• The National Chairperson of the UDM, Mr Zolisa Lavisa,
• UDM Secretary General, Mr Bongani Msomi
• The Members the UDM National Executive Committee Officer,
• UDM PEC Members,
• UDM Members of Parliament, Legislature and Councillors,
• UDM REC Members,
• Traditional Leaders,
• Honoured Guests,
• Members of the Media,
• UDM Members,
• Fellow South Africans:
I am pleased to welcome you to the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Manifesto Launch for the 2014 elections. On behalf of the UDM I thank you for taking time to share this important day with us.
Before I deliver my address, I would like to request that we all stand and pay our last respects to the late UDM Deputy-President, Mr Ntopile Kganyago and our late global icon and former President, Mr Nelson Mandela.
My fellow South Africans who are seated in this hall, as well as those who are watching and listening from all corners in Africa.
FREEDOM AT LAST – THE RIGHT VOTE
2014 is an auspicious year when South Africa marks twenty years of freedom and democracy.
We should be proud of the fact that our people have been empowered to cast their vote to choose a government of their liking.
In many countries on the Continent, true democracy is a pipe dream and more often than not governments are changed at the barrel of the gun. In that regard we have made much progress after the Apartheid ended.
I am sure that you, my fellow South Africans, will agree that in spite of our wonderful Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights, we have not yet reached the goal of transforming our Country into a Winning Nation.
BRIEF STATE OF THE NATION
Today, we are meeting at a time when the tensions between the police and members of the public are at an all-time high due to service delivery protests that are often characterised by anger and violence.
The growing service delivery protests and labour unrests are an irrefutable indication of a growing crisis with the state relying more and more on violence and brute force as the infamous Marikana massacre and many other communities in the Northwest and Limpopo province have shown.
During protests the ruling party sadly sends in the police to brutalise the public, instead of dispatching senior government officials to attend to the people’s concerns and complaints.
In addition, councillors have become convenient scapegoats for the ruling party for service delivery failures.
The situation is made worse by the fact that the ruling party, which is supposed to provide leadership, is imploding. This infighting has even spilled over to the local government level. Local government in South Africa is in shambles.
Councillors have usurped the powers of the administrators and they often fail to distinguish between the party and the state. In many municipalities, councillors decide who should get which tenders and why and state resources are used for party political programmes.
Another area of concern at local government level is that the institution of traditional leaders has been side-lined in rural development programmes.
The UDM is of the view that the local government system should be overhauled as a matter of urgency.
Talking of traditional leaders, the UDM believes that the institution of traditional leaders should be given the respect it deserves.
The UDM commits itself to ensure that the decisions made by the traditional houses are referred the relevant bodies, such as the National Assembly and the National Council of Province for action.
The UDM commits itself to capacitate traditional leaders to take a leading role in rural development and the colleges for the children of traditional leaders will be reopened.
The UDM commits itself to standardise the packages of the traditional leaders of the various tribes.
Travelling the lengths and breadths of our country during our party programmes revealed once more that our people are yearning for a strong political alternative. This compelled the opposition parties to engage in a series of discussions to explore possible models of cooperation.
It is however important to highlight that political realignment is a process, not an event. Finding ideological and programmatic compatibility among different political parties is not an easy process. It requires proper sequencing and pacing due to the number of people and processes it involves.
In 2010, the UDM National Congress gave us the mandate to actively find ways in which we can work and cooperate with sister opposition parties before and after the 2014 elections.
But let me ask you a few questions…
1. Do you think that rich people are getting more and more money, and that poor just sink deeper into poverty?
1.1 Problem statement
South Africa today has earned the dubious title of being one of the most unequal societies in the world.
This badge of dishonour is a direct consequence of corruption and policies that allow the rich to accumulate obscene wealth in a vast ocean of poverty.
This situation is made worse by the ruling party’s abuse of otherwise well-intended policies of empowerment such as BEE and state tender policies which are twisted to enrich the politically connected few.
