Note: The following remarks were delivered by Herman Mashaba, President of ActionSA, following the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the Interim Senate this weekend.
Over the course of this weekend, the ActionSA Interim Senate met to set the strategic agenda of our organisation.
The members of this Interim Senate are seated here before you. They represent a stunning diversity of experience, youth and skills.
Critically, given our agenda to unite South Africans to Act as One behind our vision of a non-racial future for South Africa, this body proudly represents the beautiful diversity of our country in a way that no other party in South African can claim to do.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to welcome our two newest members of our leadership team.
I am proud to welcome Mr John Moodey, the former Gauteng Provincial Leader and Federal Leader Candidate of the Democratic Alli.
John is a veteran civil servant who has dedicated his life to the service of the South African people. I know him to be someone of great integrity and someone who brings an immense following to ActionSA.
I am equally proud to announce a newcomer to politics, Advocate Gill Benson. I met Gill during The People’s Dialogue policy discussions around fixing our criminal justice system. I was blown away by the insights she offered in terms of the solutions that are needed to make South Africa a safer place for the law-abiding residents of our country.
It was immediately apparent that Gill would be a formidable addition to our team, bringing her legal expertise and fresh insights to our new kind of politics.
It also gives me great pleasure to announce that we have appointed Dr Makhosi Khoza as Provincial Chairperson, and to head up our campaigns in KwaZulu-Natal. Ms Vytjie Mentor as Chairperson in the Western Cape, and Mr John Moodey as Chairperson here in Gauteng.
We will be making further appointments in the coming weeks.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have emerged from our meeting this weekend, focussed and energised on our charge to provide South Africa with its first real alternative to the ANC.
This dedicated team of great South Africans has engaged robustly with the task of developing the strategic direction of ActionSA, which I have the privilege to provide some insights into today.
Municipal Election Contestation
Let me begin by stating that we have responded to a growing call for ActionSA to contest more municipalities in the 2021 local government elections. We can now confirm that, in addition to contesting Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni in 2021, we have now begun the consideration of eThekwini, Cape Town, Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Our assessments will examine the growth in our ground structures in these municipalities, as well as the response of prospective donors to get behind the campaign in these municipalities.
A critical cause for the decision to expand the focus of our 2021 contestation arises from information revealing the catastrophic declines of incumbent political parties. Not only do large swathes of supporters of these parties appear ready for ActionSA, but so do significant portions of the 18.5 million South Africans who did not vote in 2019.
On 19 October, we will launch the Act as One National Tour, which will see the leadership of ActionSA travelling across South Africa to take our offer to the four corners of our country.
We will meet with ordinary South Africans, engage with them about their lived realities, and, we will deliver our offer to Act as One to build a prosperous, safe and non-racial future.
Emerging from this weekend, ActionSA has resolved to side with the South African people in their anger over the handling of the Covid-19 lockdown.
As South African begin to pick up the pieces, it is clear that a government that was drunk on its power to control and command, has decimated our economy.
What I find alarming is the manner in which Gill Benson, and many like her, have been treated for airing their anger about the management of the lockdown, and, the callous manner in which businesses and freedoms were treated.
We stand behind Gill Benson and we identify with the 2.2 million South Africans who have joined the ranks of the unemployed this year. We identify with the small businesses, the restaurants, the hospitality industry, the informal traders, the people who have been laid-off, and, the millions of South Africans who now face economic suffering.
Economic recovery plan
We have resolved, in the face of a leadership vacuum in our country, to begin work on an economic recovery plan that will get South Africa working again.
A major focus of this plan, will be in terms of the functions and scope of local government. Whilst our government is talking about the establishment of New Mega Cities, our focus is going to be on the revitalization of existing cities, allowed to decay and become slum areas in a matter of just over 26 years.
We are going to take the model of the Johannesburg Inner City rejuvenation project, which initiated the investment of R32 billion, the creation of 11 000 jobs and the development of over 25 000 affordable housing units close to economic opportunity, and we will replicate it in the CBDs of Tshwane, of Ekurhuleni and of Durban, working with private sector.
We will include in this economic offering, our commitment to earmark abandoned factories across our country, which must be handed over to the private sector to get our manufacturing industry growing again. We have concluded a brief on this, and have the commitment from one of South Africa’s premier universities to initiate a full study on this programme.
ActionSA has resolved to be the hope to the Youth of South Africa. Young people have been abandoned by South African politics, and the benches of parliament have begun to resemble an old-age home.
The education system of the Youth of this country is a crime against humanity. It locks young people into a future without hope, without dreams and without opportunity.
We have adopted a plan that will dedicate a program of action to the young people of South Africa. We will be working together to develop a new deal centred around education and opportunity.
I have already initiated the development of our Youth structures within ActionSA. We will be convening a Youth Advisory Forum to ensure that we champion the interests of this key voting demographic.
I have also initiated a process to co-opt Youth membership onto our Interim Senate, because the Youth of our country will become the centre of our agenda.
ActionSA has resolved to develop its voice in the international relations of the region. South Africa is paying the price for the human rights disaster in Zimbabwe.
We have resolved to develop a hard-line in dealing with neighbours like Zimbabwe whose leaders have destroyed a country, driven millions across our borders and still enjoy the luxuries of South African banks, hotels and shopping centres. This must end with the introduction of hard diplomacy which will freeze their assets and ban ZANU-PF leadership from travelling to South Africa.
