Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 18 November 2013

Respect the sanctity of advancement

It’s not about who’s in power – it’s about what they’re doing with the resources they have at their disposal.

I’m often attacked for telling people they are wrong to say the ANC hasn’t delivered anything since 1994.

But the facts don’t lie – since 1994 basic services have been rolled out to many. So has social support in the form of the RDP housing programme and the social grant system. And in some parts of Gauteng you can see the difference. Some parts of Soweto, for example, have changed for the better.

People get angry when I give credit to Thabo Mbeki for some of the redress policies he tried to put in place.

One of the most progressive pieces of statecraft during that era was the passing of the Public Finance Management Act. This law, along with globally acclaimed systems for budgeting and spending public money, still provides us with a framework for clean government today.

If only we would play the role of servants of the public, respect these laws and put these systems into practice.

These days we see how, under Jacob Zuma’s ANC, the people are forgotten. In government we see how public money is wasted on corruption and how only a few are benefiting.

And yet for so many people, every day is a struggle to survive.

We’re not creating jobs; in fact, hundreds of thousands more have become unemployed in the last few years.

I met people from many walks of life during the listening tour of Gauteng I did in the Premier Campaign Bus recently. They tell me that delivery is not happening fast enough.

My own heritage is of a people who came to Gauteng from elsewhere looking for a better life. It is a story of the Group Areas Act; a story of poor education for Black South Africans.

Gauteng is the place of lights, and to live up that reputation, it needs to deliver faster. Right now there are increasingly not enough jobs and opportunities here to meet the aspirations of the many.

In Mamelodi I met people who have been staying in the worst conditions at a hostel for years while houses stood half complete within their sight. In Diepsloot I met a community that fears for its own safety because a police station has still not been built there.

Gauteng is a better place to live in; that’s what it says on the ANC’s billboards I passed on the highway.

The billboards I’m talking about are yellow, green and black. They say “so many thousands of houses built”, “food provided for so many learners” and so on.

Except they’re not ANC billboards. They are Provincial Government billboards decked out in ANC colours, but paid for with public money.

There are other examples of this, like ANC press releases being promoted using the City of Joburg website and twitter account. The most recent release, on Gwede Mantashe’s address to a political school for Councillors, was advertised freely on the city website.  And, of course, then there are the residents who tell me constantly of Councillors who offer EPWP jobs only to those with membership cards.

The use of the State to fight elections puts a lot of money behind Zuma’s ANC and their campaign to maintain a system that benefits only the politically-connected.

That’s why I spend up to five nights a week doing fundraisers so that we remain able to compete to win this election against the odds. And we can win. That’s why I encourage people who believe in change to call the DA’s Head Office to contribute to the Believe Campaign.

People who are prepared to abuse government resources for electioneering send a clear message to the public. If we can do this we are prepared to abuse government for far worse.

Like stealing from the people, for example.

We see it with e-tolls. Anyone have R400 extra a month to travel between Soweto and Midrand? What about R500 more because the price of food is up? Or another R500 when clothing and other basic necessities increase because transporting the goods costs so much more?

In 2012, Gauteng misused R6.6 billion of the entire government budget.

The figure for government wastage in South Africa this year is R30.8 billion, says the Auditor-General.

A key reason why I’m running to govern in Gauteng is because we need to put the money back with delivery where it belongs.

I grew up in Dobsonville, Soweto. My parents had jobs that put food on the table even as so many opportunities were denied to them and my community.

The spirit of that time was that there absolutely must be opportunities for the next generation to reach their best potential.

That sanctity of the people’s aspirations for advancement is what I’ve tried to keep at the centre of my work. Whether it’s as a public representative, a servant of the community or a candidate for election.

I believe the people entrust government with their money. I want to do things differently.

Honouring the people’s trust is a very simple jobs policy that can be delivered by any party committed to clean government.

It goes like this: waste less, so that more can be invested in infrastructure and jobs.

The circle is virtuous – public money goes where it needs to go, things get built faster, more people get support and opportunities to achieve, businesses are started and jobs are created.

The DA in government at provincial level delivered three world-class hospitals in working-class communities in just four years. No one else has been able to do that.

In the case of one hospital, R300 million went to HDI contractors (BEE that works), and R25 million to workers from the local community. Nearly 3,200 people got more than just their first work experience; they received training as well.

Compare that to the police station in Diepsloot, which is still half-built years down the line even while the community remains a place of crime and unemployment. Councillors have reported that work came to a stand-still through mismanaged public funds. This means that the police station is no closer to being open in a community where recently the lives of little children were lost.

With clean government you double the speed of rolling out major infrastructure projects like hospitals, roads and school upgrades.

Infrastructure projects mean jobs. And with clean government you make sure HDI-contractors benefit and the local people get jobs and training on-site.

I believe that we can double the rate of delivery in Gauteng. From basic services, to formal support for entrepreneurs and infrastructure projects – we can deliver it better.

We must do this to create jobs and opportunities for more people, faster. That is what our growing province of Gauteng demands.

People come here from all over the country to try to make a living. If we fail to create enough opportunities for a growing Gauteng, we fail the nation.

This is the demand on us if we are to make Gauteng great for future generations.

Next year is an historic opportunity to vote for that change. The good news is that it’s becoming increasingly clear we can deliver this election for the people.

I am inspired by the number of people who came out to register for change on 9 and 10 November.

These are South Africans who demonstrate that democratic change comes through the ballot.

The broad lesson will always be that if we separate party from state, we prepare government for change. I’m committed to hiring the best in Gauteng and party political affiliation will not be a factor. The true factors will be competence and the expression of confidence in policies that redress the legacy of Apartheid. DM

Mmusi Maimane is the DA’s candidate for Premiership of Gauteng in 2014, and is national spokesperson for the party.

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"Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side." ~ Thurgood Marshall

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