The following remarks were delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at City Hall in Nelson Mandela Bay today:
Fellow South Africans
Being able to gather here today at a voting station where people – many of them first-time voters – can add their names to the voter’s roll is more than just a privilege. It is a democratic right, and it is the duty of every citizen to participate.
Many South Africans in other parts of the country were turned away from their voting stations yesterday as riots and protests forced these stations to close. This cannot continue today. Our democratic process must be available to all our people, and it is crucial that our police resources are deployed to protect this right.
Two years ago, when we were preparing for the 2016 local government elections, I travelled with Mayor Trollip to every corner of Nelson Mandela Bay, speaking to residents of the Bay about the kind of government they deserve, and how the DA would be that government.
I said we had a real chance of kicking the ANC out, along with all its greed, theft and corruption, and replacing them with a government that knew how to serve the people with humility.
We said: give us one chance to prove that we are nothing like the corrupt ANC government that brought this city to its knees. Let us prove ourselves.
And the people of the Bay did it. More people in Nelson Mandela Bay voted for the DA in 2016 than for any other party. We still needed the support of some smaller parties to unseat the ANC, but this was our foot in the door.
Those parties that decided to back a DA-led government here in NMB knew exactly what they were getting into. We made it clear that we would not tolerate corruption, and we would not allow anyone to get in the way of our efforts to improve the lives of poor people in this city.
We may have differed on other things, but these conditions were non-negotiable. And all the parties agreed. They all agreed that NMB could never go back to the theft and the lawlessness of an ANC government.
But now the EFF have said they will hand Nelson Mandela Bay back to the corrupt ANC, not because of poor governance or corruption or anything that this government did wrong. No, their reason for turning on the DA is pure racism.
In the words of Julius Malema, it is “because the mayor of DA in PE is a white man.”
He also said: “We are going to remove a mayor of PE. We are going for your white man in PE. We are going to cut the throat.”
Malema makes the crucial mistake of thinking many others share his racist views. He’ll soon find out just how wrong he is. Most people reject his racist hatred. Most people reject his threats of violence and his crude insults.
We are certainly not intimidated by him.
Neither Mayor Trollip nor the DA will stand by and watch as the EFF launch their racist attacks. We reject this outright and we will stand together and fight. The EFF see government as merely seats so they can eat, but our view is that government is about and for the people. And that is why we will prevail.
We will prevail because most people only care about getting ahead in life – about getting opportunities, and using these opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their families. They care about honesty and accountability, not racism and violence.
The DA will prevail because we believe that our strength as a nation lies in our diversity. And we believe in the Constitution that protects and promotes this diversity. “We, the People of South Africa, believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”
Ask Julius Malema how he reconciles this line in the preamble to the Constitution with his continuous threats to white people. He can’t, because he doesn’t believe in our Constitution.
He doesn’t believe in its protection of people’s right to own property, and he doesn’t believe in its protection of people’s dignity and safety. He doesn’t care for the people – he only cares for his own political career.
Julius Malema will find that his threats to hand NMB back to the party that destroyed it will backfire on him. The people will punish him severely. The people of NMB don’t want the ANC back here.
The people of this city – and particularly the young people who cannot find work – want a government that can help them get a foot on the jobs ladder. And one way to do so is through our internship programme for young jobseekers.
This week’s by-election result here in Ward 1 is a sign of things to come – the DA is growing, the ANC is shrinking and the EFF is hardly worth mentioning.
If you want to know just how bad it was here before the DA took over, read a book by former ANC insider, Crispian Olver, called ‘How to Steal a City’. He explains how this place was run like a mafia operation. Every contract, every purchase, every decision had two price tags on it – one for the actual procurement, and the other for the ANC crony’s fee.
It was a feeding frenzy, and no one cared about the people anymore. That’s the Nelson Mandela Bay we inherited.
In just over 18 months we have made huge progress in turning this city around. From housing projects, to water treatment plants, and the Integrated Public Transport System, we started rolling out new projects and we resurrected projects that had stalled for years under the ANC.
We launched a brand new Metro Police Department to fight crime and gangsters. We handed over thousands of title deeds. We tarred roads and brought electricity to communities.
I am incredibly proud of Mayor Trollip’s team here in NMB, and particularly the Mayco Members. Under extremely difficult circumstances you have continued to serve the people of this city. Your sacrifice has made a huge difference.
These past 18 months this city has seen more progress than the previous decade. But all this hard work and all this progress is now being threatened.
Many young people in NMB will be voting in next year’s election for the first time. People like Xolisa Ngejane from Mount Frere, who is here today to register as a voter. If you chat to Xolisa, and many others like him, you will quickly realise that they don’t want the ANC back here. They want this City to keep on working!
From today onwards, Xolisa will be a registered voter. And this means he will have a say in the kind of country he wants for himself. He will be empowered to choose his own destiny, and he will have the chance to tell populists exactly what he thinks of their rubbish.
If you feel the same way – if you want to build a South Africa of hope and opportunity – then make sure your name is on the voter’s roll too. Because if we are to replace the hatred and corruption of the ANC, and their new friends the EFF, with the honesty and accountability of the DA, then we will need every single voter behind us.