SoNA: We Shouldn’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, ActionSA Has a Plan to Fix SA

Good morning, my fellow South Africans!

This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his eighth State of the Nation Address.

The President will once again make grand promises and speak of progress.  We have heard these promises and lies of progress before. But, by almost every measure, South Africans are worse off today than they were six years ago.

Unemployment has increased, crime is on the rise, load-shedding is more severe, and our infrastructure is in a worse state of decay. This is not just the legacy of President Ramaphosa, but the party which he leads.

As we commemorate three decades of democracy this year and head to the polls, I want to urge South Africans to judge the President and his party not only on the past six years, but on where we find ourselves as a country 30 years after liberation.

Ask yourselves a simple question – have we achieved the vision we had for our future in 1994?

Our response to this question will be the true measure of our democratic progress – our ability to remove a government that has failed us and replace them with one that works towards an inclusive and prosperous future for all.

Fellow South Africans,

As an entrepreneur who built a successful manufacturing business at the height of apartheid, I have realised that one must learn from your mistakes. One cannot hope to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome.

It is the same with the government. We cannot continue to vote for the same selfish leaders, election after election, and expect our country to improve.

I voted for the governments of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, and they made some progress. But that progress had stalled, and the government has been captured by those who only seek to serve themselves, and not the people of South Africa.

Just as the ruling party has changed, so I changed my vote. I believe this is my democratic duty. Because I believe in learning from my mistakes.

My fellow country men and women,

I say again – one cannot hope to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome.

To bring about positive change, we must be bold. We must be courageous. We must try something new. We must take action!

In August 2020, we launched ActionSA as a solutions-based alternative to challenge the failed political establishment.

I stood before you and dedicated our new party to you, the people of our country, because I believe that despite all the negativity and despair we face, the people of South Africa want to see our country work.

My message to you today is simple: for the first time since 1994, we have a real opportunity to make this happen!

This year, as we commemorate three decades of democracy and once, we can change the direction of our country.

This year, we can FIX South Africa!

In September, ActionSA held our first national policy conference, bringing together over 600 delegates from across the country to adopt a comprehensive set of solutions to South Africa’s greatest challenges.

Our policy conference was the culmination of months of engagements with academics, subject experts and scores of South Africans with first-hand experience of how to navigate issues like economic development, crime, load-shedding, education and healthcare.

Together with policemen and women, doctors and nurses, teachers and school principals, farmers, engineers and business owners, we crafted realistic and implementable plans that we can put into action when we take government.

Today, I would like to share some of these plans with you.

Firstly, we will take action to fix South Africa’s broken economy and create new jobs.

Growing our economy and creating jobs must be our number one priority.

ActionSA’s policy on Economic Prosperity will create a conducive environment for economic growth and job creation through interventions that will stabilise the energy market, develop world-class economic infrastructure, and improve the ease of doing business.

We will reform labour regulations to break the stranglehold of unions and make it easier to do business to create millions of jobs and lift our people out of poverty.

We will support SMMEs and ensure that we remove the barriers to growth that prevent small businesses from succeeding.

As I did while I was Mayor of the City of Johannesburg where I helped facilitate R30 billion in private investment, ActionSA’s policies will cut red tape and unlock entrepreneurship by introducing low-interest, government-secured loans for small to medium enterprises.

We will fast-track the development of new industries and technologies and foster a culture of innovation and competition so that we can diversify the economy and create new sources of growth.

Secondly, we will take action to provide economic justice.

Economic growth that is not inclusive will not break the cycle of poverty and inequality that prevents South Africans from reaching their true potential.

Let me be clear: ActionSA is unapologetically in favour of black economic empowerment and the empower of all those who were marginalised by the Apartheid government. But we reject the B-BBEE Act of 2003 that has left the majority of our people trapped in poverty, increased inequality and mostly benefited tenderpreneurs and the politically connected.

An ActionSA government will replace B-BBEE with a policy of Inclusive Economic Empowerment that will empower all previously disadvantaged South Africans, as well as those harmed by 30 years of corrupt and incompetent government.

Inclusive Economic Empowerment, or IEE, is the first real alternative to B-BBEE. It will directly address the legacy of Apartheid by creating economic opportunity for all previously disadvantaged South Africans, not just the connected few.

We will establish an Opportunity Fund that will invest economic infrastructure like schools, healthcare and internet access in disadvantaged communities, ensuring that they have the same opportunities for upward mobility as other South Africans.

By using the money businesses currently spend on malicious B-BBEE compliance and window-dressing to build real infrastructure that benefits the poorest of South Africans, we will level the playing field once and for all.

Thirdly, we take action to fix our education system.

ActionSA believes that quality education is the best tool to empower individuals and lift them out of poverty.

Our government’s neglect of the education system in South Africa stands as a grave injustice, robbing countless generations of the opportunity for a brighter future.

ActionSA’s Education Policy will address this problem, beginning with the establishment of universal access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) to ensure that all South African children receive a foundation of quality education.

ECD centres play a pivotal role in shaping future educational outcomes later in life. Our policy will allocate increased funding for ECD programs, including the expansion of feeding schemes to guarantee adequate nutrition for children during their formative years.

To break the stranglehold that unions currently exert over our schools, ActionSA will implement reforms to ensure that the most qualified teachers are appointed to key positions.

We will reinstate school inspectors to monitor and uphold the standard of quality teaching. And we will pay teachers more for the crucial role they play in our society.

