Election charter launched ahead of polls – Change Starts Now

Party’s point of departure is that SA is akin to a country that needs to recover from a major war

Change Starts Now launches election charter ahead of polls

19 February 2024

Today, new political party, Change Starts Now, has unveiled an ambitious vision for the future of South Africa, addressing the critical challenges of unemployment, poverty, crime, and inequality that have long plagued the nation. The party’s point of departure is that South Africa is akin to a country that needs to recover from a major war, and well-considered post-war economic measures are required to rebuild. The party’s charter outlines a transformative R1.5-trillion redevelopment plan toward a self-reliant country where opportunity, safety, and prosperity are accessible to all.

Change Starts Now invites all South Africans who care about the future of the country to Sign-up for Change on its website, and pledge support for its Charter.

“We imagine a South Africa where every individual capable of working is meaningfully employed, with those who are not supported through social assistance and quality healthcare,” says Change Starts Now leader and former anti-apartheid activist, Roger Jardine. “We envision a nation abundant in food, clean water, and sustainable energy, underpinning a vibrant economy. Education and training systems would be reformed to unlock the full potential of the youth, ensuring a future where safety and security are guaranteed, and the law is upheld with integrity.”

Investing in the education and training of young South Africans is crucial for the country's future success on the global stage, the charter states. By equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge, South Africa can ensure its competitiveness in the modern world. The charter also emphasises the importance of safety and security, aiming for a society where everyone feels protected in their communities. This can be achieved through an effective rule of law that deters and punishes criminal activity.

Change Starts Now will not just dream, it will build, says Jardine. “At our core lies the belief in proactive, ethical governance. We envision leaders who are not only competent and caring, but also committed to principles of fairness and dignity for all. Our politics and philosophy are rooted in standing for, and with the people. Careful planning and governance will enable us to mitigate risks, seize opportunities, and cultivate a sense of belonging and care among the citizens. This is the key to unlocking the true potential of our Constitution, transforming it from an ideal to the cornerstone of a thriving, inclusive nation,” says Jardine.

When so much is broken, it’s impossible to fix everything at once. Change Starts Now has identified certain key areas that are essential to dignity and opportunity, and where change can be felt quickly and have a multiplier effect.

The plan is straightforward:

Collaborate with business and other partners to create new jobs, especially for the youth.

Fix broken public and economic infrastructure, including Eskom, Transnet, PRASA and water.

End corruption in public institutions, particularly in the police and prisons.

Ensure accountability and protect Constitutional rights.

Explore comprehensive social security solutions.

Encourage innovation, imagination, and creativity in solving South Africa’s problems, restoring dignity, and building unity and national pride.

Recognising South Africa’s current state of neglect and the dire need for investment in the nation's infrastructure and its people, Change Starts Now proposes significant, actionable measures to transform this vision into reality.

Economy and infrastructure: fixing government finances

From a government finance perspective, the South African economy is dealing with two significant challenges:

income growth that is too low to address the socio-economic and service delivery requirements, and

a government balance sheet that is buckling under a debt load that is increasingly unsustainable.

The government debt load includes the debt of the central government and those of State-Owned Enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet. Says Jardine: “The challenging state of government finances is best reflected in the downward trend in the South African government’s sovereign debt ratings over the last decade.

Urgently addressing this situation is important - the high debt and low-income challenges are re-enforcing each other in a downward spiral that needs to be broken. The Charter outlines that the weak state of the government balance sheet is preventing it, and SOEs, to access markets at affordable interest rates to build and repair the required infrastructure that will fuel productivity and enable business growth. 

The high levels of debt costs and levels of uncertainty around the sustainability of government finance is preventing the private sector from leveraging its balance sheet to invest and build businesses. The Charter plots a credible path towards unlocking R1-trillion in fresh capital to rebuild the country’s economic infrastructure.

Introducing the ReGrow Fund

Central to the party’s strategy is the ReGrow Fund (Reconstruction and Growth Fund). This initiative suggests a transformative approach to mobilise significant resources – around R500-billion - for economic revitalisation and social protection. Through a temporary, three-year reconstruction tax, Change Starts Now will create a fund dedicated to empowering individuals and communities while sparking job-driven economic growth.

We are like a country after war, says Jardine. “Our national balance sheet is under excessive strain and our economic and social infrastructure is collapsing. Times of emergency cry out for emergency response.”

The party proposes:

A wealth tax of 1.5% each year, for 3 years

A corporate tax increase of 4.2%, for 3 years

An individual tax increase of 4.5% for 3 years, for those earning more than R1.8-million a year.

A 1% annual charge on retirement funds for 3 years

This bold measure aims to bridge the gap between different sectors of society, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive. “By investing in social safety nets and economic opportunities, we will stimulate the economy and build a more just and equitable nation for all,” says Jardine.

Strategic investments for long-term growth

The ReGrow Fund will prioritise investments in human infrastructure, corporate support, micro-enterprise development, and targeted industry growth in the technology, tourism, and energy sectors. This initiative represents a collective commitment to an integrated and inclusive future, where every South African can thrive.

Comprehensive Policy Initiatives

In addition to the ReGrow Fund, Change Starts Now outlines several key policy areas focusing on infrastructure, social welfare, healthcare, crime prevention, and state rebuilding. These are designed to address immediate challenges while laying the groundwork for sustained growth and stability.

“Our vision for the country is a clarion call to action, inviting all citizens to participate in shaping a prosperous future,” says Jardine. “South Africa has the skills, the experts and the sheer will to do great things. The party commits to ongoing dialogue, research, and consultation to refine and implement these proposals, promising to initiate these changes immediately if elected.”

Be the change

More and more, people in South Africa are asking for change from a dysfunctional country of broken dreams. Change Starts Now asks you to be the change you want to see. Join the initiative to make South Africa a better country. Work for change in your communities. Help Change Starts Now to persuade other South Africans to choose a better future. Register to vote. Vote for the South Africa you deserve.

Issued by Change Starts Now, 19 February 2024