CRY THE BELOVED PROVINCE

Jack Bloom

Leader DA Gauteng Caucus

In this year’s State of the Province debate in Gauteng I recalled the very first address by then-Premier Tokyo Sexwale in 1994.

He said he wanted “to talk about bread and butter, not bullets and guns”.

He asked “who needs the frigates that we are told are supposed to be bought to patrol the seas?”

He also promised 150 000 houses would be built in the first year.

It didn’t happen, but the sincere good intentions were refreshing.

It was an exciting time of hope, of possibility.

But many in the present Gauteng provincial government seem to have lost the ideals they once had.

The rampant careerism and self-interest in the ANC today contrasts with the selfless example of our first president Nelson Mandela.

Alan Paton won a Nobel Prize in literature for his book “Cry the beloved country”.

When I think of Gauteng today I think it is “Cry the beloved province”.

It really could have been so much better without all the corruption and waste.

Without the bad attitudes and poor service of many government workers.

And without the false promises of politicians. As Alan Patron wrote: “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” We see instead the arrogance of power.

No party should ever claim that it has a natural right to rule forever.

The mandate to govern is given by the people. If their patience runs out, things can change very quickly.

We face today in our country a fork in the road.

We can muddle along as we currently do, with poorly implemented policies and ideological blinkers that hinder economic growth.

Or we can adopt what has worked in other countries and confront head on those forces that drag us back.

The proposals of the National Planning Commission by and large point us to the path of progress.

We see hints that realities are understood, as when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said recently that cadre deployment is nonsense and only the best people should be appointed in important state jobs.

He also said in August last year that labour laws would need to be relaxed in order to meet job creation targets.

Andile Lungisa of the National Youth Development Agency has blamed teacher unions for education failures and called for education to be declared an essential service so that teachers cannot strike.

We see too the conversion of Industrial Development Zones into Special Economic Zones with extra incentives, although still not enough to allow them to create jobs on a massive scale.

These are all signs that previously unimaginable things can change because they have to change.

There comes a time when what seems impossible actually becomes inescapable.

This will happen in Gauteng when people realise that those who govern care more about themselves than about them

It will happen when they realise that promises made are not fulfilled.

That food parcels at election time don’t substitute for quality health and education, and safety in the streets.

That businesses are not being assisted to create jobs so that people can uplift themselves.

When they realise this, the impossible will become inescapable, and the DA will rule Gauteng.

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