By James Masango, MPL:
It seems like it was just yesterday when I ran unopposed to become leader of the Democratic Alliance in Mpumalanga. As we close off another successful year as the province’s official opposition, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of our achievements in 2015.
My colleagues can attest to the fact that it has been a busy year for DA Mpumalanga. This year saw us hold a successful provincial congress where new leadership was elected and integrated seamlessly into the workings of the party. Other political parties are so fraught with corruption and infighting that to this day, they have not managed to even secure a date for their provincial congresses.
The DA saw unprecedented growth this year. Between May and October 2015, the DA’s membership grew by over 50% allowing us to grow in areas that many never thought we could reach. This is a clear sign that the people of Mpumalanga are ready to embrace the change that the DA will bring.
Earlier this year, Helen Zille, announced that she would not be standing for another term as Federal Leader after she had led the party for eight years. It was a shock to all of us but she was succeeded by the charismatic Mmusi Maimane who has brought a different energy into this new chapter of the Democratic Alliance.
In August this year, I returned from parliament to assume my position in the provincial legislature and I was pleased to find a party that was working hard and ready to serve its people. We embarked on a provincial tour, spreading the message of hope and DA’s vision for South Africa under the banner of #Vision2029. This tour led us to some of the most remote parts of the province where we saw how people who have been abandoned by the ruling party live in abject poverty with little to no access to basic services like water, sanitation and healthcare. This only entrenched our belief that the DA must grow even more to eventually become the governing party to ensure that every citizen of this province can live in an open opportunity society entrenched in the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity.
The DA has enjoyed huge amounts of support in all our provincial events, from the commemoration of national holidays to visits from our Federal Leader Mmusi Maimane, our Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip and our Deputy Federal Chairperson, Desiree van der Walt. We held a very successful march and received international recognition when we marched to the Legislature to defend women’s right to dress as they wish without being subjected to sexist remarks.
2015 has been an amazing journey and judging by the determination of Team DA Mpumalanga, we will conquer every challenge that 2016 throws our way.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Provincial Legislature and in the National Assembly for their unwavering support, hard work and perseverance. I’d also like to thank each and every councillor, activist and staff member who made this journey possible.
2016 will bring about its own unique set of challenges, one of them being the local government elections. If this year is anything to go by, I know that the DA is ready for election 2016 and we will continue to grow from strength to strength.
I wish each and every one of you a blessed festive season and a prosperous new year. May 2016 be an amazing year.