ANC’s ability to lead in collapse – Helen Zille

DA leader says the ruling party has become a collection of warring factions

Helen Zille

Nala shows how ANC have lost their way

Note to editors: This is an extract of a speech delivered at the DA’s 2012 Free State Congress.

It is a pleasure to speak at the DA’s Free State Congress in Mangaung-Bloemfontein today. It has been wonderful for me to go around the country this year and speak at party congresses and councils in every province. The DA is a vibrant, growing, diverse and energetic organisation. Our structures across the country, from Muizenberg to Musina and from Port Nolloth to Port Shepstone, are reporting positive growth in every community.

Over the last six weeks, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has campaigned across South Africa in our Growth and Jobs campaign. We have worked hard to put the stories of the millions of South Africans who are unemployed onto the national agenda, and to talk about our plans to grow the economy and create jobs.

And we’re just getting started. Ultimately, we aim to govern South Africa so that we can ensure that South Africa’s economy works for the many, not the few.

At the moment it is divided between insiders and outsiders. The insiders in our economy are those who use their political connections and “elite club status” to secure their access to top jobs, tenders, contracts and security. The outsiders have none of those things. It is for them that we get up each morning and work hard to make our democracy work and succeed, and it is to them that DA commits itself here today.

Colleagues, let us be clear in our purpose. The DA’s purpose is to build a non-racial alternative in South Africa that governs well and delivers a better life for all. We stand for redressing the injustices of the past, reconciling South Africans one to another, delivering opportunities and services; and representing all of South Africa’s diverse peoples. In short, redress, reconciliation, delivery and diversity.

In contrast to the growing strength of our purpose, we have witnessed the continuing collapse of the ANC’s ability to lead, govern and serve. A political movement with such a proud history of fighting injustice, which has had the privilege of being directed by some of the great leaders of world history – has lost its moral compass. The human rights that people like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu fought for under apartheid are a distant memory under the ANC of Jacob Zuma.

Now, the ANC is a collection of warring factions, all desperate to entrench their personal power, abusing the name of the people, using the state as a vehicle for patronage to reward those who keep them in power. And the nexus around which all of this is spinning is right here in Mangaung, where the ANC will elect its leadership in December.

I love the fact that the DA got to Mangaung first, to have a peaceful, positive (if hotly contested) leadership election.

The ANC’s Mangaung conference, and the destructive and distracting war inside the ANC that is preceding it, is revealing the ANC’s true colours. For the ANC, it is not about the people or the country, it is about staying in power at all costs.

We see power abuse intensifying; and corruption and cronyism proliferating.

Just a day or two ago, the National Treasury announced that it will stop all financial transfers to Nala municipality here in the Free State province because of its persistent breach of financial management laws and mismanagement of public funds. The Auditor General identified serious problems in the municipality way back in 2008. There were allegations of maladministration, flouting procurement processes, corruption and fraud – but none of the AG’s recommendations were ever implemented, and no one was ever held accountable.

Now, up to R120 million, the largest chunk of the council’s annual budget, will be held back by the Treasury because the municipality, which is governed by the ANC, cannot be trusted to manage the money honestly or correctly.

Nala municipality has repeatedly failed to comply with the Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations, it has not even submitted its financial statements for the last two years, and it has not tabled a budget for this financial year.

And who is the victim in all this? It is ordinary, mostly poor, South Africans, who must live the daily indignity of poverty and joblessness at the hands of a government whose policies and conduct are only making them progressively poorer. The truth is this: corrupt leaders make poor people poorer.

Our colleague in Parliament, David Ross MP, who is from here in the Free State, is onto this issue, and he will not let it go until everyone in Nala understands that it is not the Treasury who has let them down – it is their own elected government in Nala – the ANC, who has abused their money, abused their resources, and stolen their opportunities. They are poorer today for having voted for the ANC, plain and simple.

But the truth is that when the ANC, like any ruling party, feels confident that it will win regardless of what it does in government, then it is inevitable that the focus will not be on governing well and serving the people. Rather, the focus will inevitably be onpoliticians enriching themselves and staying in favour with party leadership,so that they can keep each other in power with access to the state’s resources. None of those things are good for voters, and we see the results right here in Nala, and across the country.

So when the ruling party betrays the people of Nala, the DA must be there to protect those people’s rights as citizens.But the people must also protect their own rights by voting for the DA. After all, the voters have the power through their vote

We must be the party thatchampions a workable model of a prosperous South Africa, — the opposite of the ANC, that is doing its best to make every province ungovernable..

We must champion the real issues that South Africans face every day – joblessness, poverty, lack of access to water and housing, and the inhibiting standard of basic education.

We are the party of the real issues.

Whatever the efforts to distract and deflect, the Democratic Alliance will stay vocal on the real issues, on behalf of all South Africans, and in pursuit of a better life for all.

Issued by the DA, September 15 2012

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