Opinionista Cameron Arendse 25 April 2013

Dear JJ, let’s talk frankly

It is not hard to see why Cope’s communication strategy was such a spectacular failure with you in charge. You see, credibility is the key to good communication and I am afraid you simply have none.

You have now left Cope to go back to the ANC. One can’t help but wonder what prompted this move. Could it be that there is an election around the corner and you need a lifeline?

And just a thought: perhaps you should think twice before bandying around the “political chameleon” epithet. You know what they say about people who live in glass houses.

It would take me years to rebut every factual inaccuracy and unsubstantiated comment in your letter, so I am not going to even try.

Reading between the lines of your letter, it is obvious that the ANC is deeply worried about the DA. Why else would your Secretary-General feel moved to write an opinion piece about our campaign in one of the leading Sunday newspapers?

The ANC knows that it is losing the argument on service delivery. People on the ground are gravely disappointed at the slow pace of delivery where the ANC governs. And they are sickened by the ostentatious lifestyles of those who claim to be part of a ‘selfless struggle’.

Nothing illustrates this better than the R200 million spent on a private presidential palace while school kids in Limpopo go without textbooks. By contrast, people are starting to see the difference the DA is making in people’s lives where it governs.

They look to the Western Cape where, last year, over 65% of underperforming schools received an improved pass rate of 60% and more. The DA is building more schools in poor areas than ever existed under the ANC. In fact, the only period during which the Western Cape Education Department closed more schools than it built was when the ANC ran the provincial government. And in the rest of the country, the ANC has closed, and is closing, thousands of schools.

The recent Census results that were released reflected the Western Cape (and specifically Cape Town) has grown by 30% in ten years. This is unprecedented. And we have nevertheless kept up with service delivery. The same census found that 99.1% of households have access to piped water, 93.4% to electricity and 96.9% have toilet facilities within the Western Cape. The Western Cape is not stopping here though as the goal is to provide basic services to 100% of households. This is also reflected by 76% of the Western Cape’s annual budget being directed towards education, health services, housing and social development. The DA is opening opportunity for people in poor communities.

I was born in Rocklands in Mitchells Plain 26 years ago.

The Apartheid government created Mitchells Plain in the late 1970s as an extension of the Cape Flats community to accommodate the growing number of coloured people who already resided in Cape Town.

My family was never political but understood the value of a providing me with the best education they could afford, as well as other necessities so that I had opportunities in life. And we used those opportunities. My father has experienced different governments and he now says that he has never before experienced the City working as well as it does now. He now simply takes the levels of service for granted, and that is how it should be. We are trying to achieve the same for the hundreds of thousands of people who come to Cape Town and the Western Cape to seek a better life.

The DA is working hard where it governs to redress the legacy of apartheid.  And it is making progress. The ANC knows this and, more importantly, so do the people who live in DA-governed areas.

And that is why the ANC is throwing everything into attacking the ‘Know Your DA’ campaign. The argument that it has a monopoly on the struggle against apartheid is one argument the ANC cannot afford to lose. Because, when it does, the whole edifice will come tumbling down. DM

Cameron Arendse is a spokesperson for DA Leader Helen Zille.


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