Friends and fellow Democrats of KwaZulu-Natal

It’s a great honour and privilege for me to stand before you and convey my warm greetings and welcome you all to the KZN DA Congress 2012.

* Namukelekile, zizweni nisekhaya

* You are welcome and please feel at home

* Jy is welkom en voel aseblief tuis

* Namkelekile ziveni nisekhaya, nikhululi iibhatyi

I am so grateful that my father (Vincent Mthumeli), my sisters Hlengiwe and Zinhle and my brother Msizi, are here today. I am deeply saddened that my mother, who would have also loved to be here, went to her place of eternal rest 5 years ago.

The previous year has been somewhat hectic. It is necessary to echo the KZN DA’s good wishes to all our brothers and sisters of Indian origin, who celebrated 150 years since the settlement of the indentured Indian labourers to South Africa. Again, last year was the year when his majesty King Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu celebrated 40 years of reign as the King of the Zulu nation, and indeed we delivered our good wishes to Isilo Samabandla. Again I say we wish the King everything of the best as he continues to play his crucial role within our society. BAYEDE HLANGA LOMHLABATHI.

Last month (February), marked 10 years since my dear friend and one of our colleagues – Sibusiso Makhathini was brutally gunned down, after exposing crime in the area of Sweetwaters around Pietermaritzburg. His memories and his patriotism for South Africa and love for the DA still shines in my mind. His legacy and commitment to our course will never be forgotten, he remains in my mind, not just a hero who died for our cause, but a significant contributor to the history that we are re-writing. Makhathini was amongst a few black candidates across the country that featured prominently in their wards and pulled almost the highest number of black votes. It was through his performance in the 2000 Local Government Elections that he earned himself a seat as a DA councilor in uMgungundlovu District Municipality… despite the fact that he had single handedly put up his election posters around his ward through the use of a wheel barrow.

That particular month was such a sad time for us, as young black activists of the DA around the then Midlands region. One of our first and long serving black female employees and youth activist – Lindiwe Mabaso also passed on in that same week – in fact a day after Sibusiso’s death. Some of you might also remember another terrible incident that confronted us about 5 years after Sibusiso Makhathini’s death, another female activist in Impendle, Tholakele Zungu, was brutally murdered in her sleep in her back yard bedroom.

During this period a lot of us were constantly attacked and chased out of our communities, across the province. It was indeed around the same period that a lot of our members and activists across the province lost hope and feared for their lives thus disassociating themselves from the DA.

I am citing these incidents since I believe that we sometimes need to look back at the road we have travelled and honour those heroes who fell along this journey. The list of heroes is indeed long. How can one forget people like the late Rudi Heiny, Cllr John Green, Cllr Peter Barnard, COM Fanie Scriven and others.

At this point, I wish to get to deal with a part that usually comes towards the end – in the usual manner of delivering speeches. I want to take the time to convey my unreserved admiration to each and every one of you for your roles played in our election process – whether as a supporter, activist, branch chairperson, then sitting councilor, candidate, member of the electoral college, member of the selection panel or constituency head etc. During this period, there were many occasions where the dedication and commitment that was demonstrated by all the people that assisted us in one way or the other was unbelievable. Electoral colleges and selection panels travelled distances and sat for long meetings across the province, in almost all 52 local municipalities, 10 District Municipalities and the metro. Indeed I was really touched by the voluntary commitment and dedication displayed by all those that participated or were involved in those structures.

There are a couple of our long serving councilors that took retirement and those that did not make it back for whatever reason. I wish to thank all of them for the role they played for the DA and our voters. It is during their tenure that we emerged from being just an opposition party to being a party of government in certain parts of the country and thus their legacy will always be regarded as the rigid foundation on which we embed our commitment to providing the people of KwaZulu-Natal with a viable and tested political alternative. To all those heroes and heroines, I wish to assure them that we will never fail them – the DA or our voters – and we will always acknowledge them as the giants that have lifted us onto their shoulders so as to allow us to see further.

You will also be aware that during the course of last year, we also went through an exercise of MP/MPL strategic swop, which saw Mark Steele joining the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Caucus and John Steenhuisen moving to the National Assembly. It is with pleasure that I also congratulate both John and Mark on their new political roles and indeed I have observed that they have both settled well in their new duties. I am also glad to report that our former MP – Rafeek Shah is back in the political battle ring, as he has been appointed to replace the retired former MP – Mike Ellis. Well come back Rafeek.

