Speech at the UDM rally at the UDM Manifesto Launch at the Johannesburg Expo Centre (24 January 2009)

'The Programme Director
UDM National Chairperson
Deputy President
Secretary General
Your Excellencies
High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Honoured Guests
Viewers at home
UDM National Executive Committee Members
UDM Members of Parliament
UDM Members of Provincial Legislatures
UDM Councillors
UDM Members
Ladies and Gentlemen

I welcome each of you. We are grateful for your presence, especially the SABC which is assisting us with a live broadcast of this event. We are beginning to reap the rewards of what we have been campaigning for, namely the levelling of the playing field.

The UDM members you see here today represent some of our branches from the nine provinces of the country. We have just finished a plenary session where we have deliberated on our election manifesto and reviewed our programme of action until the elections.

The selection of candidates to represent the UDM in Parliament and the provincial legislatures will be finalised by the end of February.

I can confidently say that we are fully prepared and ready to contest these elections.

I would like to welcome the new members of the UDM who have joined us from other parties in the past 12 months. Your participation and experience has already contributed to our growth.

I want to extend a special word of thanks to the UDM National office staff. Ladies and gentlemen, the work you see here was done in-house. Thank you Jana, you deserve a big applause.

A special word of thanks goes to our National Treasurer, Mrs Nontenja, who has been saving money for this day. We are unlike other parties who have access to slush-funds. Mama Nilo, a UDM veteran, your motherly support is always appreciated by all in the UDM. Thank you.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
we are gathered here today to launch the UDM election manifesto. We will also give you some insight into why you should vote for the UDM in the forthcoming elections.

The UDM is a political home for all South Africans and our leadership is committed to decency, integrity, and respect for you and our democratic institutions.

However, before I start talking about the UDM, I first want to talk about you – the voter.

A question I have been asked by many voters is: “What is the value of my vote?”

It is a question that has even been asked by such a champion of democracy as retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Today, instead of you asking me that, I would like to ask each of you that: “What is the value of your vote?”

I ask because it is you, not me or any other politician, that determines the value of your vote.

If you take your vote seriously…
If you carefully study the policy options…
If you sincerely evaluate the quality of leadership and candidates that each party nominates…
Then, you give value to your vote.

If you do none of these things...
If you don’t challenge the parties to answer your questions and concerns…
If you blindly follow one party or personality without considering their policies or track-record…
Then, you devalue your vote.

The UDM is reaching out to all South Africans today with a message of hope; the better future that you long for is within your grasp. It is vital that you register as a voter and vote.

It is time to reverse the political culture of an elite prescribing to the majority.
Now is not the time to be despondent, or become sidetracked by the politics of thuggery and infighting.

While we may differ on the policy solutions, most of the serious political parties agree on the broad concerns and challenges facing the country.

But what about the underlying values of the political parties?

The UDM’s values are inclusiveness, consultation and accountability.

These three simple values distinguish our approach from that of the ruling party, which has forgotten these fundamental notions of democracy.

That is why our slogan for this election is: Now’s the time for All South Africans!

Fifteen years into democracy we are witnessing the dangers of one-party dominance.

For Instance, vital decisions – such as the removal of the Head of State – are casually taken by a few dozen people without even consulting Parliament.

South Africa’s transition to democracy was your achievement.
You can all rightfully claim that the ‘miracle’ of 1994 transpired because ordinary South Africans said:
“Our diversity does not make us enemies; we can and should share a common destiny”.

We are still shaping that common destiny and now is the time for ALL South Africans to participate in our continued, exciting exercise of nation-building.

However we need to reflect critically and honestly on whether more could not have been done in the last fifteen years.

Elections are about the successes and failures of the ruling party, and about what each party claims it is capable of doing should it be elected into Government.

The ruling party had certain achievements, especially in integrating South Africa into the global village. We must further acknowledge their attempt at addressing social security related issues. But this remains insufficient, which is why we have been advocating the need for a Basic Income Grant.

