Complete with background music from Zahara, Freshlyground and Brenda Fassie, Democratic Alliance (DA) leaders led a march to Parliament’s gates on Wednesday morning, painting themselves as an alternative big, blue dog that is nipping at the ruling ANC’s heels.
DA’s parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, national leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille sang struggle songs, danced and assured more than 400 supporters who had gathered to hear their “real state of the nation” that they were ready to pick up the baton of change that had been handed over to South Africa by Nelson Mandela.
The ‘real opposition’
The march was part of Maimane’s Power to the People campaign that has seen him visiting cities and small towns around the country to hear residents’ grievances.
He said the DA marched on Parliament to remind President Jacob Zuma that, like 25 years ago when Mandela was marshalling change after his release from prison, the DA was here today to bring further change.
“We don’t want to come to Parliament to be spectators to the feud between father [ANC] and son [Economic Freedom Fighters]. We want to come to Parliament to talk about the real issues, the issues that challenge the people of South Africa. That’s why we wake up every day.”
The country’s energy problems should be given priority in Zuma’s speech tomorrow, said Maimane.
“We are having an electricity crisis, that is why tomorrow’s State of the Nation is so important. Therefore, tomorrow we must make it loud and clear that he [Zuma] must talk about this electricity crisis. Zuma likes load-shedding because in the dark he can continue with corruption. We want the lights to be on.”
Turn on the lights
Maimane said it was time for government to break the Eskom monopoly.
“And for the management of the national electricity grid to be taken away from them. We can no longer allow a situation where Eskom is responsible for 95% of South Africa’s electricity generation. We must allow independent power producers to supply electricity to the grid in significant numbers, and massively expand our renewable energy programme.”
The party said it was confident that, come 2019, it would be the DA’s turn to deliver the State of the Nation address.
Zille said the ANC and the DA were running a race, though not the same one.
“Our obstacles are not their obstacles. And our finishing line is not their finishing line. The DA’s race – if we triumph – means that South Africa will, once more, be moving in the right direction. A South Africa where the economy grows, while unemployment shrinks. Where opportunities exist for every person to use their freedoms to improve their lives. A South Africa without load-shedding, without an education crisis, without rampant corruption and theft of the people’s money.”
No faith in Zuma
Zille continued: “A South Africa free from the constant fear of crime; where the streets, the schools, the shopping centres belong to the people, not the criminals. Where hard work is rewarded, regardless of who you are, where you’re from or who you know. And where corruption is punished, regardless of who you are, where you’re from or who you know.”
Stating that the party would, unlike the ANC, punish those found to be involved in corruption, Zille said people who work for Zuma had to dance to his tune, even if they did not believe in him.
“Even his praise singers no longer believe him. But they know how to clap on command because they will be out if they don’t. They know they are being watched closely by people in their own party. The State of the Nation address will be the same so-called ‘good story’ we’ve been hearing for years now: some carefully selected service delivery stats and a list of impossible promises about big projects in the pipeline.”
Cosatu in the Western Cape accused the DA of transporting “vulnerable senior citizens” to Parliament to bolster its march to Parliament.