To all those that were selected to represent us in various wards across the province and were not elected to councils, I humble myself before you and thank you wholeheartedly for being true ambassadors of our cause and for the great campaigns that you ran and thus being consistent in spreading our message to the people of KwaZulu-Natal. Indeed in some areas, being a DA candidate was like making yourself a target – inviting both emotional and physical attacks. I am aware of instances where our candidates were attacked, our election material destroyed, activists chased away from their communities, and candidates or activists being insulted and threatened. I am thankful to God that in spite of all these attacks and insults endured by our candidates or activists that there was never a life lost. I sometime felt extremely helpless and depressed as I was driving across this province and kept receiving messages about our people being attacked, our political activities being invaded and disrupted by hooligans and our people being intimidated as they distributed election materials etc.

Once again my heartfelt appreciation goes to all those that stood as candidates for us and did not make it as councilors. You have laid the foundation for the Democratic Alliance, you have delivered our message, you have shown people that we are a party of discipline and respect for the rule of law and the people have seen and heard you. The message you delivered still remains in their minds and thus in due course we will win those wards.

I also wish to congratulate those elected as councilors across the province. In this province we produced lists that were by far the most diverse and thus today our councilors or caucuses reflect exactly our commitment to diversity in all aspects. I am aware that over 95% of our councilors in the province have attended the training sessions that have been rolled out by ADAC, thus I can proudly assume that every one of our councilors understand clearly what their roles are both to the DA and the community, and that you have reaffirmed your commitment to attain the highest possible standards of performance. I wish each and every one of our councilors well as they begin the journey to represent our voters and reach out to new areas of potential growth, and advocate our vision for KwaZulu- Natal. As I congratulate you all, I also wish to point out that as the party continues to improve the PDMS system, to make it more user friendly that non-performance has no place in the DA. We will be strict and ensure that non-performance is not tolerated at all within this party. This is the least we can do for our voters and donors.

To all members of both the PMC and PEC, thank you very much for dedicating your precious family time to our course. Our meetings took place sometimes at awkward places and times and often ran on for long. Some of the members of these bodies had to travel long distances to attend meetings. I remain indebted to all of you. Our staff continued to marshal our operations and ensured that all our activities were of high standard and they also had to work exceptionally long hours. Unfortunately, in certain instances, they had to deal with unnecessary demands from candidates and politicians. We know that more than this just being a job for you, it because of your love of the DA and what we stand for, that you have loyally remained with us. You are our behind the scenes heroes. I also want to mention my appreciation and best wishes to Michael Beaumont and Carol Hall, provincial and deputy directors, respectively – for the sterling job they performed, sometimes under very trying times. You will be aware that Mike Beaumont took a position as the provincial director for the party’s strategic province for 2014 and thus I wish him every best of luck in his new post.

LGE 2011 I am very glad that I have been able to attend a number of meetings across the province, with the provincial leadership to listen and interact with constituencies around our overall performance during the election campaign. Almost all constituencies within the province welcomed the opportunity to engage the provincial leadership and were also very constructive in their critique of the election campaign. Indeed through this process of interaction with our structures, we have been able to put together a document that captures clearly the views of the structures of the party in this regard and also guide the processes of strategic planning for 2014, and beyond.

We put up almost 150 000 posters, including the face posters with Helen, Lindiwe and Patricia, slogan posters saying ‘We deliver for all’ and individual candidate posters, all in English, Afrikaans and isiZulu. Our posters and the slogans were well received by the public and I am convinced they had a big impact on the voters, especially in isiZulu speaking areas. We distributed over four million leaflets, including two million in isiZulu, one to almost every isiZulu speaking household in the province. This is a very effective form of communication in an election campaign and it is the first time we have ever communicated with voters on such a large scale in areas that have not historically supported us. The effectiveness of the isiZulu leaflet was demonstrated when our tracking polls showed that the support from this community increased by one third or 21 000 votes in the three day period following its distribution.

Media wise we enjoyed very good coverage, especially in debates and talk shows on local vernacular radio stations. On certain days when a couple of our representatives spoke, there was a noticeable spike in the tracking polls particularly among isiZulu voters. I travelled the length and breadth of the province during the campaign and the areas that I visited in the last week of the campaign showed a definite increase in support. Hundreds of ‘blue wave’ campaigns and cavalcades took place throughout the province, particularly in the last two weeks, when we ‘painted the province blue’. We distributed about 15 000 t-shirts and large quantities of flags, placards, badges and banners. This is a very effective way of getting our message across, especially among rural voters. The DA t-shirt continues to be a most sought-after fashion item.

