Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) at a Provincial Council of the UDM in the Eastern Cape, Khanyisa High School, Mthatha on Sunday, 3 February 2013

Provincial Leaders of the UDM in the Eastern Cape
UDM Regional-, District- and Branch Leaders
Public representative of the Party
UDM members

1. State of the Nation in brief

We are nearing the end of the first term of Jacob Zuma as President of this Country. He repeatedly committed his government to address the high levels of poverty, to create jobs and to eradicate corruption. Yet we sit here today, having witnessed what has happened to South Africa with Jacob Zuma at the helm.

The ruling party is running out of ideas to combat unemployment; our people still sit in the squalor of their poverty; and the levels of misappropriation of Government money and corruption have reached new heights.

How can you say to the people: “We fight corruption” whilst you sit with your hand in the cookie jar. The ruling party and their leaders have become masters of the art of paying lip service.

How is it possible for our Communications Minister to think that it is okay to award a tender to her boyfriend? Why is it somehow acceptable to have tuck shops, tennis courts and houses for extended families built at the expense of our people and call those national key points? Why do we allow some people to have unrestricted access to parastatal funds just because they have employed family members of the President?

It now becomes apparent what the obsession with the Information Bill was: it is a case of wanting to hide that which they know is wrong by using legislation to achieve this. It reminds us of the old Apartheid laws.

We have the task ahead of us to educate the citizens of this country. We must help them to understand how this abuse of state resources is affecting the image of this country and how it is being sold to highest bidder. They must understand how this looting spree affects them in their daily lives.

Our education system is in a shambles and this province in particular used to have an education system that produced great leaders.

We have all seen how this Government reacts to people whose voices are raised in concern – instead of going to the people with their ears open, they go with a closed fist. It seems as if ANC’s rule is being sustained by the state security forces, which brutally squash dissenting voices and have no qualm to take lives in the process. Instead of protecting our people from violence, they are the ones who attack our people.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM), as well as other opposition parties, but mostly the South African public in general, must take a hard look at the status quo; make a thorough analysis and decide on what is next.

President Zuma was given the opportunity to govern and he cannot get around the fact that he and his government have badly let South Africans down.

We are standing at a crossroads and we have the opportunity to change our minds. Are we going to sit still and allow this state of affairs to go one? Or are we going to be brave and say: “No more!”; we deserve a good and effective government for the benefit or our people.

2. State of the Province

2.1. State of infrastructure, roads and railways

Already in June 2009, the UDM told Parliament and President Jacob Zuma, of towns in the former Transkei that found themselves in an economic and service delivery crisis.

We are now in 2013 and the people of this province still suffer the pangs of neglect by those trusted with the duty to deliver services. Whether you are from East London, Cape Town or Durban, the moment that you enter the Transkei you realise that you are entering the Third World.

The N2 is a highway of death – with congestion and a road surface dotted with potholes and there are far too many accidents on the road between East London and Kokstad. The problem could be resolved with an electrified railroad between these centres and a new railroad built to connect Kokstad and Mthatha.

The Eastern Cape health system is a travesty; the state of our education is amongst the poorest in the Country; electricity supply is insufficient, service delivery is atrocious; and so the list goes on.

2.2. The province’s budget

For years we have lamented the Provincial Government’s inability to spend its budget in the right manner. We must now, however, ask whether this budget is sufficient in addressing the needs of the people. Is enough money allocated to, amongst other things, upgrade and maintain roads and railways, schools, hospitals, etc?

3. State of the UDM the Eastern Cape
3.1. Challenges facing the Party

It is unfortunate that the UDM in the Eastern Cape has struggled to achieve the targets as set out in our Ascendancy Profile.

Most of the external challenges are beyond our control, but we certainly are, or should be, able to control internal challenges. Politics are inherently competitive, but we should never loose sight of our vision: “We are the political home of all South Africans, united in the spirit of South Africanism by our common passion for our Country, mobilising the creative power inherent in our rich diversity, towards our transformation into a Winning Nation”.

If we agree that this “project” is still worthwhile, we need to approach it in a fashion where, in the end, the Party is the winner. If we do not overcome the challenges facing us, we will not succeed in the 2014 National and Provincial Elections.

3.2. This Provincial Council

We meet here today to discuss these internal challenges. We must be frank with each other; honest about our shortcomings and sincere in our commitment to build this organisation.

One of our major obstacles has been that some people think the Party is their personal fiefdom. Another is our poor internal communication and the dissemination of information down to grassroots level.

Good leadership involves the translation of plans into reality. A leader must understand his/her mandate and honour that mandate. Now, more than ever, the Party’s leaders in the Eastern Cape must get their act together, put their differences aside for the benefit of the UDM in preparation for the upcoming elections.

4. Realignment of the South African political landscape

Before we tackle the realignment debate, I remind you that we must argue with the goal, of improving the quality of life for all South Africans, in mind.

4.1. History

The UDM has been a proponent of political realignment since its inception. At our last National Congress, in 2010, we agreed that realignment is not the absorption of one party by another.

The 2009 election results showed that the South African electorate wants a system where two large parties, of similar strength and size, compete for the mandate to govern.

4.2. Progress made by the Multi-Party Forum

In recent months opposition parties increased their cooperation efforts by working together in Parliament. Most notably, we joined hands to oppose the Protection of State information Bill, as well as the motion of no confidence in the leadership of the President and that of the African National Congress.

The Multi-Party Forum met on 25 January 2013 to discuss the way forward. We agreed on some common concerns, amongst others: the economy, corruption, service delivery, crime, unemployment, poverty, education, health, the environment and the recent displays of civil disobedience.

4.3. The National and Provincial Elections 2014

At the aforementioned Multi-Party Forum (MPF) meeting, the UDM proposed that opposition parties contest the 2014 National and Provincial Elections under one banner, but that we retain our individual identities.

We agreed that we should consult with our structures and obtain the necessary mandate before our next MPF meeting on 12 February. In part, this is what we are doing today.

To enrich our discussions, I have brought a compilation of documents that gives the details of the UDM’s long standing views on realignment.

5. Conclusion

We are standing at the precipice of making the paradigm shift required to make a positive change for South Africa’s democracy.

I wish you the fortitude needed to be honest about your commitment to the original agenda, which is the bettering the quality of life of all South Africans, and in particular the citizens of this great province.

I thank you