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You may have heard me say, more than a few times, that “change is coming”. It’s a phrase I repeat whenever I speak of the DA’s vision for South Africa.
Some might brush this off as just another election slogan. But I’d like to remind them that, prior to 2006, people within the DA were saying the exact same thing about Cape Town. Change is coming.
They said it because they knew where Cape Town’s local government at the time was failing, they knew what a DA government could offer the metro and, most importantly, they knew what the people of Cape Town needed.
And when the dust had settled after the 2006 Local Government Elections, the ANC found themselves packing up their offices and making way for a DA-led coalition in the City of Cape Town. In the nine years since then, Cape Town has undergone a complete transformation.
Today the City of Cape Town boasts the highest levels of basic service delivery, the lowest unemployment numbers, the smallest equality gap (difference between rich and poor) and the cleanest audits of all the metros in South Africa. That is what they meant when they said “change is coming”.
Just under 800km down the coast from Cape Town lies another metro with a mountain of issues, but an even bigger mountain of potential.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro we see today is testament to the incompetence and arrogance of its current local government. For decades, the ANC has been sitting pretty in the Eastern Cape – seemingly untouchable in its fortress province. As a result, the metro has suffered some of the worst neglect and mismanagement yet seen in South Africa.
But last year, in the National and Provincial Elections, they were pushed down to 49% of the vote in the metro. They’re under no illusion that they are about to be voted out.
They’ve already played their “ace card” in appointing SAFA’s Danny Jordaan as the metro’s new mayor, but I bet they didn’t see the FIFA corruption scandal coming when they did so.
Our own candidate, Athol Trollip – who will be launching his mayoral campaign next month – has no such baggage. Instead, he boasts an impeccable record and is just the man to lead the DA’s turnaround of Nelson Mandela Bay.
This is one of three new metros in our sights – and within our reach – for next year’s Local Government Elections, the other two being Gauteng’s Tshwane and Johannesburg metros.
A DA win in the economic hub of the Eastern Cape – the ANC’s traditional stronghold province – will be a clear signal of our ability to occupy the Union Buildings and build the South Africa we all dream of.
There are two big reasons why we must, and will, win Nelson Mandela Bay. Firstly, it is what the people of the Bay need and deserve. You’d have to look far to find a city that has suffered more under the double blow of incompetence and corruption than Nelson Mandela Bay.
The massive housing backlog, the growing number of people who don’t have access to toilets, over R2 billion of public money wasted last year alone and well over a third of the adult population unemployed – this is indicative of the service delivery failure experienced by the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.
Desperate people are leaving the Eastern Cape in droves. In the ten years from 2001 to 2011, the province saw a net loss of almost 280 000 people. And it is not as if the province – and specifically its biggest metro – has nothing going for it.
Nelson Mandela Bay has a massive Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), it has a deep-water port, an extensive road and rail network and wind farms. It has a proud and successful history of motor vehicle manufacturing, and it has an abundance of jobseekers, willing to work hard and get ahead.
It has everything it needs to prosper and become a thriving economic hub, except for a competent and caring government. This is why Nelson Mandela Bay is ready for a DA government.
As I said earlier, change is coming.
The other reason Nelson Mandela Bay must get a DA government is so that we can fulfill our Vision 2029 – our plan to turn South Africa around within ten years of DA-led government. And we can only begin realising this vision once we have taken occupation of the Union Buildings.
Our path to Vision 2029 starts with next year’s Local Government Elections, and the closely-contested metros – Nelson Mandela Bay along with Johannesburg, Tshwane and Tlokwe in the North-West – are very important steps in the process.
If we are to convince even more South Africans to put their faith in a DA national government, we need to show them what we call the DA difference. We need to demonstrate how a caring, responsible and effective government can help transform communities. And there is no better place to demonstrate this than in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
We will do for Nelson Mandela Bay what we did for the City of Cape Town.
And our strong showing in next year’s election – and particularly in the metros – will give us the perfect platform from which to contest the 2019 elections.
We have the momentum, we have the track record, we have the people and we have the vision. It’s time to bring Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.