Job creation is the path to Madiba’s dream - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says no one is affected more harshly by unemployment than the 'born free' generation

Job creation is the path to Madiba’s dream

18 July 2015

Note to Editors: The following remarks were made by the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at the Bokamoso Community Project Centre in Dobsonville, Soweto, in celebration of Nelson Mandela Day. The Leader was accompanied by DA Regional Chairperson and Constituency Leader, Khume Ramulifho MPL.

Today, across the world, millions of people are honouring the memory of iconic leader, President Nelson Mandela.

I am humbled by the efforts of those who are helping to realise Madiba’s dream of changing people’s lives for the better. Madiba aimed to restore human dignity by empowering individuals and communities to take charge of their destinies.

Madiba recognised that the evil system of Apartheid had robbed millions of South Africans of opportunities, and their sense of self-worth. He championed the belief that a democratic South Africa was about more than just empowering the disenfranchised, but about restoring pride to all South Africans.

I have come to Soweto to engage with small businesses and entrepreneurs this morning because I believe that perhaps the most fundamental requirement for a sense of self-worth is the ability to utilise ones talents and skills in the performance of a job.

Unemployment is arguably the single biggest problem facing our democracy as it has the power to break down our social fabric.

Having a job provides more than just the means to earn a salary and support a family, but it provides individuals with a sense of purpose in life. When people are deprived of the opportunity to work we destroy their independence and dignity.

Mandela Day is based on the belief that “cumulative action, even starting with one small step, can be transformative.” I commend all those individuals who today are taking smalls steps towards transformation. These small steps, when taken together, can have an immeasurable impact.

But in order to solve the overwhelming problem faced by the fact that 1 in 3 South Africans are without work, we also require big steps.

Madiba recognised this truth when he said in 1999 that “we should lay the scourge of racism to rest. This requires strong democratic institutions and a culture of compassion. None of this is possible without a strong economy.”

We talk about the so-called “born free” generation, but in truth no one is affected more harshly by unemployment that young people. Of those who are unemployed, 2 out of every 3 are young people.

If we want to restore hope and dignity to this generation we need to take bold and decisive action to deal with the problem of unemployment.

Nelson Mandela once said that “We are not yet free…We have merely achieved the freedom to be free”.

Unemployment has increased from 30.4% in 2009, to 36.1% in 2015. This is arguably the biggest challenge to building the South African that Nelson Mandela and his peers fought for.

The DA believes that central to solving this problem is stimulating economic growth through empowering small business and entrepreneurs. We must equip young people who have the ambition and desire to be successful with the tools to achieve this success.

Organisations such as the National Small Business Forum (NSBF), with whom I have met today, are working tirelessly to assist small businesses to grow and prosper. Through their efforts, and the efforts of similar organisations, we can break down the Berlin Wall that separates those who are included in the economy, from those who remain left out.

The DA will continue our work with the NSBF across South Africa to build a culture of entrepreneurship in our society. Job creation is the only path to freedom, a value that lies at the heart of the DA’s vision for South Africa.

South Africa is a land of great potential inhabited by hard-working and freedom-loving people. In order to unlock this potential we need to work together to overcome the legacy of the past by expanding the opportunity available to all South Africans in the future.

In May this year the DA adopted a new Values Charter underpinned by our belief in Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity. This Values Charter serves as the foundation for Vision 2029 – a vision for a South Africa after 10 years of a DA-led government.

This is a vision for a vibrant and dynamic country where opportunity is not limited by the circumstances of one’s birth, but only through the choices we make in pursuit of their dreams.

This requires that we level the playing field and make sure that all children in South Africa can share in good quality education and have access to funding to go to university if they so choose. Our children must be equipped with the skills to be active participants in the economy.

And it further requires that we reduce the barriers to entry into the economy take make it easier to get businesses off the ground.

I have met today with small business owners in Dobsonville who have shared their struggles against red tape, ineffective bureaucracy and difficulty in finding start-up capital.

A DA-led government would slash red tape, as we have done in the Western Cape through the Red Tape Reduction Unit, and establish a National Venture Capital Fund to assist start-ups to find funding.

And we would invest in key economic infrastructure, such as ICT and the energy sector, to ensure that our economy has a solid foundation from which to grow.

These are initiatives and policies that the DA is fighting for in Parliament, Legislatures and Councils because we believe in the economic opportunities that entrepreneurship can unlock.

Nelson Mandela fought for freedom, but freedom without economic opportunity is meaningless. The best way to honour Madiba’s memory is to build an inclusive economy that allows for all our people to live a life they value.

This was Madiba’s dream, and this is the vision the DA has for South African.

Together we can, and we will, build a free and fair society where all South Africans will have access to the opportunities that give life and meaning to our hard won freedoms.

Issued by the DA, July 18 2015