Campaign closing rally, Mew Way Hall Khayelitsha speech by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) (19 April 2009, Cape Town)
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered here today to conclude the election campaign. We are on the eve of a historic election. On Wednesday you will take the future in your hands.
We have just witnessed a rally of the ruling party which was attended by some of their 600 000 card-carrying members, out of an estimated 23 million voters. The message we are sending today is aimed at the plus-minus 21 million voters who are not card-carrying members of any political party.
I cite these statistics because the future of South Africa does not, and should not, depend merely on the card-carrying members of political parties.
Our destiny is in the hands of the entire electorate.
We are being called upon to elect a new government to lead for the next 5 years. In evaluating our democratic project, to determine whether we are still on course, we need to address some critical questions.
The last 15 years has been characterised by a high rate of unemployment and high levels of poverty. The blame for this should be placed squarely on the ruling party, who cancelled policies that used to create jobs for the unskilled and the poor.
The role which was played by the unskilled labour force in this country in agriculture, road maintenance and forestry, among others, is still required more than ever before.
That labour force, as we all know, was mainly replaced by so-called "contractors" drawn mainly from the ruling elite.
In industry there were also policies introduced by the ruling party, that destroyed jobs and businesses, such as in the textile industry. The reason that was given for these policy changes was that we should be in line with globalisation. On the other hand, the architects of globalisation have continued to intervene in their economies to create and protect jobs.
When the economic meltdown hit the shores of those countries, their governments escalated their economic intervention to protect their industries and financial institutions.
Across the world, from America to China, governments are putting their local jobs and industries first.
Here in South Africa we have a population which has been at the short end of an economic meltdown since time immemorial. Countless people are in a state of hopelessness, struggling to maintain their dignity in the face of unemployment and poverty. Families are suffering and breaking down.
This is the single biggest failure of the outgoing government.
The United Democratic Movement therefore calls on whichever government is elected to do more, to put the people first and stop catering only for a certain elite.
The UDM believes that there's a way of increasing food security to assist the poorest of the poor. There was a time when many people tilled the land, and were able to feed themselves. We need to introduce policies that support people to produce food for themselves and for export. Thus we can grow the economy and create jobs in the process.
The truth of the matter is that the business fraternity and farming community in this country are competing against international products that are heavily subsidised.
Not every policy the ruling party inherited was wrong, but the baby was thrown out with the bath water. This neo-liberal economic policy that was introduced has destroyed many jobs and led to this so-called "jobless growth". How can we call it growth when there are no jobs?
How do they justify a situation where the people of this country have struggled to educate their children, yet today those children are loitering the streets without jobs? How can they justify that at the same time there are huge job shortages in government, like 90 000 teachers, tens of thousands of nurses and many other vacancies?
The UDM therefore recommends strongly that we cannot afford more of this.
Nor can we allow our population to be used as guinea pigs to experiment with another economic policy dreamt up by the incoming Government alone.
We are therefore calling for an economic indaba directly after the elections, where all South Africans can gather and find consensus on what sort of economic policy will take us forward.
Service delivery is deteriorating. Despite billions being allocated, we are witnessing that standards are dropping. Towns and townships are in decay, and there is no culture of ownership. At the root of these problems is the patronage and incompetence that has been encouraged by the ruling party.
The situation is bad in the rural areas. In some of these municipalities which have been given huge budgets, there are no competent staff, such as engineers, architects and no equipment. Nor is there any control or management; hence we see buildings going up wherever, and their quality leaves much to be desired.
The UDM recommends that the Department of Public Works at National and Provincial should attach some of the projects that were assigned to struggling municipalities for monitoring and assistance.
In the same vein Departments such as Agriculture and Water Affairs should also play a meaningful role in local areas, with a view to demarcating and fencing land for grazing, water use etc. They should also ensure that the land tenure system is better implemented to avoid the dangers of desertification and soil erosion.
One of the major backlogs facing this country is to upgrade the infrastructure of rural areas and townships to be on par with those in developed areas which they inherited. The ruling party has done almost nothing to address this backlog.
One thing that is becoming very clear in this chaotic situation is that the Department of Local Government doesn't know whether it is coming or going.
The Demarcations Board, which was supposed to be independent, has become the victim of political manipulation. It has caused conflict amongst tribal chiefs, communities and provinces; because one day they may find they are part of this area, and the next day another area. It has caused violence and promoted lawlessness. We have seen how areas have been shifted for political expedience to undermine political opponents. In the process it has raised ethnic and tribal tensions.
The UDM will not hesitate to divorce the Demarcations Board completely from any government or political meddling; it should be answerable only to Parliament.
When this government ran out of ideas to create jobs they came up with this volunteer scheme, even in the police. As a result there is an outcry about incompetence in police stations.
In the Department of Safety and Security the UDM advocates better training and focus on new techniques especially on white collar crime. The only way we can improve morale and management is to appoint qualified and experienced police members to the command element. We must train people, pay them proper salaries, equip them properly and enhance the outlook of the police service.
It would also reduce the chances of them being corrupted.
Anyone who kills a policeman must be given the severest punishment possible.
