ANC’s bickering is pushing South Africa to the edge
Note to Editors: This extract is based on a speech delivered by DA National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane at the DA’s 2012 Free State Congress on September 15.
It is good to be in the Free State this morning! I love this province.
The people are friendly, the food is fantastic, the nature is even better; the rugby and soccer might not be great, but at least the fans are committed.
But you know, I sort of feel for you guys. You have been given the unenviable task of hosting the ANC’s elective conference here at the end of the year. So much has been made of it that the word Mangaung has become synonymous with internal politics in the ANC. It’s almost all we read about in the newspapers these days.
But in the last few weeks things have gotten out of hand. It has taken a dangerous turn. I feel like we have to take some time to reflect on what is happening in South Africa right now. And then we need to talk about what we are going to do about it.
It is pretty obvious that there is now open warfare between President Zuma and Julius Malema. It’s all about power, it’s all about their egos and South Africans are caught in the middle.
What is particularly disconcerting, is that Julius and his backers are willing to put the stability of the country and its economy at risk simply to score political points for Mangaung. He is going around from mine to mine, abusing and manipulating the genuine and legitimate concerns of ordinary South Africans for his own gain. But all he is doing is damaging our country; and damaging our economy.
The President for his part has no one to blame but himself. He has created a vacuum of leadership. By not delivering on his promises; by not showing decisive leadership; by dodging accountability and by taking the country in the wrong direction President Zuma has created a vacuum for Julius Malema and his backers to cause havoc.
They are willing to sacrifice years of economic progress in their own pursuit of power. They care nothing for the people they pretend to represent. Instead they use them in their own quest for power. What power does Julius Malema have to change people’s lives? What influence does he have? What office does he hold? None. He is a powerless, unemployed young man with no power to help anyone. And yet he jets around the country, and stokes up fear and resentment everywhere he goes. And somehow the media thinks it should report on every word from his mouth.
The President and other ANC leaders have offered nothing but empty words in response.
I quite enjoyed a statement I read from one of our members of Parliament earlier this week. Our Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer -who is an MP from my home province, Gauteng, urged the ANC members of his committee to go with him to Marikana to talk to the workers and to help provide a solution to the crisis there.
They said they were too afraid to attend.
Where is the leadership in that!?
Our country faced similar threats in the run-up to 1994. There were extreme elements in our country who were willing – and attempted to – derail our reconciliation for their own narrow interests. But we had leaders – like Nelson Mandela – who were able to show moral leadership, and lead the country to a better place through their own actions.
Unfortunately we do not have that in government anymore. I sometimes feel like our President only governs through committees, inquiries and investigations. Have you noticed that? All President Zuma is ever doing is handling some crisis; and he almost always handles it with a committee, or an investigation or a cabinet reshuffle.
By the way, I’m taking bets on when Angie Motshekga is going to be “reshuffled” to the transport portfolio – since she clearly has experience in dealing with transport and delivery problems.
But seriously now. Whenever there’s a crisis, we get a lame response so that government can say it did something.
Arms deal problems? Commission of Inquiry!
Marikana massacre? Judicial Commission of Inquiry!
Strikes getting out of hand? Get the security minister to release a press statement!
Staggering unemployment? Get Trevor Manual to write a plan you’ll never implement!
Increasing incidents of racism? Host a talk-shop!
Our President – and the ANC – has perfected producing nice-sounding solutions that don’t mean anything.
And the hard truth is that this is happening because our President is not a natural leader; and his party is too fractured and divided to produce leadership. He does not formulate opinions, or strategies, or solutions. He appoints committees to formulate these things, and then nothing happens once the talking is done.
But it is easy to criticise. Our responsibility is to continue showing the leadership the ANC and the President no longer can.
And we already have. Just look at us today. We are also having a “Mangaung conference”. Some of us here today will lose. And some of us will win. The process will be democratic, transparent and legitimate.
Nobody will be bribed for their support. Nobody will be victimised.
Nobody will be fired once the election is done. We will emerge stronger, more united, more determined – and more diverse by the way – no matter what.
In the ANC, when you lose an election, you’re kicked out of the party.
We will never let an internal election compromise our values and our ability to represent our supporters or lead the country.
But we are also showing that we can lead the country out of its problems, if elected into national government.
We will not only talk about a youth wage subsidy, but will actually implement one; just like we’re already doing in the Western Cape.
We will not only talk about beating corruption, but will actually implement a law to stop politicians and government employees from doing business with government; just like we’re already doing in the Western Cape.
We will not only talk about better education, we’ll actually deliver schools to textbooks on time and get the matric pass rate higher; just like we’re doing in the Western Cape.
We will not only talk about beating unemployment, we will actually create the jobs needed to improve people’s lives; just like we’re doing in the Western Cape – where unemployment is the lowest in the country.
The ANC is the party of talking; and we are the party of doing!
And in the last few weeks the ANC has been doing some very destructive talking.
So let me say it clearly:
We will improve people’s lives with jobs, education and opportunities and not with violence!
We will not tolerate Julius Malema, or anyone else, who wishes to incite violence and break down national unity!
We will lead by example, by making the tough decisions, going to the dangerous places and by doing the right thing!
So let’s go out there and take that message to every corner of this province and the country. I know we can be successful, because South Africans want constructive solutions to make things better. So now it is our responsibility to represent that alternative to them. Let’s go out there and do just that.
I thank you.
Issued by the DA, September 15 2012