Even in the face of global and local economic and financial crises they insist on parasitic preservation of their lifestyle through taxpayers’ money.
The most painful irony is that of a former liberation movement that espoused egalitarian principles during the struggle years, that presides over the most sophisticated form of institutionalised corruption, which worsens inequality.
Do you agree with the UDM that: Corruption destroys the gains of our freedom?
1.2. Some of the UDM’s solutions are to:
1.2.1. root out this culture of corruption being celebrated and condoned – this can be done by applying the rule of law across the board irrespective of one’s social standing.
1.2.2. promote a culture of good governance.
1.2.3. Instil respect for the separation of powers of government, legislatures and the judiciary.
1.2.4. restore the powers of the accounting officers and ensure that there is no political interference.
1.2.5. introduce special courts dedicated to handle cases of corruption, as was done during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, to swiftly deal with cases of corruption.
1.2.6. conduct a skills audit to find out if the right people are employed in the right posts and at the right levels. Intensify training of civil servants.
1.2.7. review the current tender system that currently makes it possible for bribery and corruption to flourish.
2. Have you successfully completed your matric and/or degree, only to find that there are no job opportunities for you?
2.1 Problem statement
The reality is that 7 million South Africans do not have jobs. What is however most disturbing is that 7 out of 10 young people can’t find word.
What is going on here? The ruling party first tried to convince us that RDP was the answer; then GEAR and ASGISA; after that the New Growth Path. At the moment they are fighting about the whether the National Development Plan is a vision or a policy.
2.2. Some of the UDM’s solutions are to:
2.2.1. initiate job creation and opportunities for young South Africans; e.g. radically reduce the red-tape that stifles entrepreneurship, and introduce targeted incentives and support programmes for small businesses started by young people.
2.2.2. employ semi-skilled youth as “green battalions” in projects to remove alien species, combat soil erosion, afforestation and sustainable subsistence farming.
2.2.3. arrange youth mentorship and exchange programmes through bilateral agreements with other countries.
2.2.4. empower young South Africans to develop micro-businesses, where they for instance recycling and maintaining schoolyards, parks, cemeteries, sporting facilities, etc.
2.2.5. ensure participation of women in the development processes, sustained investment in human capacity through education, health and nutrition programmes.
2.2.6. eliminate all obstacles that still limit the access of women to decision-making, education, health care services and productive employment.
2.2.7. reverse the trend of shrinking numbers of South Africans in the retail sector which is gradually being taken over by foreign nationals with little, if any, assistance for South Africans to compete effectively in this sector. It is a hard fact that jobs are shed, because of this practise when South African workers are replace with family members of foreign business owner.
2.3. Whilst on the subject of job creation, let’s talk about South Africa’s industrial policy: In 1995, the South African government embarked on a massive trade liberalization programme that dramatically reduced trade tariffs in a wide range of labour intensive sectors, such as textile, agriculture, and mining, etc. This resulted in massive job losses because our country’s core industries and labour intensive sectors had to compete with countries whose labour intensive industries are heavily subsidised by their governments. Even worse, key strategic industries such as the steel industry (ISCOR) were unbundled and sold to the private sector which is now selling the same product for infrastructure development at very high costs.
The governments of the most powerful economies in the world, such as the United States of America, China and India as well as various countries in Europe recognise the responsibility they have towards their citizens. These governments do not hesitate to intervene in their economies by protecting local jobs and businesses. A government that proposes anything less does not care, and is not willing to accept responsibility for the welfare and prosperity of their people.
If you drive around Ekurhuleni, which used to be a hub of the steel industry, it now bears the scars of neglect and disuse, because it could not compete with subsidised industries in other parts of the world.
2.4. Some of the UDM’s solutions are to:
2.4.1. create an environment that is conducive for the manufacturing sector and industry to flourish.
2.4.2. reduce the red tape that stifles the ability of domestic companies to export their products to the rest of the world.
2.4.3. develop support programmes for the labour intensive sectors and give special attention to those that create job opportunities for all South Africans.
