrespective of age, colour, creed or religious following will be attracted to support the DA. Perhaps s decent coalition will follow.

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    The UN SDG? So they’re trying to trigger the truthers and the tankies all at the same time? This should get interesting.

    On a more serious note, I think they erred by not at least saying they’ll phase BEE out gradually based on attaining certain economic growth/human development milestones. What people will hear from the current manifesto (at best) is, “We have a different plan; it may take some time; please be patient — no, really, you’ll just have to wait”.

  • L Dennis says:

    B blessed DA.

  • William Dryden says:

    Brilliant and well thought out manifesto, lets pray that the DA coalition removes the ANC once and for all and returns this country to its full potential.

  • Allrite Jack says:

    Net zero is an idiots choice & shows Steenhuisen is not a well read person, but rather a naive follower of the globalist MSM agenda. We need visionaries, & clearly he is not one. We have a plethora of followers to choose from but a dearth of thinkers

  • Allrite Jack says:

    Increase child support grant from R510 to R760;
    Extend the child support grant to pregnant mothers to support child nutrition;
    I could go back 50 years in the UK welfare system but its the same today. Almost invariably, child support grants simply go to meet the higher earning expectations of the recipients. i.e. only the parents benefit. You are talking about the lower levels of society, & they simply have different ideals than you or I adhere to.

  • Just Me says:

    The DA is the way to go.

    I also agree with Moloetse Mbeki’s points where he thought the ANC’s mortal sins are:

    MORTAL SIN 1: BBBEE as a government policy
    MORTAL SIN 2: Affirmative action as an employment policy in the state (‘Parasitic’ black middle class)
    MORTAL SIN 3: Retaining SOEs instead of privatising them (Investment boycott)
    MORTAL SIN 4: Foreign policy failures in Mozambique and Zimbabwe
    MORTAL SIN 5: Removing the army’s control of 4,862km of land border

  • Nnete Fela says:

    Don’t care much for manifestos, rarely translate into measurable achievements.
    What should replace the intentions of what BEE was meant to address? If we agree that BEE/EEA should be scrapped, does it also suggest that the intention, goals, agendas of addressing past imbalances in wealth creation, access to employment and fair and just employment practices for previously marginalised groups shouldn’t be considered. I and I believe any reasonable person will agree that we need to build a vibrant economy that creates jobs so WE can all be prosperous, but I think it’s foolish to think the majority of the population should just be happy to have a job packing groceries and tending to the immaculate gardens of people who themselves are beneficiaries of a system that was designed to disenfranchise them. I think it’s an incontrovertible truth that, that will lead us all into a purgatorial reality we sought to avoid in the 90’s
    The ANC are incompetent liars. MANY white people are well meaning and just plainly dishonest. But then again, I hold the view that if I were white, I’d probably have voted for maintaining the status quo in the referendum

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      After 30 years of the misuse of BEE we can all see it has done a lot more damage than good for all our people …except the ANC chosen few.

      Firstly we all need to recognise 2 hard truths:

      1. A person with no/poor education can be a grocery packer, but if BEE places that person in a position running a company, they will destroy that company, killing the jobs of everyone in the company, and our economy. Our country cannot afford this luxury.

      2. The only way to responsibly and productively get someone with no education a decent job is to educate that person. There is no short cut. There is no “free lunch”. BEE has proven this brilliantly.

      Given the above, there are a few key things that need to happen – which would have happened a long time ago if the ANC hadn’t been so busy stealing everyone’s hope.

      1. Laws must be enforced. We cannot compete in this world today without a functioning economy, and the basic building block of this is equality before law and its proper enforcement

      2. we must focus everything on education. It must be free and available to all AND parents must make sure their children go to school.

      And then, like when we invest money, we must wait – 12 years, for these properly educated people – of all colours – to complete and become whatever they want to be, and do whatever they want to, creating a proper economy and a proper future for all our people.

      This is the only way we will all be successful. It is not about race, it is about reality.

  • Abel Mngadi says:

    It would be appropriate for DA to explain this UNSDG as I have tried to familiarise myself with it and I battled to understand it in our own SA context. Possibly not the only one who needs clarity on it and how it will be implemented, but many voters would love clarity as they are still attached to BEE and EE, which on paper looked good for the black population, but were badly implemented by the ANC and mainly benefited their families and friends.

  • Alison Immelman Immelman says:

    I notice no one has said a thing about education. Our current school year is 43 weeks – Longer even than China by 2 weeks going by a quick Google search. Teachers and learners are absolutely shattered. This manifesto wants to add a week to that.
    And before you start talking about half day jobs, ask yourself very carefully why YOU aren’t doing it if it’s such a cushy job. Oh, and you’re welcome to pop in at the end of a term when marks and reports are due.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Don’t like it – change jobs

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      @alison I empathize with your position, and it is very likely that more teachers are needed and equally likely that the DA has already thought of this and is planning for it.

      Unfortunately though, getting South Africa on track is not going Tobe easy and will doubtlessly require sacrifice from all of us.

  • Jan Vos says:

    Exactly the same as the ANC – promises, promises, and more promises – with NO WAY to make it work. Pffft! Clowns- ALL of them.

    If it starts with a “P” don’t trust it: Police, Priest, Politician, Pope, Prostitute, Property Salesman, President, Poepol… the list is looong!

  • Turbulent Introvert says:

    I think BBBEE should go.

    We need BBPDEE.
    There were many Previously Disadvantaged who were not black African, but other races as well.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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