The role of South Africa in peace initiatives and peace-keeping in Africa is well documented. Yes, credit must surely be given where it is due, some of the leaders of the past 15 years also succeeded in putting the institutions of our democracy in place. Although the same ruling party is now engaged in a systematic campaign to undermine and devalue those institutions.

However, five decades of National Party rule and nearly two decades of the ANC, has been characterised by governments that do not listen to its citizens.

Holding those in power accountable is what distinguishes a democracy from a dictatorship. The failures of this government to serve and protect its citizens, its willingness to condone corruption, as well as its inability to act accountably to you, continue to motivate us.

The arrogance in their unilateral decision-making and self-preservation, inspire us. We are encouraged to work even harder for you when we look at just some of what they have left us with: jobless growth;
rising crime and a dysfunctional justice system;
political tennis rather than education in the classroom;
deteriorating health care and questionable water quality, among other things.

Several other disconcerting actions by the ruling party in the past year add further weight to our concerns that South Africa is being steered away from its noble constitutional democratic principles. The leading unit for the investigation and prosecution of corruption and organised crime has been disbanded – after investigating senior members of the ruling party.
The public broadcaster’s Board is now openly a panel of people that serve at the whims of the ruling party.

The caretaker President that the ruling party has appointed now appears to be under pressure to rush into law legislation that the ruling party prefers. He is expected to do this irrespective of his constitutional obligation and the oath of his office, which oblige him to consider each law carefully. His duty, as we all know, is to act in the interest of all the people.

Which brings me back to you – the voter. In this election you need to make a choice that addresses your dreams and your concerns.

In the end, it boils down to trust. Which political party can you trust to uphold your values and fulfil the promises in their election manifesto?

Can you trust the ruling party?

Can you?

Can you, really?

The only question is how many South Africans are willing to give the ruling party one more chance.

I submit, that after 15 years of broken promises and insufficient service delivery, they should not be entrusted with another term in office.

I submit, that after countless corruption scandals, they have abused your trust once too many.

I submit, that with millions of people jobless and our youth loitering the streets unemployed, the ruling party cannot be trusted when it promises jobs.

I submit, that with millions of people being victims of murder, rape and robbery, the ruling party cannot be trusted when it promises to fight crime.

I submit, that with our children matriculating and graduating but not being able to find jobs, the ruling party cannot be trusted when it promises better education.

I submit, that with the clinics empty and thousands of our people unnecessarily ill or dying, the ruling party cannot be trusted when it promises better health care.

I submit, that you cannot trust the ruling party to provide opportunities for all, when for 15 years they have consistently been creating opportunities only for so-called ‘cadres’ of the ANC.

Nor is the question of trust only a question directed at the political party. What about the leader of the political party?

Do you trust the leader of the political party you vote for? Or is that person simply telling his/her audience what they want to hear?

Now is the time for all South Africans to say: Never again shall we put all our eggs in one basket. Never again shall we tolerate one-party domination.

The UDM fights for the principles of democracy that we all hold dear, always and without exception.

You know that the UDM has fought such battles on your behalf in the past.

You know that we have spent vast quantities of resources to fight such injustices as the disgraceful floor-crossing legislation.

You know that last year we fought resolutely against the disbandment of the Scorpions.

You know that the UDM will fight for you without first considering what is expedient or strategic.

Can you trust another party to do the same for you?

Now, let’s speak about the United Democratic Movement (UDM) election manifesto.

We have identified 7 major issues that we address in this manifesto. These are:

  • Creating jobs and growing the economy
  • Fighting crime and ensuring justice
  • Improving education
  • Ending corruption
  • Fixing health care
  • Protecting the environment
  • Giving power to the voters with electoral reform

The number one issue is without a doubt the economy and job creation. Unemployment and poverty continue to define the daily lives of millions of South Africans, even though this country is blessed with riches of natural and human resources.

There is no worse assault on human dignity than poverty and unemployment. Sadly, 15 years into democracy, these are defining realities that are faced by millions in our society.

