Newly elected DA leader’s warning to Zuma

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 11, 2015

Newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, has said that the party will stay true to its core values and “work tirelessly to create a fairer society”.

Speaking shortly after securing a landslide victory over the party’s Federal Chairperson Wilmot James during yesterday’s elective conference in Port Elizabeth, Maimane, who also becomes the DA’s first black leader since its formation, said that the party’s growth from a mere 1.7% in 1994 to becoming the official opposition under outgoing leader Helen Zille, has been something short of remarkable but that the challenge is far from over.

“We will show South Africa that, when Nelson Mandela died, his dream of a rainbow nation did not die with him. We need to be able to connect with every South African who shares our values [of Freedom, fairness and opportunity] but does not yet vote for us,” he told delegates at the Boardwalk Convention centre.

“We need to overcome racial, cultural, religious and economic barriers and build one nation, with one future. We can transcend race. But this can only happen if every South African acknowledges the injustices of apartheid; and it can only happen if we all recognise that the racial inequality of the past remains with us today.”

Maimane stated that the party will “stay committed” to providing basic services such as water, electricity and education as well as job creation, adding that unemployment, especially under the youth, has reached a point where it could no longer be ignored.

“As a party we are quick to get angry about the sustained attack on our constitution and our institutions. But we must be equally angry at the insider-outsider economic policies that have trapped too many of our people in poverty for far too long,” he said.

“We must structure the economy so that young people have opportunities to start small businesses, an economy where we leverage state owned enterprises as skills incubators by offering apprenticeships. We need a job-creating labour regime where trade unions protect their members, but not at the expense of keeping unemployed people locked out of the economy”.

Discussing his vision for the party, Maimane said that race based votes continues to have an effect and that convincing electorates of foregoing the DA’s image of a mainly white organisation won’t be easy.

“I want it to be the story of how the DA challenged for power at a national level and won. I want it to be the story of a party that was victorious because it stayed true to its values. I want it to be the story of how a non-racial party built a political home for all South Africans. ‘n Samelewing waar jou toekoms nie bepaal word deur die kleur van jou vel nie (I want it to be a society where your future is not dependant on the colour of your skin).

“It will be difficult because our goal is to win support from voters of all races, at the very moment that racial mobilisation is on the rise. Those who mobilise on race have no interest in building our nation. Their goal is to break down the constitutional democracy that so many great South Africans painstakingly built,” Maimane said.

Taking a swipe at President Jacob Zuma, Maimane said that the party will continue its approach of defending the Constitution as “nobody is above the law”.

“We must ensure that everyone is equal before the law. We must continue to pursue our legal battles against the powerful and the corrupt. So President Zuma, if you are watching, please note: we are still coming for you. Make no mistake Mr President, you will have the day in court you have been asking for,” he said.

Referring to next year’s election, Maimane stated that the party will “work tirelessly” and together as a team in an attempt to “serve the people, not the other way around”.

“We must and we will win power in our lifetime. We will be the next government of this beautiful country,” he said.