The following speech was delivered by the DA Federal Leader, Mmusi Maimane, to the party’s Federal Congress delegates at the Tshwane Events Centre today.
Delegates, Colleagues, Fellow Democrats,
To our Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip, thank you for chairing this meeting and for your steady hand.
You are a distinguished leader, unwavering spokesman for our cause, tireless campaigner for the underdog, and we honour you, Athol.
You leave here today to return to your job as Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. I hear there is someone, some smallanyana someone, that want to move another motion against you on Tuesday.
Athol, every person in this hall is with you, every DA voter is with you, even people who don’t support us yet are supporting you! You will still be the Mayor next week, next year, next Congress!
Hands off Athol Trollip, hands off!!
Then, to the professional staff who put this incredible Congress together, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the countless hours of work that went into this for many months, and thank you for all that you do for our party. You have delivered the best Congress the DA has ever hosted, without question.
To our newly elected Federal Leadership team, I congratulate you on your election.
To our Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip, and our Deputy Federal Chairpersons, Ivan Meyer and Mike Waters and Refiloe Ntsekhe.
Congratulations to all of you on your election.
Congress has shown confidence in you, and now you have the responsibility to serve this organisation with passion and devotion.
Most importantly, your responsibility is to build the DA and leave it a better, stronger, bigger organisation in 3 year’s time than it is today on the day you are elected.
No one in the DA is elected to make a name for themselves.
You run for office in the DA because you believe in our cause deeply, and you want to contribute to championing that cause.
No one elected in the DA must take themselves too seriously, BUT we must take the DA very seriously.
We must take our voters, and the issues that effect their lives, very seriously.
We must take the issues of the many millions who do not yet vote for us, and the things they face in their lives, very seriously.
We must take the issues of our country – unemployment and crippling poverty, out of control crime – very seriously.
Our focus must be on them, not on us.
Our focus must be out there, not in here.
Our focus must not be on showing who we are and what we can do, not on telling.
This weekend we have renewed the commitment of the Democratic Alliance to our central cause, the same cause that has given us a sense of purpose since the very founding of our party, and which continues to inspire us today.
The cause of a country united as one, a fairer society for all, the freedom of each man and woman, and the struggles of life and survival that our citizens endure every day.
This weekend we have achieved much to be proud of.
We have put in words in our Constitution, that which we have always lived: That we are the most diverse party in the country. The only party that is truly for all South Africans.
I want to thank Congress for supporting the inclusion of diversity as a value of our party. Not because it was not previously. It has always been.
But because sometimes it is important to affirm again, in our guiding documents, that which is important and sacred to us. We must hand over to future generations of DA members that which is close to our heart and which guides our actions.
That is what we have done this weekend, and I thank you for supporting me in doing it.
This weekend we have reaffirmed that our purpose as Democrats is not to fight for a better behaved ANC, but for an entirely new government for South Africa, led by us and our values. So let us go forward with confidence and vigour to pursue our goals for the 2019 elections.
Our primary goal, the thing that must fill us with passion from this day on, is winning in Gauteng. We can do it, and we will do it.
To our Provincial Leader, John Moodey, and his team – the whole of Congress is supporting our campaign in Gauteng, and we are with you. Make us proud.
We have also resolved this weekend that getting South Africans into jobs will be the first priority of our economic policy, and our singular obsession in government.
This is what being in government is about for us. Expanding opportunities for people to work. Jobs jobs jobs. Every South African must know that above all the other improvement that we bring in government, even more important than cutting corruption, where the DA governs, more people have work. Simple!
We know that there is nothing wrong with South Africa that cannot be fixed by a government with sound policies that actually work, that create jobs, and that get people into work.
It’s been the government’s policies that have led us to high levels of poverty and unemployment.
With a DA government, we can begin to undo this.
We have resolved this weekend that all people should have the dignity of ownership of their home. We will proudly be the party that is the champion of land reform in our cities. People in DA governed cities will receive full title deeds to their homes, and I was filled with pride to hear my friend from the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela, saying that he had already distributed 91 000 title deeds.
Everyone should have the dignity of a home, the dignity of land and most critically the know how. We don’t need to change our precious Constitution for this. We just need to cut corruption and get the job done properly.
We have resolved this weekend that we will address the serious issues facing public healthcare in the country by building more clinics, especially in communities that have no access currently, and by bringing back nursing colleges.
We have resolved that our cities and towns will cement their roles as the center points of economic growth in our economy.
We have decided on a number of overtly pro-small business initiatives, giving South Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit the support needed to succeed.
We have decided to fight for the poor by challenging the ANC’s VAT increase – not only because it is the ANC refilling the coffers they have looted, but because we must protect mothers who are already struggling to feed their children.
In committing ourselves to these resolutions, we have reaffirmed that the DA will be the party that leads South Africa not just with the cause of unity and prosperity for all, but also with the best ideas to back it up.
Some of our opponents are preoccupied with the failed ideas of the distant past.
We will respond by winning the argument with the best ideas for the future.
They rely on scapegoating and dividing our country on race.
We respond by rejecting this cynical politics and offering in its place the politics of unity, co-operation, and shared prosperity.
Some of our opponents have taken recently to talking of a “New Dawn”.
But the public does not judge them on their recent talk, but rather on their long record.
And so too we will be judged on our record.
Where we govern, life gets better step by step, for all residents, and especially poor residents.
Life gets better when we stop the corruption and start spending money on real services.
And it gets better when we focus on basic service delivery, and do our jobs honestly, and treat voters with respect, and be available to help.
That is how we touch peoples’ lives, and that is how we show, rather than tell.
I am confident that our governments in Tshwane and Johannesburg have begun to show the residents of Gauteng what we can do if they vote for us to govern this province next year.
We can bring real change to this province, and our record shows it.
Next year, we can bring change to Gauteng. Let’s visit every house, knock on every door, speak to every voter.
Let’s win this province in 2019!
We will win because we are focused on the real struggles of our people, and not on greed and the comfort of power.
We will win because we are right.
I have no doubt that there will be difficulties and setbacks in the years ahead. There always are. But I also have no doubt that if we are true to our founding ideals and our motivating cause, we will overcome anything in our path, and we will win in the end.
When our opponents obsess about power, we obsess about how to extend freedom, fairness, opportunity to every South African.
That is the difference between us and them. And it is that abiding commitment that will guide us to victory.
Let us go forth from this place today and fight for those who democracy has left behind.
Those for whom freedom still means the prison of poverty and unemployment.
Long after the banners in this hall have been taken down, and we have all travelled home, let us keep the spirit and zeal of this Congress alive.
Let us go and win the trust and the support of South Africans.
Let us go forth under the banner of One South Africa for All.
For we are the Democratic Alliance, and this is who we are.