Over 160 000 voters were canvassed and captured onto our revolutionary VRM (Voter Relationship Management) system. About half of the calling was done from our national call centre in Cape Town and the balance was from calls and door-to-door visits in KZN. This very traditional form of campaigning is still the best way to reach voters on a face to face basis, and its importance was reaffirmed in this campaign.

Almost 5 000 volunteers turned out around the province to assist on Election Day, many of whom worked in the months leading up to it. The cost of transport and refreshments for these assistants, especially in the rural and indigent areas, was a major challenge, and will be one of the main focuses of constituency fund raising in the build up to 2014. In a post election survey almost all of these helpers said they would assist in the next election, but unfortunately thousands of party agents and a far larger ‘blue wave’ presence is required to prevent the intimidation of our voters, especially in the rural areas, on election day. RESULTS 1. KZN achieved 343 956 votes or 12.3% of the vote. 2. This is a percentage increase of 90.1% on 2006 (180 940). 3. We achieved record levels of support in all minority areas, the best in our history, and the best among the provinces. 4. We quadrupled our vote among voters who did not support us in the past, winning 2.7% of the vote, compared to 1.7% in 2006. 5. Our priority is to break into these areas, but it is more difficult in KZN where we have a five-way fight and not a three-way fight, like in the rest of the country. 6. This can also be seen as an opportunity, as we have two million voters in this province who did not vote for the ANC, and when the IFP and NFP go the way of Cope, KZN will lead the way. 7. We increased our number of councilors in eThekwini to 43. 8. In Hibiscus Coast we took three wards away from the ANC, in an ANC stronghold area, where the speaker of the municipality resides. We took a ward away from the ANC in Harding, an area where we have never had a councilor. 9. In Sisonke, we grew from 3 to 9 councilors, with 262% growth since 2006. 10. We took a total of ten wards off the ANC in KZN, four in IOS, four in Pietermaritzburg and two in eThekwini, where we also took one off the Minority Front. 11. North Coast grew from one ward councilor to four, where we also have six PR councilors and one district councilor. 12. We also showed amazing growth in isiZulu areas where we had active members who went into the areas and resolved issues. Our best example is Cottonlands outside Durban, where Chris Langa, our DA activist of the year at Federal Congress in 2010, achieved over 32% of the vote in a purely isiZulu ward. 13. In Mphophomeni outside Howick, a no-go area in the eighties, we achieved 29% of the vote in a 100% isiZulu ward. These are the second and third highest figures for the DA in the country in our non-traditional support areas, which bodes well for KZN. Helen will recall dancing with the ANC in Mphophomeni during the campaign! 14. In the Kokstad area of Shayamoya Township – where Helen visited, after local residents had written to us requesting that we come and see the conditions that they were leaving under – we increased from 60 to 1000 votes.

It is still my belief that it’s not an accident that the best democrats in the DA are concentrated here in KwaZulu-Natal. It is because we are needed here most! Unlike other provinces where only the DA competes with the ANC for historical ANC voters, here in KwaZulu-Natal we have very tough and tight political contestation, due to a large number of political parties being centered and concentrated here. As we are all aware, the formation of the New Freedom Party of Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi posed a challenge for us as we had hoped to draw more young people from the IFP towards us, but the NFP came as an alternative for some of these young people. That is a challenge but, in my opinion, it is also an opportunity for us. Once voters switch, they can switch again, and we must be there to capitalise.

Our political adversaries are far more numerous than in other provinces. Intimidation and intolerance is worse, and liberal democrats are few and far between. Only “bravehearts” driven by values and principles succeed. But, fellow democrats of KZN, succeed we did. We increased our share of the votes and even went as far as drawing 99% of votes amongst the white population of KZN – the top performance of any DA province. In short, we polled extra votes and achieved record support and turnout levels amongst voters who have traditionally supported the DA.

We bravely took the fight to the ANC, IFP and NFP, particularly in our LEAD/SIYASEBENZA areas, and we crushed both the ANC and MF to recapture the Indian vote. We scooped wards off the ANC and in doing so we far exceeded our own operational targets.

So, well done on behalf of every democrat in KZN, to each and every person responsible for this success.

Much remains to be done. But we have not just survived our toughest fight yet again in the heartland of President Zuma’s home province. We have grown.

