Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 12 November 2013

Dear JJ, let’s talk frankly about my plans for Gauteng

A few days ago, JJ Tabane had some stern words for the DA’s Gauteng Premier Candidate. In today’s column, Mmusi Maimane strikes back.

I’d like to thank JJ Tabane for the thinly veiled approval he affords me for my election, not selection, as Gauteng Premier Candidate (Daily Maverick, 11 November).

That is not to say, though, that Mr Tabane’s piece holds much further accuracy. He is, after all, the person who proudly proclaimed on Twitter that Nomvula Mokonyane looked “in charge” on her recent visit to Bekkersdal. This was right before she told people she didn’t want their “dirty votes” and was booed off stage.

The approval of my Premier candidacy aside, Mr Tabane goes on to get his argument so wrong on the facts.

Primarily, the DA is the most diverse political party in South Africa. In fact, the DA is the most diverse political party that South Africa has ever seen.

We would not be in a position to win Gauteng in this election if that were not the case.

The reason that our support is growing is found in our commitment to redress the legacy of Apartheid in South Africa and to create opportunities for all who live in this country.

In fact, redress is a cornerstone of the DA offer to South Africa. When one looks at our policies the argument cannot sensibly be made that the DA stands for anything but full opportunities for all.

But opportunity for all means specifically directing opportunities toward those who were denied them under Apartheid.

This is why we categorically support not just BEE, but Broad Based BEE. In fact our policies will vastly improve on the current conception of BEE whereby the same connected individuals keep benefitting over and over again, and everyone else loses out.

That’s why we support the BEE Act but not the codes that are designed to entrench this continual benefitting of the same individuals. Every person who suffered under Apartheid must benefit from BEE.

Similarly the Employment Equity Amendment Bill contains provisions that hinder black advancement, and Parliament must address these before passing this Bill into law.

We emerged into a free South Africa with dreams of a future that brought equality to all. We hoped and we were promised that things would improve. But in so many ways those promises have been broken. Indeed Jacob Zuma’s ANC has turned its back on the people.

Where the DA governs we make progress to improve people’s lives. And this is borne out by data from the 2011 National Census, showing the Western Cape to be the best performer at delivering basic services countrywide. Indeed, in just four years of government we have turned around basic service delivery provision.

This is the change that the people of Gauteng deserve to believe in.

I have crossed the length and breadth of this province in my Believe Bus hearing from every corner of this province what people face here, where the ANC governs.

In Sebokeng, at the hostels, I found streets flowing with sewage, and property so derelict that the people who live there are forced to coexist with pigs. And these hostels exist on Gauteng Government land.

And in Diepsloot, this week, the story of a seven-month-old child whose body had been eaten by rats. Where is the hope for people who live in fear of being eaten by rats when their government does not care?

So people then rise up, and they protest. In so many areas of this province, and others, we see frustrations boil over onto the streets. But when people protest, out of desperation, they are beaten and killed by the police.

This is not the South Africa that we all dreamed of in 1994. This is not the change that the people of our country deserve. Under Jacob Zuma, this government has become so side-tracked by its corrupt ways that it has lost sight of the people.

One of the biggest examples of this is the debacle around e-tolls. This scheme was forced onto the residents of Gauteng without their consent. It will bleed the people of this province dry, it will destroy jobs and it will close businesses. But that seems to be unimportant to the ANC as it presses on with e-tolls.

What the people of Gauteng know is that in next year’s election they have the opportunity to vote against e-tolls. And if Mr Tabane or anyone else thinks there is no way to fight e-tolls, they have another think coming. I will in the coming days reveal my plan to fight e-tolls as Premier of Gauteng.

This is the change that we will ask the people of Gauteng to believe in.

There will be no greater change than that which brings jobs to the people of Gauteng who struggle every day to get ahead.

And for this reason, job creation will be my number one priority as Premier.

By helping entrepreneurs start businesses, and by making it much easier to do business we will stimulate job creation like never before.

We will do everything to stop corruption and to weed out corrupt officials. We will fight e-tolls from inside government. We will support business and introduce apprenticeship and a provincial Youth Wage Subsidy programme – that is how I will lead Gauteng, and that is how we will bring change together.

This is the change we need, to make Gauteng great.

This is what motivates me to stand up and run this race with everything that I have. Our support grows every day, and with this election approaching it is truly a two-horse race for Gauteng.

We made this clear when we launched this campaign in front of a crowd of over 8,000 people at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto.

Over this registration weekend, I was on the ground moving across the province from voting station to voting station. We did well – people have been coming out to register. They are registering to vote for change.

While I have been hard at work with the people of this province, putting them at the centre of our vision for change in Gauteng, I note that the ANC has yet to decide its candidate for Premier.

Perhaps they won’t even seek to put one up. But if as you suggest, Mr Tabane, they choose David Makhura, I will gladly welcome him as a late-arrival challenger to this race.

There is no competition heading to the Premiership of Gauteng that I would not welcome. Competition is what makes a political race stronger, and competition is the very core of democracy, as is change. A democracy is only as strong as its ability to allow peaceful political change.

If we want to talk about contradictions, let’s be frank, no matter what Makhura may say or promise, so long as his big boss Zuma stands with 700 counts of corruption over his head, Makhura looks like the puppet who just gets wheeled out when it suits the ANC.

If this weren’t true, why would Mokonyane be removed from Gauteng? She’s already on record as desiring a second term. Plainly, this is a vote of no confidence in the ANC’s delivery record in this province.

So let us indeed be frank, whether its Makhura or Mokonyane, dirty votes or a non-entity, another ANC term will be five more years of exactly the same corruption, maladministration and nepotism.

And that, no one can condone. The ANC of Jacob Zuma has lost its way, and no matter how much they campaign on past achievements, the people know that the future is not bright under an ANC government after 2014.

That is why I believe in change, and that is why the people of Gauteng believe in change with me. Don’t be left behind, JJ – maybe it’s time for yet another one of those floor-crossing moments of yours. DM

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