3. Now, let’s talk about infrastructure development:
3.1. Problem Statement
Well-targeted and strategic infrastructure development is critical for the proper functioning of the economy. It is the cornerstone of sustainable social and economic development. The ruling party’s infrastructure development programme is not planned properly and fails to address past imbalances and backlogs.
For instance, while government has budgeted and approved more than R800 billion over the next few years for infrastructure development, very little of this goes to rural areas and other previously disadvantaged communities in the townships, informal settlements and peri-urban areas.
As a result, the infrastructure in these areas is in a state of disrepair. Even as new infrastructure is being put in place there is a decay of the old infrastructure due to the lack of maintenance plans.
3.2. A UDM Government commits itself to:
3.2.1. Produce a “map of infrastructure development”, with emphasis on transparency and closer cooperation between government, state-cooperation and the people.
3.2.2. invest in the economy through a properly planned infrastructure development programme and other large scale, government funded programmes that are community-driven and applies good environmental practices.
3.2.3. ensure that South Africans have access to passable roads, electricity, water irrigation and reticulation and an efficient rail network.
4. Creating consensus with hosting Economic Indaba
4.1. Problem Statement
As I conclude my discussion on the South African economy, it is clear that we cannot longer allow a few powerful individuals to unilaterally decide what our economic policies should be. We have seen the negative effects of this model of policy formulation.
Over the last twenty years we have witnessed growing levels of tension and mistrust amongst the three main role players: government, labour and business.
On the one hand, this mistrust has discouraged big business from investing billions of available cash in our economy. On the other hand, it has often resulted in illegal and violent strikes, which negatively affect the economy, depress the currency and investor sentiment.
It is clear that after nearly twenty years of economic experimentation that the ruling party has run out of ideas. It is merely tinkering with policy in the blind hope that it will somehow stumble upon a solution.
4.2. A UDM Government commit itself to:
4.2.1. Call a National Economic Indaba along the lines of the CODESA negotiations to discuss an economic policy that will help to eradicate poverty, reduce unemployment and lessen inequality in South Africa.
4.2.2. Use the Indaba to propose the development of a social pact between business and labour in order to improve industrial relations.
4.2.3. Propose that challenges pertaining to land and property ownership be high on the agenda as some are the direct result of the current sunset clauses.
4.2.4. Recommend a discussion topic on mining in South Africa – some of the matters to be discussed are: o Land and mine ownership,
o The allocation of mining rights to the ruling elite and its implications
o Socio-economic conditions of the workers and the communities.
o The controversial issue mineworkers’ access, or lack thereof, to a provident fund worth billions.
o The unions’ investment arms and dividend pay-outs to those workers who have contributed to the fund.
o Appointment of an independent commission inquiry to investigate how these workers’ monies were invested, especially in cases where the workers were retrenched or had retired or passed away.
5. The future of our children the quality of education they receive.
5.1. Problem Statement
5.1.1. Although South Africa invests a significant amount of resources into our education system, the quality of the education our children receive leaves much to be desired. Learners leave the school system ill-equipped to find employment.
5.1.2. Another factor that puts our learners and teachers at a disadvantage is the chopping and changing of education policy with the appointment of each new minister. Just when the teachers master a new curriculum, they have to start from scratch and in turn the learners suffer.
5.2 A UDM Government commits itself to:
5.2.1. translate the large education budget into quality education by developing and maintaining an education system that produces school-leavers and graduates that are equipped with job-related and life-skills.
5.2.2. Career-orientated advice and education will be enhanced to ensure that children can determine their future careers timeously and can attain the various goals on the way towards their employment.
5.2.3. Curriculum development will also be an inclusive process involving all the relevant stakeholders. It will be designed in such a way that it adapts to changing needs of society. It is important that the vital pillars of our education policy do not depend on the whims of one party Minister, but are agreed to by all.
5.3.4. improve the quality of the educational infrastructure, such as the physical infrastructure, teaching material and human resources. The will increase spending on the development, maintenance and provision of school buildings, water, sanitation and electricity.