The challenges going forward remain immense. If we are to offer an alternative political home to the millions of voters who are seeing their parties, the IFP, MF and NFP, crumble into ethnic regional shadows, or if we are to take the battle directly to the ANC, then we have to make a quantum shift in our thinking and approach. We need to explore ways to campaign among and communicate with the majority of our voters on a sustainable and continuous basis, not just a handful. We have just less than two years to make an impact, and we have committed people to launch this drive into our new front line. It is a historic moment, and once again KZN will be the trailblazers. I for one do not shrink from this challenge – I welcome it.

I first got involved with this party when it was the DP in 1996 and when I look back, it is hard to believe how much we have grown and still continue to prosper. We have made significant inroads across all communities. Indeed we can no longer go back and make a brand new start, but we can and we will start from now and make a brand new ending. One of the most tragic things about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.

The opportunities out there are much more favorable to us. It has become evident that the people of KZN are looking for a credible, tested and strong alternative. The other opposition parties in this province spend most of their time in closed boardrooms, as they battle to make themselves relevant and resonate with the voters and indeed on the other hand the ANC is seen as a corrupt and self-centered party. The allegations of corruption leveled against senior members of the ANC in this province i.e Mike Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni have become issues that dominate breakfasts, lunches and dinner tables. The recent election of former deputy Mayor of Msunduzi (Alpha Shelembe) to the position of Regional Chairperson, despite still facing allegations of corruption, leaves more questions with no answers.

The cabinet reshuffling is a clear indication of the ANC’s arrogance and neglect of the public opinion. MEC’s such as Mike Mabuyakhulu, Meshack Hadebe and KZN Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni are being allowed to retain their comfortable executive positions, despite the public outcry for the removal of these individuals. Clearly Premier Zweli Mkhize used the cabinet reshuffling as a platform to alienate those that are alleged to be critical of his leadership of the ANC in this province.

Sooner than we anticipated, the people of this province have realized that the choice is between the ANC’s cadre deployment policy and the DA’s fitness for purpose approach. The likes of the IFP, NFP, MF and COPE are just not part of the equation. The MF poses a new opportunity for us. The emergence of the NFP as a breakaway group of the IFP is an indication that when they were in government, corruption was also high and they have dismally failed to catch up with the modern age. We, the DA are the only alternative and the electorate is ready for us, we must therefore seize the opportunity. We in the DA in KZN have successfully managed to draw a very clear distinction between ourselves and the ANC. While the ANC is rooted in cadre deployment we have spoken of diversity and fitness for purpose as ideal alternative solutions.

Fellow KZN democrats, everyone in our party is special because no-one is more special than another. No-one has a right to demand special treatment due to the colour of their skin, nor should they be entitled to preferential treatment on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender or anything else. In this party, what must count is not the colour of your skin, but the content of your character. That does not mean that we are insensitive to diversity – far from it. There are countless ways of achieving greatness, but any road to achieving one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity……………And that’s the only way it should ever be…………….

Quote , Tony Leon : “The DA is a party for blacks, but not only for blacks The DA is a party for whites, but not only for whites The DA is a party for coloureds, but not only for coloureds The DA is a party for Indians, but not only for Indians”

On the 05th June 2011, The Party’s provisional strategic objectives for Election 2014 were adopted by Federal Council and are as follows:

* To retain the Western Cape with an outright majority;

* To become the biggest party in Gauteng;

* To double our share of the black vote;

* To maintain our share of the CWI vote and where feasible, increase it; and

* To entrench our position as the biggest opposition party to the ANC and grow our share of the national vote to 30%

The DA currently has 669 (six hundred and sixty nine) ward councillors. This means that we have to strengthen the operational ground war team in the vast majority of the 3608 wards across South Africa where we do not have ward councillors. Our Province in consultation with constituencies and concurrence of the Federal Office has identified communities which require the establishment of a permanent presence, the process of which will be managed by dedicated community operations managers (COMS). It will also require the implementation of the criteria that successfully led to an increased number of votes in targeted wards and to take note of areas of concern around the implementation of the Ward Coordinator programme.

It is against this background that I strongly believe that our municipal caucuses understand that they are;

* a political component/wing of the party in a municipality * a the face of the DA in that municipality and thus it is required

* to carry the mandate of the DA as imposed by our voters * lobby and advocate for DA policies and principles * represent the interests of DA voters within their area of jurisdiction * protect the integrity of the DA, etc

It is again on the basis of the above points that every member of a caucus must understand that he/she is a member of the DA first before the caucus and thus every caucus should always seek to forge a smooth working relationship with the provincial political and operational structures.