We will reform the curriculum, aimed at improving educational outcomes by focusing on comprehensive reading skills and maths, and equipping children with skills needed to contribute to economy.

Lastly, we will broaden access educational opportunities for adults, and reintroduce vocational training to build the next generation of skilled artisans like electricians, plumbers, carpenters and builders.

Fourthly, we will take action to end load shedding in South Africa.

This year marks 17 years since rolling blackouts, or load shedding, was first introduced. In 17 years, the ruling party has been unable to end this curse. The little progress that has been made has been driven by the private sector installation of roof-top solar panels.

ActionSA will change this by ending Eskom’s monopoly and introducing competition into the electricity market. This will help drive prices down while increasing efficiency.

We will also incentivise private homes and businesses to install solar power, and we will protect our schools, police stations and hospitals from load shedding to ensure that frontline services can continue uninterrupted.

And, we will ensure that communities are protected when the Just Transition occurs by providing essential skills and entrepreneurial training to those currently working in the coal mining sector.

Fifthly, we will take action to fight crime and corruption.

No country can flourish and no economy can grow in a state of anarchy, chaos and lawlessness.

When I visited the community of Riverlea, Johannesburg, mid-last year, I was shocked to find how our uncaring government has allowed a once proud community to fall victim to substance abuse and lawlessness.

I listened to desperate parents share stories of how their children have taken to a life of crime in the absence of real economic opportunities. These communities have been devastated by the impact of drug use, tearing families apart.

I witnessed first-hand how Zama Zamas engaged in deadly turf wars, forcing residents to shelter in their homes out of fear. Where children once played safely in the streets, families now fear leaving their homes as they might be caught in the crossfire.

This, my fellow South Africans, as the police officers around the corner often fail to respond to residents’ emergency calls due to a lack of resources. This must change.

ActionSA’s approach to Law and Order aims to reinstate the rule of law by prioritising visible policing over VIP protection for politicians.

This involves a comprehensive overhaul of SAPS, instilling a sense of pride in the police force, and rebuilding trust so that criminals no longer operate with impunity.

We will review bail, parole, and sentencing guidelines for severe offences such as rape, murder, and drug trafficking. Under an ActionSA government, life sentences will truly mean a life in prison.

Additionally, inmates will contribute to society by participating in work schemes within the prison system, making amends for their criminal acts.

In our pursuit of a corruption-free society, we will declare corruption as Public Enemy Number 1. ActionSA will reintroduce the Scorpions, establish specialised courts to handle corruption cases and foster a culture of ethical excellence within the public service.

Lastly, to fight drug and substance abuse, we will ensure that drug dealers are harshly dealt with while the victims of substance abuse are given the support and treatment they need. Drug dealers are the enemy, not their victims.

Finally, an ActionSA government will take action to secure our borders.

When I was in Limpopo last year, I saw first-hand how hundreds of people were able to cross the South African-Zimbabwean border illegally because of the non-existent border fence.

The border management authority, which has newly built fancy offices a few kilometres from the non-existent borders, did little to stop this illegality.

Let me be clear: South Africa was built on the back of migrants. ActionSA wants the people of the world to come to South Africa, but they must do so legally and obey our laws once here.

We will secure our borders while reforming our immigration system to make it easier for those who can contribute to our economy to enter legally. And we will clamp down on corruption and the issuing of fraudulent documentation in the Department of Home Affairs.

Lastly, we will expedite the deportation of undocumented criminals who have no right to be in South Africa.

My Fellow South Africans,

ActionSA believes that these solutions will place South Africa on the path towards an inclusive and prosperous future.

They represent a major shift in the status quo in South Africa that will empower millions of people to leave behind poverty and achieve their true potential.

If implemented, these solutions will lead to safer communities, improved economic infrastructure, and a prosperous country where everyone has equal access to opportunity. A country that has finally been able to address the harmful legacy of Apartheid and failed governance.

I recall a recent interaction with a resident in Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape. After listening to ActionSA’s pragmatic solutions and message of hope, one young community member began to cry.

He explained that after years of drug abuse, stemming from a lack of hope for his future, ActionSA had given him optimism once again.

This is why we do the work we do. This is why I made the difficult decision to leave behind my wife and children for days on end to bring hope to communities who have been let down by the political establishment.

But, for us to make this hope a reality, it will require you, the people of South Africa, to take action.

This year, we have the first real opportunity to remove the ruling party from power and usher in a new era of positive change for South Africa.

This year we have the opportunity to leave behind decades of corruption, self-interest and decay, and replace it with a government that will place South Africa onto a path of prosperity.

ActionSA is leading this march towards positive change.

All across South Africa, voters have been inspired by the message ActionSA has to offer. In 2021, over 550,000 voters chose us to represent them in the six out of 278 municipalities we contested – making us the sixth largest political party nationwide as a result.

This is only the beginning. If the millions of South Africans who care about the future of this country, and the future of themselves and their children, take action and vote this year, we can unleash the true potential of our nation.

For that to happen, the responsibility rests on all of us. It is up to us to take action to fix South Africa.

To take action to create millions of new jobs.

To take action to bring economic justice.

To take action to fix our education system.

To take action to end load shedding.

And to take action to restore the rule of law.

The responsibility to bring change to South Africa lies in our hands. A better future is possible, but it will require us to take action to fix South Africa.

I thank you.