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Opinionista

Hope is on the horizon for South Africa

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John Steenhuisen is the leader of the Democratic Alliance.

A revitalised Democratic Alliance is committed to giving South Africans a reason to again lift their eyes up from the ground. The people of South Africa are no longer alone.

On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance decisively broke with an era of indecision and populist shortcuts. 

From now on, the DA will be singularly focused on one thing and one thing only: taking power from the incapable state and giving it to the people. The task ahead of us will not be an easy one.

Our country is in serious trouble, and the stakes have never been higher. When we look around us, we see despair and desperation; poverty and hunger. We see politicians blaming each other for what’s gone wrong, while people suffer.

All of this is happening despite the fact that the vast majority of South Africans are warm-hearted, honest and hard-working people trying to build a future for their families. We are not a nation of thieves and criminals beset on destroying our country. And yet, each and every one of us is exposed to thievery, criminality and decline on a daily basis. As we journey through life, many of us no longer lift our heads to the horizon, because we are too scared of what we may see waiting in our future.

How is it that this nation of hard-working and peace-loving people knows neither prosperity nor peace?

It is because, over the past quarter of a century, the people of South Africa have become hostages to bureaucrats and central planners. People power has been replaced by state control.

Just think of any problem you encounter in your daily life. At the root of it you will find a state that is utterly incapable and corrupt, yet absolutely hellbent on telling you what to do.

People don’t have electricity in their homes because the government insists on a state monopoly for power generation. People are poor because the government crushes entrepreneurship, growth and job creation. Excessive state control is the reason why people can no longer take the train to work, and why the government would rather spend the little tax money that’s left to fund an airline that we do not need.

In every domain of life, the incapable state gets in the way of South Africans getting ahead.

And what is the current governing party’s solution to the problems caused by excessive state control? Their solution is even more state control. We now face the prospect of the state taking away private property. In the future, South Africans may longer be able to take out private medical insurance. There is the very real fear that the pension which people spent a lifetime saving will be taken from them.

No longer content with controlling them, the government now wants to own the people of South Africa. They are coming for your home, your health, and your savings.

The good news is that the people of South Africa are starting to reject state control. People do not want to live a life of dependency on a failing and corrupt state. People are tired of being told what to do by rulers who only look out for themselves. People want to stand on their own two feet as self-reliant, autonomous human beings. They want the power and the freedom to make their own choices and build a life they value.

This is what the DA offers under my leadership: people power.

We will fight to give power and opportunities to every law-abiding, honest and hard-working citizen – regardless of their background – to build a life they value. As the DA’s constitution so eloquently puts it: “Our party is uniquely founded on faith in the South African people.”

There have been endless debates about the meaning of liberalism in today’s world. But, for me, liberalism in its purest form is a commitment to give power to the people so that they can decide for themselves how to build lives of value.

This means building a capable state that protects citizens from harms like violent crime, and delivers the quality education, healthcare and other services that all people need to unlock opportunity. We must take power away from the state and put it in the hands of the people, where it rightfully belongs.

The one thing that unites South Africans above all else is the desire to determine one’s own destiny. We have many problems in this country. But the people of South Africa are not one of them. There is nothing wrong with South Africa that cannot be fixed with all that is good about South Africans.

I know that many South Africans are so scared that they stare only at the ground in front of them, just trying to put one foot in front of another. But a revitalised Democratic Alliance is committed to giving you a reason to again lift your eyes up from the ground. The people of South Africa are no longer alone.

From the Uber driver in Soweto to the nurse in Mthatha and the farmer in Vredendal, the people yearn for a government that provides things like good schools, clean drinking water, a sustainable safety net for the vulnerable, and a reliable electricity supply so that they can pursue their own dreams in life.

They want a leg up from a caring and effective government, not handouts from a failing state.

With my election on Sunday, the DA, alongside millions of ordinary South Africans, took the first step on our journey towards a horizon of hope where power lies with the people, not with the corrupt and incapable state.

I know that many South Africans are so scared that they stare only at the ground in front of them, just trying to put one foot in front of another. But a revitalised Democratic Alliance is committed to giving you a reason to again lift your eyes up from the ground. The people of South Africa are no longer alone.

History has proven that when hard-working and peace-loving South Africans from all backgrounds overcome our differences to unite in the quest for people power, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Together, the DA and the people of this country can take power back from the corrupt and incapable state that stole it away.

We can win this battle to take power back from the state if as many people as possible rally to the cause. Our first opportunity to begin wresting power away from those who seek to control us will come in less than one year from today, during the 2021 local government elections.

That is why I am asking you to get out there and register to vote DA in your local municipality. Spread the word that the days of indecision and mixed messaging are well and truly over, and that our country can be fixed if we elect a courageous DA government that will give power back to the people.

From the first step we took together on Sunday and during every mile of the journey that lies ahead, the DA proudly walks side by side with the people of this country. Not a day longer will you have to walk with shoulders slumped. From now on, the DA walks alongside the people of South Africa. With our chins held high our eyes are focused – not on the many perils that confront us today – but on the horizon of hope that beckons tomorrow. DM

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All Comments 5

  • Hope was on the horizon in 1994 too and we all know what happened with that.

    South Africa has only one problem and that is the entire set of politicians regardless of political affiliation.

    You have elevated incompetence to an art form. And that includes you John!!!!

  • Well done. Its so refreshing to read an article that has a positive vision and outlook – something to work towards. I am so sick to death of nay-sayers and gloom and doom prophets. You have a very tough job ahead of you. Wishing you all the best.

  • Curious that Steenhuisen speaks of “taking power from the incapable state and giving it to the people.” It’s not the first time he’s targeted the State, as opposed to the sitting government. Is this the agenda of the increasingly right-libertarian SAIRR at work, operating through Helen Zille? And if so, does Steenhuisen have any real autonomy as leader of the DA?

  • John, I truly liked you when you were the chief whip of the DA. In fact, you were brilliant. Unfortunately, the DA lost votes in 2019. This was not due to the the leader of the DA at the time (As put forward by Tony Leon), but because many DA voters voted for the ANC (to assist Ramaphosa in his battle with the Zuma faction), and conservative Afrikaans voters voting for the Groenewald party. The DA then basically kicked out Musi, and re-elected Zille. And she will be your cross to bear. John, you are not leadership standard, and in time Zille will also betray you