Freedom loses its meaning when people are stripped of their human dignity.
The ruling party lacks the political will to tackle this persistent poverty and unemployment. Even with the longest period of sustained economic growth in our history, they failed to address poverty and unemployment.

The economic cake needs to be expanded. It is no use to simply give bigger slices to a selected few ruling party members, whilst discouraging the growth of the economy.

We need a rising tide - a growing economy - and the UDM is convinced that such a goal is well within this country’s reach, given the resources we have. A Marshall Plan type of government-led stimulation of the economy is required.

The basic philosophy underpinning UDM policy is Government must do more.  Government has a responsibility to intervene and protect the South African economy and jobs where necessary. A government that proposes anything less, does not care about its people and is not willing to accept responsibility for their welfare and prosperity.

For too long our economy has been suffering from jobless growth due to the confusion created by an ambivalent Tripartite Alliance. This ruling clique preaches elimination of unemployment in the streets and legislates retrenchments and greater unemployment in Parliament.
The UDM is specifically concerned about the plight of the millions of young people in this country. They leave school and tertiary institutions full of enthusiasm to contribute to their country, only to discover that there is no place for them in the labour market.

These millions of young people are a huge potential force for economic growth but they are being left behind. The current government is creating another ‘lost generation’.

The UDM proposes a two-step initiative to create jobs and wealth-creating opportunities for young South Africans.
Firstly, we will focus on enticing them to fill the many vacant civil service posts.
Secondly, we will radically reduce the red-tape preventing entrepreneurship. We will also institute targeted incentives and support for small businesses started by young people.

The business giants of tomorrow – the ones who create the rising economic tide that will benefit us all – are walking our streets frustrated and often unemployed. They only need support, mentorship and a little seed financing.

Given the imbalances and backlogs, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that we need strong government intervention. Government must ensure that we have functioning roads, electricity, irrigation schemes, and reticulation, and an efficient rail network.
All of these things are required to ensure economic growth. That is why the UDM has been saying for years now, that Government must do more. Those who follow parliamentary activities will remember that in 2001 I – on behalf of the UDM – handed the former President our policy documents in Parliament. These were entitled: The challenge of our time: Government must do more!

A major flaw in the economic policy of the past fifteen years has been the failure of the ruling party to bring infrastructure in rural areas and townships on par with the developed areas.

The Agriculture sector which used to feed the Nation and contribute to economic growth is now in serious decline. A UDM government will prioritise rural revitalisation and agriculture, to create jobs, grow the economy and protect us from rising international food prices.

A UDM Government will create an environment where South African manufacturing capacity and industry will flourish. Not only will we reduce bureaucratic hurdles, but we will also introduce targeted tax incentives.

We will focus on the labour-intensive tradable sector such as the textile and mining industries, with a special emphasis on creating opportunities for all South Africans, including youth, women and people with disabilities.

SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The second major issue is fighting crime.
The ruling party has failed to provide decisive leadership on this issue; now is the time for All South Africans to be free from the fear of robbery, rape and murder.

Therefore the first step a UDM Government would take is to appoint a super-ministry of crime prevention, to co-ordinate the crime fighting work of the Departments of Safety and Security, Justice and Constitutional Development, Correctional Services and where necessary, Intelligence and Home Affairs.

A UDM Government will ensure that the best and the brightest rise through the ranks of the police force, thereby ensuring that the people in command understand policing.

We will find creative ways of involving the defence force in crime-fighting efforts, to assist the police and thus expand government crime-fighting efforts.

A UDM Government will overhaul the entire system to address the lack of training and equipment faced by the criminal justice departments.

 

The UDM wants to protect you, unlike the ruling party who seems intent on protecting its own from the law, as seen in so many instances in the last few years. All are equal before the law – politicians included.

You can trust the UDM to uphold the rule of law, as our campaign to save the Scorpions proves.

We must send a message to the criminals: You will repay your debt to society. The UDM manifesto calls for stronger punishment for criminals. Violent criminals especially must receive the strongest possible punishment.