Indeed, as a political party we need to continue to grow, hence our fundamental responsibility is always to win votes. It is therefore paramount for any caucus of the DA to always seek to advance and partake in provincial political or vote winning activities of the party. We seriously need to make inroads into new areas of potential growth and thus every caucus is expected in both its conduct and utterances to seek to attain that particular goal. Any caucus of the DA is also expected to reflect the new/transformed DA, where our message of an open opportunity society for all is the basis for all our operations. Diversity does not need to be something that we only talk about but it has to be something that we honor, live by, acknowledge and embodied on us.

Simply put “the role of any caucus within the DA is as entrenched in our Federal and Provincial constitution and Local Government manifesto, and thus it is upon each and every elected public representative of the DA to ensure that the DA continues to be the brand that all South Africans can associate themselves with.”

Friends, I have never been this positive about being part of the DA in this province. Looking at what we have achieved, I feel rejuvenated further. Listen to this and tell me if this is not a reason for one to be excited,

* ##Congratulations to Lindiwe on her election as the DA’s Parliamentary leader## * Had we been the Government, almost all our delegates to the National Assembly would have been in cabinet….. All our MP’s are part of the DA’s shadow cabinet.

* Dianne Kohler-Barnard – Police * Greg Krumbock – Deputy Economic Development * Gareth Morgan – Environmental and Water Affairs * John Steenhuisen – Co-operative Governance * Sandy Kalyan – Deputy Chief Whip * Haniff Hoosen – Economic Development

* Directors : Penny, Johan Van Der Berg, Greg Krumbock and the CEO

Colleagues, allow me to take this opportunity and convey my sincere appreciation to both the Provincial Management and Provincial Executive Committees. Without the support and motivation that I had from you colleagues, I would have not survived. It is because of you that I say If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. We sometime held our meetings at awkward times and always had almost hundred percent attendance. We have collectively risen above challenges that confronted us. We have always strived to take decisions by consensus. We have always remained focused and constantly reminded each other that the DA is bigger than our own personal egos.

I do also wish to thank each and everyone of you for the trust and faith you bestowed on me, to lead this party in this province. I am a stronger believer in the saying “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality..” and without any doubt you all made it easy for me to realize that indeed we share a common vision that of “ONE NATION – ONE FUTURE” thus our focus was towards the realization of this vision.

To my Legislature caucus members and staff, I thank you for all the support that I have enjoyed from you. You remain the best team that I have ever had to lead. Indeed we have differed from time to time on certain matters however the sense of collegiality has always prevailed. We have successfully occupied the space of being an alternative/government in waiting for KwaZulu-Natal, through our continued collective efforts of setting the new political agenda.

I do want to single out few individuals that have played critical roles in my life in this journey.

Francois Rodgers, my constituency chairperson…besides being just an outstanding constituency chairperson, you have became a good friend. You and I have travelled the length and breadth of Sisonke, in our quest to make the DA a party of hope for all. Your creative thinking and willingness to go an extra mile has always amazed me. Your handling of our constituency affairs, allowed me time to be all over the province and yet we still managed to grow our support base significantly. Thank you for understanding that my duties extended beyond the borders of our constituency.

To my dear friend, Greg Krumbock, I want to specifically thank you for the motivation, inspiration and support you have given to me in this journey. You are a man of clear principles and strong values. You have indeed been a pillar of strength to me. You have under very trying times, remained focused, dedicated and showed no willingness to compromise on the party’s course. Let me share these words with you Greg “The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.” And I do not at all mean that I have surpassed you in any way…

As I pointed out earlier that my father and family are amongst us today, I do wish to take this opportunity and thank them for the support they have always given me. Some of you will know that my journey has never been an easy one and to a large extent my family have been on the receiving hand. I have had very life compromising incidents and my family has been attacked several times but not even once they ever asked me to leave the DA. Instead their love of this party has grown day-by-day and incident by incident.

I would not have done justice if I were to leave this podium without conveying my thanks to all our staff. Friends, you have been and continue to be reliable engines for our course. Without you we would have not achieved all that I have mentioned. The setup here today in indeed a reflection of the extra efforts you put giving us a professional image.

Fellow democrats allow me to conclude by sharing this quote by Henry Ford where he says “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Imiphumela yokhetho ikutshengisile ukuthi siyiqembu elidlondlobala ngesivinin. Siyingola emasondondo, siyinsimbi engagobi, siyizingadlangadla ezingeyeku phazanyiswa. Singomakhonya …

I thank you…

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