The Moonshot Pact is getting ready for lift-off - John Steenhuisen

DA MP says six party leaders have agreed to attend the National Convention

The Moonshot Pact is getting ready for lift-off

15 April 2023

Note to Editors: The following speech on the Moonshot Pact was delivered by the DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen during a Live Broadcast to the nation.

My fellow South Africans,

As we speak today, our country finds itself in a dark place. Loadshedding is now a permanent feature of life at the southern tip of Africa.

We are currently on stage 6 and we face the dire reality that electricity blackouts will escalate to stage 8, and beyond, this winter.

Our country increasingly resembles a Mafia State, where the people who are supposed to protect us cover up the escape of convicted rapists and murderers.

Just last month, I visited the devastated family of young Langalam Viki, who died in a pit latrine at a school in the Eastern Cape, because basic service delivery has collapsed in large parts of South Africa.

This is the legacy that President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves behind as he limps towards the exit.

We are a country betrayed by the weakest president South Africa has ever had.

And I would love nothing more than to say to you today that things are definitely going to get better.

But the reality is that they can still get much, much worse.

Since I last spoke to you from the floor of the DA Congress, the ANC Premier of Gauteng has publicly confirmed that his party’s goal is to form a Doomsday Coalition with the EFF after the 2024 election.

We must never forget why the EFF was kicked out of the ANC in the first place: because the EFF’s leaders were too radical, too corrupt and too violent even for the ANC.

In their desperation to hang onto power, the ANC has now confirmed that it plans to sell out to a coalition that will dance to the EFF’s tune. This would seal our country’s doom.

But, despite, the very real risk we face of an ANC-EFF coalition, there is reason for hope.

Firstly, ANC support is crumbling. The DA now routinely polls within 12 percentage points of the ANC.

The DA is working every day to close this gap further, so that we can overtake the ANC and become the single biggest political party in South Africa.

But even as we work towards this historic achievement, the DA recognises that South Africans demand even more of us as the official opposition.

They demand that we not only make the DA as big as possible, but that we also provide a credible path to victory in 2024 so that we can defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out.

They demand that we put country before party.

In fact, they demand this not only of the DA, but of every opposition party that stands opposed to the ANC and EFF.

It is for precisely this reason – to put our country first – that the DA extended a hand of friendship and cooperation to the leaders of like-minded opposition parties two weeks ago.

The prospect of a united opposition, working hand-in-hand to grow the combined non-ANC-and-EFF vote to 50 percent plus one, offers another reason for hope.

That is why we must do everything in our power to forge a strong and lasting Pact against the ANC and EFF.

I can today report back that the Moonshot Pact is, indeed, taking shape.

In total, we have now corresponded with the leaders of 15 different organisations to join us in the effort to form a pre-election Moonshot Pact.

The only opposition leaders who were not invited are those who are aligned to the ANC and EFF.

In the spirit of unity and cooperation, the invitation was also not limited to parties already represented in Parliament or in municipal councils.

Newly-formed parties and movements who have not yet contested elections are more than welcome to join the Pact.

I have already written to the leaders of all these parties to thank them for their responses as well as their valuable suggestions on how to make the Pact a success.

The following six party leaders have, thus far, agreed to attend the National Convention for the Moonshot Pact:

Mr Velenkosini Hlabisa from the Inkatha Freedom Party;

Mr Herman Mashaba from Action South Africa;

Mr Ahmed Shaik Imam from the National Freedom Party;

Dr Pieter Groenewald from the Freedom Front Plus;

Mr Neil de Beer from the United Independent Movement; and, of course,

Myself as Leader of the Democratic Alliance.

During the 2021 local government elections, a third of all voters cast their ballot for one of these parties. Our task now is to grow this Pact’s support from a third, to just over half of all votes in 2024.

In addition to parties that have already agreed, Mr Mmusi Maimane from Build One South Africa and Mr Songezo Zibi from Rise Mzansi have suggested that they are still considering their responses.

Leaders from the African Independent Congress, African Transformation Movement, Abantu Batho Congress, Pan African Congress and Minority Front have not yet responded.

The door remains wide open for all of them to take their rightful place around the negotiating table.

I am hopeful that they will soon join the rest of us, because we can never shut the door on South Africa.

Unfortunately, however, I must report with deep disappointment that the following three party leaders have rejected the plea for cooperation:

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe from the African Christian Democratic Party;

General Bantu Holomisa from the United Democratic Movement; and

Mr Bongani Baloyi from Xiluva.

While I absolutely respect the right of these leaders to determine their own way forward, I do ask them to reconsider. If you are a supporter or a donor of these parties, please use your voice to help encourage us all to unite in the interests of the country we all love.

After all, we know that the only way to ever defeat the ANC is for South Africans from different backgrounds to come together. The ANC thrives on the divisions within our society.

And we all know that the only way we will ever be able to rebuild our country is if South Africans stand united in our diversity on our way to a common goal.

Yet how can we, as political leaders, expect the people to do something that we ourselves are not prepared to do?

That is why I implore you: let us lead by example.

Let us cast aside our petty differences and stand together as one Pact, united in our diversity, and work towards our shared goal of unseating the ANC.

To those leaders who have said no to the Pact: I ask that you unclench your fists so that we may take hands and work together.

On a more hopeful note, I can also report that various party leaders have made helpful and constructive suggestions to ensure the success of the negotiations.

I draw inspiration from the knowledge that these leaders share the dream of a strong and cohesive Pact to deliver our country from the threat of ANC-EFF Doomsday.

I do however wish to re-emphasise the importance of the need for party leaders themselves to negotiate the contents of the Pact.

It is for the leaders of organisations to get around the table at the National Convention to set out the vision for the Pact. The work of crafting this agreement is simply too important to be delegated or neglected in any way.

Nonetheless, as a sign of the profound respect and good faith with which the DA approaches this initiative, I will be reaching out to each leader who has agreed to join this initiative to ask for a personal face-to-face meeting.

This will be an opportunity for us to forge the personal bonds we will need to work together, and to discuss any suggestions as well as reservations or concerns that may remain.

I look forward very much to these engagements over the coming weeks.

My fellow South Africans,

If all goes well, the National Convention for the Moonshot Pact will be held during the upcoming winter.

This is going to be a dark winter that will test our nation’s resolve like never before.

I know that you and your families face escalating loadshedding, the prospect of a complete grid collapse, violent crime as well as surging poverty and unemployment on a daily basis.

But the prospect of a united opposition setting aside our petty differences in service of South Africa, can offer a powerful ray of light during this dark winter.

For the very first time since 1994, the ANC is likely to lose next year’s election.

Victory is within our grasp, if we only have the courage to seize the opportunity.

This is why any party that is serious about fixing the mess we find ourselves in after this election, should get on board with the Pact so that we get every single voter to turn out on Election Day.

It is now in our hands to rise above petty politics and nurture the relationships between all parties that want to defeat the ANC and keep the EFF out.

This is an endeavour in which we dare not fail.

And it is an endeavour that should excite, motivate and encourage every person who wants to save this country to go onto the IEC website and register to vote, today.

Because the choice we face when the ANC loses its majority, is simple.

The decisions made by voters during the 2024 election will either seal South Africa’s doom by yielding an ANC-EFF coalition.

Or it will lead towards a better future by inaugurating a Pact government that can save South Africa.

Thank you.

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP - Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 15 April 2023