QUALITY EDUCATION
The third big issue for this election is the question of Education.
South Africa is among the world’s top countries in terms of spending on education. And yet, our education system is in a state of chaos and progressive degeneration.

Our children are not getting the basic education they deserve;

  • Therefore they struggle to find employment.
  • Our teachers are not paid what they are worth.
  • Our curriculum is a minefield of ever-changing policies that have left most participants confused and demoralised.
  • Our tertiary education institutions do not provide fair access to deserving students. They also suffer from high dropout rates, and do not produce enough graduates who can fill the skills shortages in the economy.

What is needed is not complicated policy, but getting back to the basics. Teachers must teach; students must study. A culture of learning and discipline must be restored with the reintroduction of regular school inspections.

We must stop the squandering of resources, curriculum confusion and the maladministration to ensure the economy can grow and that we are internationally competitive.

Every study or survey indicates a close correlation between well-performing emerging markets and a good education system. Unfortunately, South Africa is among the lowest in the world particularly in the areas of Maths, Science as well as language literacy and comprehension.

A UDM Government would therefore improve educational infrastructure, including human resources, physical infrastructure, as well as teaching material and equipment.

An urgent priority is to bring education in townships and rural areas on par with that provided in the cities, especially when it comes to material and equipment.

Every learner under a UDM Government will understand the principles of sustainable development. This will include knowledge of the country’s resources, and how they should be managed, for this and future generation’s prosperity.

Education policy development will be an inclusive process involving all stakeholders.

Under a UDM Government emphasis would be placed on discipline in order to promote learning, and each school authority must develop effective and constitutionally acceptable ways to discipline pupils.

CLEAN GOVERNANCE
The fourth big issue for this election campaign is the question of corruption.

No matter from which angle you try to assess the performance of the national, provincial and local governments, you are confronted with an amplified sense of moral decay.

The ruling party has also institutionalised corruption, with its so-called deployment policy, which elevates party membership above qualification or ability. It has bred a culture of mediocrity, incompetence, and corruption in many parts of the civil service, as well as municipalities.

The National Party thought they’d mastered cronyism and corruption; this ANC government has bettered them at their own game!

The UDM advocates a correct relationship between politicians and officials. The current culture of political interference, in the daily administration of our government causes bureaucratic chaos and fuels corruption and tender fraud. The UDM will restore the powers of the accounting officers, namely DG’s, away from Ministers and Councillors.

Under the UDM Government, the Scorpions will be retained.

HEALTH
The fifth big issue is fixing health care. What we need now is reliable healthcare for all South Africans!

 

Too many people in our country still cannot access proper health care. Too many clinics and hospitals have fallen into squalor. Too many people and babies have died unnecessarily of HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases.

A UDM Government will take the following steps:

    • Improve public health facilities and services, including the maintenance of hospitals and clinics. Increase the number of hospitals and clinics, and upgrade facilities to deal with the massive increase in demand due to HIV/AIDS.
    • Ensure that all hospitals and clinics are properly stocked with medicines and other medical supplies.
    • Ensure that all doctors and nurses at primary healthcare facilities are properly trained, qualified and compensated.
    • Streamline referral procedures to ensure that all patients requiring emergency or specialised care, receive speedy and appropriate treatment at the relevant medical facility.
    • Ensure that no medical practitioner, ambulance service, hospital or clinic should be allowed to refuse emergency treatment, aid or admission to any person based solely on his/her ability to pay.
    • Maintain the current spending on the health budget, but increase spending for HIV/AIDS programmes; this budget would be sufficient if spent appropriately and effectively. “Savings” or budget rollovers will not be tolerated.
    • Ensure that the Primary Health care system is tailored to respond effectively to the major diseases, threatening the South African population, such as TB, Cholera and Malaria. All are preventable and can be treated.
    • Ensure that the Department of Health is part of an integrated response to alcohol and drug abuse, recognising that substance abuse contributes to high levels of violence, death and the social breakdown of South African society.

