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16 Jun 2004 17:33
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon accused the ruling party of seeking control of “all levers of power” and pursuing a “narrow racial nationalism” in his Youth Day speech in Soshanguve, on Wednesday.
He said the concentration of power in the hands of a few ANC party bosses, regardless of whether it was “in pursuit of noble aims”, was a dangerous thing.
“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Leon, citing Lord Acton.
The ANC’s programme was based on its belief that black South Africans were a “specific class with… particular and common interests and that individual black South Africans are therefore representatives of this larger group”, said Leon. He said the ANC believed it is was the natural representative of the African majority and was “solely able to interpret the will and represent ‘the people’”.
The purpose of the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution was to “emancipate” the African majority through the attainment of “African hegemony”, said Leon.
He said this was being pursued through the extension of ANC control of “all levers of power” and through the promotion of “demographic representivity” in all institutions.
The DA’s approach to government was, by contrast, based on its belief in the importance of individual and his rights.
“The DA believes the individual is the basic unit of society, while the dominant part of the ANC believes it is the racial group. Our objective is… to safeguard the rights of individuals and provide them with the wherewithal to determine and pursue their own ends.”
“No one should be subject to arbitrary discrimination on account of their race or gender or other demographic characteristics. Because we believe every individual is unique, we stand for true non-racialism and oppose any attempt to treat people as mere representatives of a racial group,” said Leon.
“We are inspired by the vision of the American civil rights campaigner, Dr Martin Luther King, who called for people to be judged on the ‘content of their character’, not the ‘colour of their skin’, and by the famous words of Nelson Mandela, who said at his treason trial that he opposed ‘white domination’ and ‘black domination’.
Leon acknowledged that much need to be done to improve the lot of black South Africans.
He said this could be best achieved through the creation of opportunities.
To remedy this, he said, the DA promoted an economic policy that “puts growth at its centre backed such policies as low inflation, a minimal budget deficit, lower taxation, a deregulated labour market, privatisation, enterprise zones, opportunity vouchers and the like”.
The DA also promotes policies designed to provide for the poor, he said.
“For this reason we support the provision of free essential services at municipal level, such as a basic amount of water and electricity, and a Basic Income Grant of R110 a month for those living below the poverty line,” he said. - Sapa
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