NEWS & ANALYSIS

Limpopo being crushed by weight of ANC ineptitude - Helen Zille

DA leader also says that, as recent events have shown, the EFF is a party headed for spectacular implosion

Address by Helen Zille, to the Democratic Alliance's Limpopo Provincial Congress, Saturday, February 21 2015

21 February 2015

Fellow Democrats,

Yesterday morning in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, as we were about to share our progress and our plans for the province in the State of the Province address, we witnessed yet another astonishing display of ANC hypocrisy and cluelessness.

Hypocrisy, because Marius Fransman and his band of thugs posing as MPL's did exactly what the ANC criticised the EFF for doing a week earlier in the National Assembly. Only, Fransman & Co did it much worse. Theirs was a cheap imitation.

And cluelessness, because there was absolutely nothing to gain for the ANC in disrupting the Western Cape SOPA. All they have achieved is to tarnish an already-tattered ANC reputation even further. Make no mistake, they think they won yesterday, but they are fast steering the ANC towards insignificance in the province.

I can only assume they put on their embarrassing display because they didn't want anyone to hear about good governance in the Western Cape. Every success in the province shows them up; it makes them look bad.

But of course they can't keep us quiet. The truth will always find a way out, and the truth is that the Western Cape is the best run province in South Africa, by a country mile.

It is a province with an unemployment rate of more than ten percent below the national average. A province where the number of discouraged jobseekers - people who have given up looking for a job - has gone down by 33% since 2009.

A province where 248 schools will become part of our "Smart Schools" project, and 500 schools will receive computer lab upgrades over the next five years.

A province where more than 3 million medication parcels have been delivered to people so that they no longer have to wait in clinic queues.

The Western Cape works because we, the DA, don't confuse the interests of the people with our own personal ambitions and aspirations. We're not in government to see how much we can get away with for ourselves. We serve the people of the province as best we can, and not the other way round.

But now compare that to this province - Limpopo - a region of spectacular beauty with some of the richest culture and oldest recorded history in South Africa.

This wonderful province - our gateway to the north - is slowly being crushed under the weight of one of the most inept, corrupt and uncaring provincial governments this country has ever seen.

In Limpopo, a person of working age is 19 times more likely to have given up looking for work than their Western Cape compatriot. Here, more than 400 000 adults have lost hope of ever finding a job. We call them "discouraged jobseekers" - a term that should cast shame on their government, as it indicates an abandonment of all hope for a better life.

When you tune into the TV news these days, Limpopo resembles a region being torn apart in a political civil war.

Warring ANC factions in Mogalakwena have brought all service delivery to a complete standstill as they slug it out for control of the municipality. The local police, acting as the armed militia of one of these factions, staged what is effectively a coup d'etat when they took over the municipality at gunpoint, forcing councillors to leave and new councillors to be sworn in.

The nation may have watched in shock as public order police stormed into the National Assembly on 12 February, but here in Limpopo this approach is old news.

In all of this, the people of Mogalakwena are long forgotten.

In Malumalele, more ANC factionalism and tribalism has seen the municipality torn apart with five schools being set alight since the unrest started. More than 80 000 learners have missed crucial weeks of schooling as 150 schools across the region have not been able to open their doors this year.

Riot vehicles greet you as you enter the town, and shops and banks are closed. It has become a war zone because those elected to serve the community have long since stopped caring about the people. All that matters to them now is power and money.

Across the province the textbook scandal rages on, and there are still schools waiting for their 2015 books.

Almost a thousand children ended up in hospital after being fed food that was not fit for human consumption by the provincial school feeding programme.

This is a province that has been brought to its knees by the ANC.

In the last election, some of Limpopo's residents were swayed by the populist ramblings of the EFF. But as we saw last week, both inside and outside the National Assembly, the EFF is a party headed for spectacular implosion. It is best that South Africans see the truth about this party sooner rather than later because no one deserves to be saddled with an EFF government.

But while the ANC tears itself apart in the province, and the EFF implodes, the DA continues to grow.

And just because we're not yet in government in Limpopo, it doesn't mean the DA doesn't make a difference to the lives of the people here.

The DA has played our part in the tireless battle to expose the textbooks scandal for the past three years, exposing warehouses full of books, and even sites where books were being destroyed. We know that if government doesn't feel the pressure, thousands more learners would have to go without books, many of them eventually dropping out altogether.

By laying charges against the ringleaders in the Malamulele arson and violence, the DA also played a big part in the arrest of these thugs, and certainly prevented further violence and destruction.

The DA has exposed the terrible situation of uncovered pit toilets in schools, we have played a part in getting cash-strapped municipalities to pay salaries again and we have shone a light on the dangerous abuses in the school nutrition programme.

Not bad for a party that is meant to be completely overshadowed and intimidated by the ANC in their traditional stronghold.

But let me tell you, that picture is changing fast. From the 2009 election to the 2014 election, the DA grew by 85% in the province. We grew, in numbers, in every single municipality in Limpopo.

In Giyani - a municipality as far removed from the DA's "comfort zone" as you could hope to find - we grew by a staggering 385% since 2009.

We even took Ward 5 - Olifantshoek, a traditional ANC ward in Makhado municipality - in a by-election, going from just 1.46% of the vote in 2011 to 38.85% in 2013.

There is no such thing anymore as an ANC stronghold. They're not safe from the DA anywhere. As more metros and municipalities fall to the DA in next year's elections, the ripples will be felt all the way to the banks of the great Limpopo river.

It's only a matter of time before the people of Limpopo realise that they needn't return to the party that has been abusing and neglecting their mandate year after year after year.

It's only a matter of time before even Limpopo can look forward to a DA government.

Issued by the DA, February 21 2015

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