 

ENVIRONMENT
The sixth big issue is protecting the environment.

The threats to the survival of our environment and the people who inhabit it, make the issue of the Environment a top national priority.

The UDM Government is poised to lead a campaign for an ecologically and environmentally sustainable society.
This can no longer be the duty of a few environmental activists, or a department only. Each of us needs to participate.

It must become the mainstream issue in our education and public awareness programmes, development agenda, community service, as well as part of our industrial strategies.

A UDM Government through the implementation of bio-diversity programmes, will create thousands of jobs, these will include such programmes as the greening of South Africa to avert desertification.

In South Africa in particular, and in the world in general, we are facing three major environmental crises. Climate change, water scarcity as well as the energy crisis. These three challenges pose massive threats and require concerted national and international responses. A UDM Government will be a champion of these causes locally, on the continent, and in international forums.

Now is the time for all South Africans to take responsibility. We must act today, to save tomorrow.

ELECTORAL REFORM
The seventh big issue for this election campaign is the question of accountability. There can be no doubt that our electoral system has been exploited by unscrupulous politicians; politicians who put the interests of the party before the interests of the nation.

A UDM government will immediately initiate reform of the electoral system to increase accountability and give the voters more power.
The first major step we will take is the introduction of constituencies into the PR system. This will ensure that politicians have a specific geographically-defined community they represent.

Secondly, we will change the electoral laws to allow for a separately elected President, as is the case in many of the democracies across the globe. In that way we will put the power back in the hands of the voters to determine who their President will be.

HOW WILL WE PAY FOR THESE POLICIES?
You may well ask: Where will a UDM Government find the additional funding required to implement this manifesto?

We believe that it is possible to cut costs by reducing the wastage caused by corruption, ending the over-reliance on consultants, and stopping rollovers.

Further savings can be achieved by lobbying the UN to fund the SANDF’s involvement in international peacekeeping missions.

A UDM Government will also reassess excessive spending on municipal and provincial executive salaries.

A significant saving can further be achieved by reducing the waste of taxpayer money by government departments that place advertisements which are simply pro-ANC propaganda.

A vast amount of money is also being wasted on travelling by councillors, provincial government officials, MPLs, MECs, MPs and Ministers for overseas trips. In many cases, these are ill-disguised shopping holidays and serve no purpose.

In the same vein, we will halt the spending sprees around imbizos and similar events, that are just glorified pageants with no real function for governance. We will also cut the spending on the hosting of endless ‘conferences’ and ‘workshops’ that never result in anything.

South Africa is a wealthy country, but we need to reprioritise and save in order to address the many challenges that face us.

Much of the spending required is already budgeted for, but due to rollovers and incompetence the many thousands of vacant posts, like teachers and nurses, are not filled. Another factor that eats into current budgets is excessive reliance on consultants. These consultants are paid billions every year, but the services they deliver are often of very low quality.

The question is therefore not whether there is sufficient funding to implement policies, but whether there is the political will to run an efficient government and focus on the right priorities.

That concludes my overview of the UDM election manifesto. The complete UDM election manifesto can be viewed on the UDM website, www.udm.org.za. You will also be able to view our comprehensive policy documents there, which provide even more details and specifics.

You will have noticed that there is a word that features throughout this speech and throughout the UDM manifesto, and that is the word ‘trust’.

When you are standing in the voting booth, the issue of trust should be foremost in your mind. That will be your opportunity to answer such questions as:

Can we trust them to create jobs, after they failed in the last 15 years?

Can we trust them to be custodians of the judiciary, when they attack judges?

Can we trust them to fight crime, when their leaders are dodging their day in court?

Can we trust them to fight corruption, when they have been embroiled in one scandal after another?

Can we trust them to deliver quality education, when they have consistently failed to do so for 15 years?

Can we trust them to improve health care, when they have presided over empty clinics and dirty hospitals?

Now is the time for all South Africans to shape their destiny.

Now is the time – vote UDM.

I thank you.

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