Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) at the UDM Eastern Cape Congress 2013 at Mthatha Primary School Sports Grounds on Sunday, 30 June 2013

Members of the UDM NEC;
Presidents of the UDM Youth Vanguard and Women’s Organisation
UDM Public Representatives
Fellow UDM members

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you to all of you who have come today to make this Provincial Congress possible. The structures of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) in the Eastern Cape have worked hard to ensure that this Congress comes to fruition; thank you.

To our National and Provincial Office Bearers, thank you for the time and effort you invested to make today a success.

This has been a difficult week for South Africa, as millions of people around the world have been praying for our struggle icon, Tata Madiba to get well. This Congress joins the millions of people here at home and around the world in wishing Madiba a speedy recovery.

I would like to ask our National Chairperson; Mr Zolisa Lavisa to, on behalf of this Congress, say a short prayer for Madiba. Could I request that the Congress sings Madiba’s favourite Methodist Church hymn, Thixo akunangqaleko, Thixo awunangqibeko, before the prayer?

Once more you are given an opportunity to elect leaders who will lead you for the next three years.

The leaders who are about to be elected today are very fortunate in that the ground is very fertile because the ruling alliance, which in the past impeded our efforts to grow the UDM in this Province, is imploding.

We have to seize the opportunity the political infighting in the ruling alliance presents to us by growing the UDM in every corner of the Province.

In doing so, we must acquaint ourselves with the challenges facing the people of this Province.

You are aware that the Eastern Cape continues to be one of the poorest provinces in the country and is battling with high levels of unemployment. The infrastructure of this Province is both undeveloped and collapsing.

Corruption and maladministration have been allowed to take root.

There is a serious regression in every aspect of service delivery in this Province.

These occur despite it being the home province for many of South Africa’s greatest leaders.

With the bleak picture I have briefly sketched above, it is not difficult to conclude that this Province is on a slippery slope to dysfunction and anarchy.

We have developed a flyer which clearly shows that the whole country is in fact on a slippery slope. Please familiarise yourselves with it so that you can be bale to be able to explain it to the public.

You have to make people to understand that only a change of Provincial Government leadership can rescue the situation.

The other practice that you need to strongly oppose is one where the allocation of the country’s resources is done along ethnic and regional lines.

You will recall that recently we wrote a letter to President Zuma requesting him to intervene in the looting of State resources taking place at the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), a portfolio organisation under the Department of Communications.

Apart from asking for strong action against corruption and maladministration, the letter also calls for the broadband infrastructure to be rolled out fairly and equitably, as it is currently skewed in favour of certain regions and ethnic groups.

For instance, in the first phase of Government’s infrastructure broadband rollout project, 23 out of 33 sites that are targeted for this programme are in KwaZulu-Natal, while only eight are in Mpumalanga and two in the North West Province. The question now remains: “What criteria did Government use to rollout this infrastructure and why have other Provinces been sidelined in this project?”

The implication of this skewed infrastructure rollout programme is that school going kids from other Provinces will not have access to computer labs with internet connectivity.

This reminds us of the failed Verwoerdian policies, which sought to improve the education of one sector of our society at the expense of others.

The letter to President Zuma has been circulated to your structures. However, should you require more copies, feel free to ask National Office for assistance.

From the 15th of July 2013, we must circulate this letter to traditional leaders’ kraals, communities, businesses, churches, schools and School Governing Bodies around the Province so that they can see for themselves what we are talking about.

We should mobilise civil society to sign a petition demanding that computer labs be rolled out to schools in this and other Provinces sooner rather than later.

We have to stop this discrimination! This is not what our struggle heroes fought for.

However, a long-term solution to this problem revolves around ensuring that the composition of future Cabinets truly reflects the demographics and the geographical spread of South Africa. This will ensure that government not only understands the challenges facing the people, but it is also responsive to the needs of all the communities around the country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Looking at the political situation in South Africa, there is a need for political realignment to avoid a one party dominance.

The implosion of ruling alliance both facilitates the need for this realignment. In this regard, we must work hard to give the people who have become apathetic a political home.

The results of the 2009 Elections clearly indicate that people have lost interest in voting; even the ruling party was saved by the increase in voter-turnout in KwaZulu-Natal. In return, the ruling party has rewarded KwaZulu-Natal by allocating a disproportionate share of the country’s resources to it.

However, this political realignment project should not deviate from the original agenda of creating a truly better life for all.

You will recall that we have over the past few months given you regular feedback on the status of the political realignment project. Discussions about the best possible models to use in this regard are underway. We will give you feedback as soon as there are new developments on this matter.

I am however more than willing to take questions on this matter during the questions and answers session later on.

I am not going to talk much today. Our Deputy Secretary General, Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa is going to do most of the talking. I have asked him to tackle possible policy areas dominating the State of the Nation today.

In conclusion, we need to walk out of here with the voting map of this Province. This map will enable us to plan and prepare properly for party building and for the forthcoming 2014 elections.

We need to go out and build UDM in all the corners of this Province in preparation for the 2014 elections.

I would like to report that since January this year we have been busy building and promoting the UDM in the following Provinces: North West, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Best wishes with all your endeavours to build the UDM!

Mr Kwankwa, over to you Sir.

I thank you.