By Mmusi Maimane MP, Leader of the Democratic Alliance:
The following remarks were made by the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a public meeting in Majembeni, Bushbuckridge. The public meeting formed part of the Mpumalanga leg of the national Vision 2029 Tour. The Leader was joined by DA National Spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme MP, DA Mpumalanga Provincial Leader, James Masango MPL and DA Mpumalanga Provincial Chairperson, Jane Sithole MPL.
My fellow South Africans,
It has been wonderful travelling through Mpumalanga this weekend.
Your province is unbelievably beautiful. Its forests and mountains, valleys and rivers are magnificent. And it is truly a province of great attractions.
Not far from us today is the Kruger National Park, the world’s most famous game reserve. And Mpumalanga has the world’s third-deepest canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. And the world’s oldest caves, the Sudwala Caves.
Mpumalanga – this place where the sun rises – has so much potential. Your province is extremely fertile, able to produce a huge variety of fruits and other crops. And it is extremely rich in natural resources. Emalahleni is the biggest coal producer in Africa. And this province has some of the biggest power stations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Although a relatively small province in geography, Mpumalanga’s economy has great potential. It is a place where opportunities could be created for all its citizens. A province that should be prosperous and thriving.
Yet Mpumalanga’s potential is being held back by the performance of its government, led by Premier DD Mabuza who displays an extreme disregard for his people.
He presides over a provincial government that is extremely incompetent. They answer to him, not to you, the people. They serve him and themselves, not you, the people.
This is why you, the people of Mpumalanga, are not being delivered even the most basic of services.
This is the Energy Mecca of Africa, and yet over 340 000 people in Mpumalanga don’t have access to electricity at all.
We have a Constitution here in South Africa. It’s the most important document our country has ever produced. It is printed in a little book that fits in your pocket. I carry one with me wherever I go. And it is so important because it explains exactly how our country is meant to be run.
Our Constitution doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter who sits in the president’s office, or which party governs which provinces – the Constitution is a constant reminder of what the government’s responsibilities are, and what your rights are.
At the DA, we fight very hard to protect this Constitution, because the Constitution is the only thing that can protect us, the people of South Africa, from a bad government.
Of all the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, one right stands out as the most basic and fundamental of them all: the right to water. Our Constitution says that every person in South Africa is guaranteed the right to be able to access clean water.
And yet, there are many communities in this province who have had to go for months on end without water.
I am told that there is a well within walking distance from here where the people of this community must fetch their water, putting their families’ lives at risk through exposure to disease. Citizens should not be forced to live like this.
We call things like water, sanitation and electricity “basic services” because those are the things a government must get right first. These are the non-negotiable things a government must provide.
Your government here – and in many municipalities throughout Mpumalanga doesn’t do this. And do you know why they don’t do it? It is because they follow the example of your premier, DD Mabuza. And he, in turn, follows the example of our president, Jacob Zuma.
These men use their positions of power to look after themselves first, their families second and their friends third. Communities such as yours – the people they were elected to serve – are just not their priority.
Premier Mabuza runs this province like it’s his own little kingdom. He is untouchable inside the ANC, and so he does just what he wants here. Those who stand up to him get themselves fired.
He has been linked to many charges of corruption here in Mpumalanga, with some of these allegations going back to when he was the MEC for agriculture. He and his cronies are accused of buying up land and then selling it back to the government for up to ten times the price.
For people like DD Mabuza, the position of Premier is not about leading and serving the people of the province. For him it’s about using his position of power to enrich himself.
When leaders are corrupt, they steal money which should be used to deliver water, electricity to all. This is not fair.
When leaders are corrupt, public servants in municipalities tend to start behaving the same way as leaders higher up. They think, if DD Mabuza can do it, then so can we. So they also steal the money which is meant for service delivery. And they also give jobs and contracts in return for money and political favours. This is not fair.
The sad thing about this is that corruption kills not only service delivery, but also economic activity. How can an economy function without water and electricity?
When you kill economic activity, you kill job opportunities. DD Mabuza has stolen not only your money, but your jobs. And opportunities. And therefore he has stolen hope. Hope for a better future.
President Zuma knows exactly what DD Mabuza is doing in Mpumalanga. But he is not going to do anything about it. Because he needs DD Mabuza’s political support.
President Zuma has sold Mpumalanga to DD Mabuza. DD Mabuza and the other two members of the “Premier League” – Ace Magashule of the Free State and Supra Mahumapelo of the North West – give President Zuma the political support he needs to stay in power and out of jail.
No, President Zuma cannot help you. There is only one person who can help you now and that is you. In the local elections next year, you can begin the process of firing DD Mabuza by voting him out of power.
We need a new beginning in Mpumalanga. A new day filled with hope for a better tomorrow. We need the sun to rise on Mpumalanga again.
DD Mabuza is not the kind of man you want to lead your province, and the only way to replace him is with your vote.
We need a government in your province that will deliver basic services and job opportunities.
We need a government that will bring back hope and light to the people of this beautiful, abundant province.
We need a government that strives for freedom and fairness and opportunity in Mpumalanga.
The DA can be that government. When we select Premier candidates, we do so on the basis of merit: we elect the person that will best be able to deliver services and create job opportunities. That is why our selection processes are competitive, transparent and open.
We elect premier candidates that will lead honest, hard-working governments that will do everything it can to deliver for you.
Governments that display zero tolerance for corruption.
Governments that in turn appoint officials because they are the best candidates for the job, not because they are connected to whoever is in power and can do a Premier’s bidding.
Governments that run open tender adjudication processes so that the public have confidence in the process and the fact that service providers appointed are the best there are to be able to effect service delivery.
The DA runs government like this because we knows that if we don’t deliver, you will vote us out. Because elections should be performance assessments. If you haven’t delivered, you should be voted out. If you have delivered, have not made empty promises and work for the people, you should be kept in government.
Only you, the true owners of Mpumalanga, can bring this kind of change to your province.
You have the power and that power lies in your vote.
You can start to bring change next year in next year’s municipal elections by voting for the DA.
Change that removes the enemy of hope that is DD Mabuza.
Change that stops corruption.
Change that stops unfairness.
Change that gets delivery going and creates job opportunities.
The power is in your hands.