It is a matter of time before the ISIS activities in Mozambique spill over our non-existent borders. What is going on in Mozambique is appalling and the world does not care.
We have to care for the people of Mozambique before terrorism spills over our non-existent borders into our country.
ActionSA has noted the proliferation of xenophobic movements in South Africa and we have resolved to be leaders and not followers in the struggle for immigration control in South Africa.
The enemy is not foreigners. Let me repeat myself again. The enemy is not foreigners. The enemy is our government and it is our government that deserves our hostility.
Our government is the origin of this tension in South Africa, and their failure to recognise that we are a country meant to have borders is the origin of the permanent potential for violent outbreaks of xenophobia.
ActionSA has strengthened its resolve to its position that people must enter our country legally and must obey our laws once here. This remains our non-negotiable position, and, neither ActionSA nor the South African people will be silenced on this matter.
In ActionSA, we are blessed to have both powerful women and men who see they have a leadership role in leading the fight against gender-based violence. The empty rhetoric in South Africa’s political system is failing the women of our country, and we need to provide leadership on this critical matter.
Last week a delegation from ActionSA visited the Mashishing, Lydenburg community in Thaba Chweu Municipality in Mpumalanga.
During this visit we met with a young female police graduate that had allegedly been sexually assaulted by the Lydenburg Station Commander. After coming forward and reporting the matter, she has suffered the worst kind of harassment and intimidation, and was eventually kidnapped, tied-up and left for dead in the bush. Her story was heart-breaking, and sadly a story that is far too common in our society.
ActionSA has therefore resolved to provide this brave young woman with our full legal support in this matter to ensure that justice is served.
Beyond this legal case, ActionSA has resolved to develop a series of social interventions aimed at addressing the behaviour of men in our country and their treatment of our mothers, our sisters and our daughters. Will provide details in due course.
We are very proud of the strong women in ActionSA’s leadership. They are dynamic, powerful women who are deeply committed to providing the leadership we are being denied on the subject of Gender Based Violence.
ActionSA has resolved to launch a series of private prosecutions in the face of continued NPA failure to fulfil their prosecutorial mandate without fear or favour. Within the course of this month, we will announce the cases that we will be taking up with the NPA, and demanding they issue the nolle prosecqui that will enable us to proceed with private prosecutions.
We are no longer prepared to sit back and watch our criminal justice system failing our country.
We have also noted the recent arrests made in respect of state capture linked cases. ActionSA, with the insights of Dr Makhosi Khoza and Vytjie Mentor who understand how the ANC operates, believes that these cases will need to be monitored closely. We will observe whether the cases fall apart botched NPA or policework and we will watch to see when the real kingpins behind state capture are brought to book, and not just those convenient to act upon.
ActionSA is deeply concerned about the IEC, both in their conduct around rejecting our application, as well as the prospects of free and fair elections being administered with the possible advent of electronic voting, and a pattern of foreign interference in elections.
Already the IEC has attempted to walk back their rejection of our logo on the grounds of the similarities with the South African flag. This after we have very publicly pointed out this particular decision was acting outside of their legal mandate on the Electoral Commission Act.
See our full presentation, highlighting the ActionSA brand origins and key differences between our brand and those of the other party in question.
Our legal team, now bolstered with the inclusion of Advocate Gill Benson, is adamant that we will take this fight to the highest courts of our country if necessary. The full leadership team of ActionSA stands fully behind the appeal against the IEC’s decision.
We cannot allow an institution as important as the IEC, to be so inconsistent and arbitrary in their application of the laws that effectively determine the right to exercise our constitutional rights to participate in the political process.
ActionSA has resolved that we will adopt a position to insource security and cleaners in the municipalities we will contest and govern. The exploitation of these South Africans by ANC tenderpreneurs cannot continue any longer.
ActionSA remains firmly behind the use of primaries to achieve direct democracy in our candidate selection processes. Communities will register with us and vote for the candidates who stand in the respective wards. This will introduce the first system in South African politics where communities choose candidates, and candidates will know their loyalties lie to communities first and our party second – this is how it should be.
But we realise the concept of primaries is difficult to visualise in a country where we have all been disenfranchised by our political system. For this reason, we have resolved to identify a by-election which we will contest in order to demonstrate to South Africans how this system will work.
ActionSA has discussed the ANC’s stated intention to postpone the local government elections of 2021 to be aligned with a single election system in 2024. We cannot have local governments in South Africa, especially given their state of crisis, operating without the constitutional mandate required by the people of South Africa. ActionSA has resolved that should the ANC make any moves in this direction; we will be the first to challenge this in the courts of our country.
Perhaps one of the most important resolutions of ActionSA over this weekend, is our absolute commitment to unite the South African people to Act as One to achieve a non-racial future. We are convinced that the vast majority of South Africans want a political home that will end the racial divisions fostered by current political parties. We are dedicated to be that political home for the South African people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our strategic planning this weekend has created more hope, more belief and more inspiration than I have felt in 4 years in politics. This is a strong team of people who debate each other, who have crafted a plan for ActionSA which is going to raise our party to the scale of the challenge that lies ahead of us.
I would like to thank this team for their dedication to the people of our country and their drive to create the first real alternative to the ANC that is going to disrupt our broken political system to provide hope to the South African people once again.
Please, allow me, on behalf of this leadership team, to convey our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the thousands of our volunteers across all corners of South Africa, doing an amazing ground work already. We daily watch, with admiration, daily activities, driven and financed by communities themselves. You inspire us.
I thank you.