Let’s put our country first - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader's appeal to ANC MPs in motion of no confidence debate in parliament

Let’s put our country first

by Mmusi Maimane MP - Leader of the Democratic Alliance

Deputy Speaker

Honourable Members

Fellow South Africans



This is South Africa.

A land of contrasts. Where hope overcomes fear. Where light shines through the dark. Where good triumphs over evil.

This is South Africa.

Where every generation faces its own struggle. The fight against colonialism. The fight against apartheid. We have overcome these struggles. We can overcome anything.

This is South Africa.

A place of reconciliation and forgiveness. Where one man spent 27 years in prison so that we could all be free. He remains our moral icon.

This is South Africa.

A place of unimaginable beauty, and extreme deprivation. Where the majesty of the landscape is blighted only by the poverty of its people. This is a scar on our collective conscience.

This is South Africa.

Home of the best Constitution in the world. A progressive charter specially tailored to overcome our painful past, in which our social rights are enshrined alongside our civil rights.

This is South Africa.

It is the country we love. The country that we live for. The country that we fight for. The country that we will die for.

Honourable Members. We are here today to make a choice.

The choice we make today will determine the future of every South African.

Today, we can choose corruption, or we can choose opportunity for all.

We can choose to sit back while our state is captured by the greedy and the corrupt, or we can stand up against state capture.

We can choose to elevate one man above the law, or we can fight for every person to be equal before the law.

We can choose to let one man to enrich himself, or we can help millions to free themselves from poverty.

To put it plainly, Madam Speaker, we can choose Jacob Zuma. Or we can choose South Africa.

That is the choice that each one of us must make today.

When we make this choice, we must remember that, whatever party we represent here, we are all members of Team South Africa.

Many of us in this House share the same hopes and the same fears. We all want a better tomorrow.

Yes, we have our differences. But we are not sworn enemies.

The people who voted for us elected us to stand up for them, not to fight with each other.

They put us here so that we can work together to solve our country’s challenges.

Let us not forget that, before 1994, South Africans came together from across the political divide to map out a shared future.

The negotiators of our Constitution were able to reach out and find each other across a much wider chasm than the one in this House today.

Yet, two decades later, we are struggling to find common ground, in the interests of all South Africans. And it is because we are constantly distracted by one man.

Indeed, the only time we ever talk about our Constitution in this House is when we debate how our President has violated it.

This is not right. And today we have a chance to say to the people of South Africa: You, the people, matter more than the politicians.

Today we have a chance to show that, on Team South Africa, we all want what’s best for our country: a South Africa free from poverty and unemployment.

A South Africa that works. A country that treats its job creators as heroes. A country that says to the world: we are open for business. A country that says to the unemployed: you have a future.

We have a chance to build a South Africa based on fairness and justice. A country where the innocent are protected. A country where powerful people who abuse their power face the consequences.

You see, we are Team South Africa. United in our diversity. Bound together in a common destiny.

But there is one man who stands between us and this destiny. There is one man who holds us back from fulfilling the dreams of our people.

You know who that man is, because many of you have been speaking out against him in recent weeks.

We all heard Honourable Motshekga when he said:

“The ANC leadership must choose between the president on one hand, and the ANC and the people of South Africa, on the other hand.”

And we heard Honourable Mthembu when he said:

“Why should the NEC not step down, given that we have messed up? All these things happened under our watch.”

Honourable Hanekom was spot-on when he said:

“Enough is enough. Clean-up time. We love our country.”

And we support Honourable Ramaphosa when he said:

“We want leadership that is committed to the people of our country, leadership that will not be found wanting in any respect whatsoever.”

Honourable Motsoaledi made an excellent point when he said:

“It’s not because it’s Pravin, but because I don’t believe this should happen to anybody.”

And of course Honourable Nxesi is right when he said:

“We must deal with corruption, whether it’s by a politician or public servant.”

It is not often that so many of us agree with each other. Today we have a chance to make this agreement work for our country.

Because together we can bring an end to this destructive chapter in our history.

Together we can fulfil the role of this House, which is to hold the Executive to account.

I know that there are men and women in these ANC benches who want to do the right thing today.

If you allow yourselves to be guided by your conscience and your duty to your country, we can achieve something great in this House.

I am asking you to take South Africa’s side today, to put your country first.

Whatever you choose, history will remember you for that choice.

If you choose Jacob Zuma ahead of your country, you will have to live with the consequences of your decision.

A vote against this motion is a vote for state capture. It is a vote for corruption. It is a vote for theft. It is a vote for power abuse.

Ask yourself today: will your conscience allow you to inflict another three years of Jacob Zuma on our country?

Since he became president in May 2009, 2.2 million more South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Our country’s debt now stands at almost 50% of our GDP, with debt repayment the fastest growing line-item in the budget.

And, as we sit here today, our economy is hurtling towards junk status. Expressing support for the President today will seal our fate.

Honourable Members, we need the best possible leadership available as we head into turbulent times.

And so I ask everyone in this House to think of themselves as a South African first. Not a member of a party, not a politician, but a South African.

Too often we think of each other here as yellow, blue or red. But all these colours are there, together, in our rainbow flag.

Today we must put that flag first. We must put South Africa first.

Let us do it for the unemployed, the marginalised and the downtrodden. Let us rise above our differences and put the people first.

Ke a leboga. Ndiyabulela. Dankie. I thank you.

Issued by the DA, 10 November 2016