DA leader John Steenhuisen addressing the DA’s virtual rally. (Screen grab)
- The DA doesn’t want a postponement of the 27 October local government elections, claiming that other parties are not ready for the polls.
- The party had its “Time for Change” virtual rally on Saturday.
- The change it wants to deliver appears to centre mostly on its track record in the municipalities it governs.
Postponing the 27 October elections? The DA will have none of that, the party’s leader John Steenhuisen said.
After a tough week for the party, the DA had its much-hyped Time for Change virtual rally on Saturday.
In his address, Steenhuisen said: “We have our eyes firmly set on a target, and that target is 27 October. Nothing will deter us.
“But not everyone seems to share this urgency and this eagerness to go to the polls in October. Our opponents are trying their best to wriggle their way out of it.
“They’re either simply not prepared for this campaign, or they fear what voters might say to them on the day. And so they talk about postponing, and they make up excuses.
“But we will have none of that. The DA is marching confidently towards 27 October, ready for the challenge and the contest. We started our preparations a long time ago, when others were still asleep, and we are ready to take our message to South Africans in every community across the country.”
This past week, the Electoral Commission of South Africa announced that former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke would lead a process to “review whether current conditions are conducive or not to hold free and fair elections”.
The EFF has consistently called for the postponement of the elections.
Before Steenhuisen spoke, DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille was in a studio talking to the virtual rally’s presenters, saying she was “so stoked” about the virtual event.
On the topic of postponing the elections, Zille said: “We should be saying ‘no’ because we have a Constitution to defend.”
“We know very well the ANC and EFF are not ready for the elections,” Zille claimed.
She said they were cynically abusing the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are being conned; the DA is the only party to see through it.
Not shying away from the much-derided optics of the rally’s announcement, Steenhuisen again spoke in front of masked people in blue shirts waving flags and holding posters calling for change.
“South Africa needs this election this year because change cannot wait,” Steenhuisen said.
Steenshuisen said this year’s elections were critical because millions of South Africans “have been left to fend for themselves – to find their own water, to clean up their own sewage, to cook without electricity, to do all the things their local government was employed to do”.
“Once every five years, they get to do a performance review of their local government. And if they’re not satisfied with what they’ve seen, they can say to their government: ‘You had your chance to do your job. In fact, you had many chances, but you blew it. And now we’re firing you because there must be consequences for failure’,” Steenhuisen said.
“That’s how you bring change.”
The change the DA promises seem to primarily be based on its track record in the municipalities it governs.
“The poverty that has swept across our country, ruining lives and ripping families apart, should offend and anger each and every one of us.
“That is our crisis. That is our number one enemy. That’s what stands in the way of our progress as a nation. And it is a crisis so big and so daunting that our government doesn’t even know where to start fixing it. Or how,” Steenhuisen said.
“Our economic landscape has to change. It has to be reformed, but not in the way government wants to do it.”
He said the only meaningful way to reform the economy was to lift millions of South Africans out of poverty and into jobs and opportunity – “to give them a stake in their own future and the ability to build for themselves a life of dignity and independence”.
“Fellow democrats, our party is the one that has to make this change,” Steenhuisen said.
He claimed only the DA understood that “economic growth and job creation have to trump all other priorities and ideologies if we want to beat poverty”.
Only the DA stands for values that protect and advance the rights of all the people of South Africa and not only a certain group. Only the DA respects the sanctity of public money and doesn’t tolerate corruption and mismanagement of funds. Only the DA is committed to building a capable, fit-for-purpose state.
“And, importantly, only the DA has already been handed a mandate, by voters, in metros and municipalities to demonstrate how it would govern differently from the ANC. And this has given us a track record of excellence that no other party can claim.”
He said the five best-run municipalities in South Africa are all governed by the DA, as is the best-run metro and province.
“That’s not my opinion – that’s according to independent audits and rankings,” he added.
“This doesn’t mean these places are perfect. We know that there are still many challenges we need to solve and areas we need to improve on. But it is a matter of undisputed fact that where the DA governs, citizens are better off and have a better chance of living a life of opportunity and dignity.”
The virtual rally came after a tough week for the DA: their by-elections results were again disappointing, a Cape Town councillor was charged for alleged money laundering and high profile MP Phumzile van Damme resigned her seat in the National Assembly.