‘Nothing less than a self-made catastrophe': DA's Steenhuisen on ‘true state of the nation'

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‘Nothing less than a self-made catastrophe’: DA’s Steenhuisen on ‘true state of the nation’
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DA leader John Steenhuisen has delivered what the party calls “a true state of the nation [Sona] address”.

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It comes two days before President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver his Sona in Cape Town on Thursday.

Steenhuisen said the party believes Ramaphosa will rehash his previous speeches and offer no real solutions to the problems facing the country.

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He said the true state of the nation was that of a country moving further towards a failed state with no functioning infrastructure, rising unemployment and a lack of security.

“If you want to know the true state of our nation, don’t take the president’s word for it, and don’t take my word for it either. Go see for yourself. Take a drive through the towns and villages of provinces like the Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo or KwaZulu-Natal, and some of our largest cities in Gauteng,” said Steenhuisen.

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“The scale of the decay you’ll encounter is staggering: potholes, cracked pavements, litter, uncollected refuse, sewage spills, broken street lights, broken traffic lights, dry taps, electricity substations stripped bare, train stations carried off piece by piece, schools vandalised, hospitals only partly operational and long queues at clinics, police vehicles sitting unused and unusable at police stations.”

He charged that it was only in the DA-run Western Cape and municipalities where residents benefited from a working government. DA-run towns were the only islands of hope in the country, he said, showing things can be done differently.

“Over the past two years, in every wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the DA-run Western Cape made sure there were always enough hospital beds and oxygen, while the DA-run City of Cape Town delivered chronic TB and HIV medication to people at home.

“Only in the Western Cape did school feeding schemes continue to feed children during hard lockdown and school closures. Only in the Western Cape did crèches continue getting subsidies,” he said.

The successes of the DA, especially in the Western Cape, on critical governance issues such as the provision of electricity, public transport and policing, show what a post-ANC country could look like, he said.

Steenhuisen said very little was working in other towns and parts resembled a war zone. South Africans should not let the president pull the wool over their faces.

“Don’t let the president tell you this level of unemployment and desperation is normal and that all countries took a knock in the past two years. There is nothing natural or inevitable about our jobs numbers and the inability to make that graph head back in the other direction while economies across the world are recovering. This is nothing less than a self-made catastrophe.”

He said this started long before the Covid-19 pandemic because the ANC was preoccupied with infighting and has been failing to govern.

“One by one, every critical function of the state has simply seized up. Our state power utility cannot supply sufficient electricity. Water infrastructure is collapsing. Sewage treatment plants no longer work. The rail network has all but collapsed. That is the true state of our nation.”

ANC ‘a crime syndicate’

Steenhuisen charged the ANC was more like a crime syndicate and terrorist organisation than a political party and said SA would not survive being governed by the party.

“Our country will not survive the destruction caused by their greed and internal warfare much longer,” he said.

 “Some of us have known this for a long time, others are realising it now. As a country, we can no longer deny the party of national government, the ANC, bears no resemblance to the liberation movement that took office in 1994.”

He said there was change needed in government, which could become reality in the 2024 national general elections given the outcome of the local government elections last year.

The ANC failed to win a majority of votes last year, resulting in the loss of critical metropolitan municipalities, especially in Gauteng. This was a profound shift in voting trends as many people did not vote, and those who did chose other parties and not the ANC, as had been the norm since 1994.

“With two years to go to the next national election, this sea change presents a crucial opportunity to dramatically change the trajectory of our country.

“The 2021 elections showed that an ANC government is no longer an inevitability and there is a real chance of replacing it with a coalition built around reform, accountability and the rule of law. But such is the speed and scale of the looting and destruction that we may have this one chance only. Our country is being stripped bare, liquidated and set alight as we speak.”

Reformed Judicial Service Commission

Steenhuisen said the DA would table a bill in parliament to change how the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is constituted. This, he said, will be aimed at removing the influence of politicians from the JSC.

The DA is not happy with how judges were treated during the recent chief justice interviews, he said.

“Ominously, the bulwark of our democracy, the judiciary, remains under threat from within the ANC itself, as well as from a JSC dominated by political actors allied to the corruption epidemic.

“Last week some of our most distinguished judges were subjected to the most appalling and undermining questioning by JSC members aligned with the forces of corruption and violence destroying our country. The JSC requires urgent reform to remove the influence of politicians, and the DA will table a bill to this effect.”

Metrorail control

Steenhuisen said the City of Cape Town would also be challenging national government for control of Metrorail passenger trains. 

“If it succeeds in this challenge and manages to turn this failing service around and integrate it with rapid bus and taxi transport, hundreds of thousands of commuters will return to safe, affordable rail transport.”

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