Such acts are attacks on the state and on society.
We have taken note of the clarion call by the population for reform of the criminal justice system. However, the situation has been exacerbated by the Polokwane lynch-mob, who came with one objective, namely to remove any person or institution which they believed would be stumbling blocks to their leadership. Thus whether it was the Scorpions, or MPs, or judges, or the NPA, if they asked questions about the Arms Deal or Travelgate or any corruption, they would be harassed, vilified and purged.
This behaviour has undermined the rule of law. To prove that they meant business, this lynch-mob closed down the Scorpions which was highly respected, this lynch-mob paroled Schabir Shaik under cloudy circumstances.
This lynch-mob formed a committee headed by some of the Cabinet Ministers to see to it that the charges against their leader are withdrawn at all costs.
We have all witnessed how this lynch-mob tried to brainwash us into believing a simple corruption case was part of a conspiracy. We saw how they turned a suspect into a political victim.
Indeed we are still puzzled; can anybody from this lynch-mob show that it was Mbeki who made Zuma meet with Shaik or meet with arms dealers?
Indeed, was it was Mr Mbeki who instructed Mr Zuma to go to Mauritius to prevent a diary of an arms dealer being brought to South Africa as evidence that would implicate him?
Indeed this lynch-mob has successfully dented the image of the NPA and its leadership. It is the programme of this lynch-mob, which has once again used its leader to attack the Constitutional Court. Only last week he questioned the integrity of Constitutional Court judges, just because they ruled against him.
The concept that we are all equal before the law has been vehemently opposed by this lynch-mob.
It is not the court, nor any individual political party, that will change that pattern of behaviour. It is you, the voter, who must change that.
Nor must we fall into the trap that we have witnessed elsewhere on the continent where people flaunt their struggle credentials and commit acts of corruption. One thing is certain, if you put all your eggs in one basket, we will continue to experience these embarrassing tendencies.
This behaviour has embarrassed the country, and people abroad have begun to doubt whether South Africa is not going to become just another banana republic. There is no doubt that a new government will need to recapture the lost ground, especially on our foreign policies and our programmes on the continent.
Yes, South Africa is respected for initiating NEPAD together with other countries, which is underpinned by the need to promote the ethics of good governance. Never again must we repeat silly mistakes such as the Dalai Lama debacle.
Now is the time for all South Africans to take control of their destiny!
When you stand in the polling booth all the campaigns and manifestoes will boil down to a simple question: Who do you trust?
The UDM has offered you compelling reasons why you should entrust your vote to us.
The UDM has fought for your rights without flinching. When other parties pursued policies that are bad for South Africa and her people, it was the UDM that took up the cause on your behalf.
When other parties looked the other way or assisted those bad policies, such as floor-crossing, it was the UDM that fought for you.
You can trust the UDM because you know that there is no doubt about our commitment to the principles that we hold.
Other parties may claim to have similar principles, but can you trust them to live by those principles?
The UDM manifesto is underpinned by three guiding values: inclusiveness, participation and accountability.
These values are the foundation of all our policies.
If you share those values, I appeal to you to vote for the UDM.
In this campaign we identified 7 major issues.
. Jobs and the economy,
. Better education
. Fighting crime,
. Improving health care,
. Eradicating corruption,
. Environmental conservation, and
. Greater accountability and voter empowerment through electoral reform.
On all of these major challenges the UDM has identified the problems and proposed solutions.
The UDM solutions are realistic and possible within budget constraints. We also believe that the UDM policies' blend of pragmatic commonsense and innovation will make a genuine difference in the lives of every South African.
Naturally we cannot talk about solutions without acknowledging that there have been failures. And those failures are the failures of the ANC Government. We shall not be told that they are above criticism. They have themselves built their campaign on the fact that they have not delivered as they should have, when they say "working together we can do more".
We are grateful that we have had many opportunities, such as this one today, to speak directly to South Africans. Now you can hear for yourself the solutions we offer.
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 vote. It is also pivotal, now more than ever, that all of us participate more actively in this democracy.
It is time to reverse the political culture of an elite prescribing to the majority. The ruling party has become an exclusive club, where small groups battle it out for access to state resources. A new faction is eager to board the gravy train; election 2009 is where you the voter can stop that gravy train from departing the station.
Without a doubt job creation and economic growth is the number one priority.
The UDM proposes the following specific solutions:
The UDM believes that the long-term solution for unemployment is promoting small businesses. We need to encourage South Africans to create new jobs and new wealth.
Our youth today are ready and enthusiastic to participate in the economy.
What they require is to be given assistance to kick-start new ventures.
Therefore we need a Development Bank-type of institution for industries such as Textiles, IT-related business, Tourism and others.
Another thing that is becoming clear is that even academics differ on what type of education system would best serve our country's needs. Despite those differences, nobody can dispute that we need a curriculum that is sensible and stable. We need a curriculum that equips our youth with the skills to find jobs.
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?
We are talking to the 21 million voters today who hold the destiny of the country in their hands. On Wednesday in the polling booth you need ask whether the ruling party can be trusted with another mandate:
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 and label them as counter-revolutionaries?
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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