It gives me great pleasure to see this official website of our party unveiled. It is my fervent hope that it will help to draw more South Africans together to continue what began halfway through 2013 and finally ended with the formation of the Patriotic Alliance, which is pooling the collective leadership powers of many powerful South African voices, all calling for a country with more shared prosperity, less crime and much cleaner and more efficient governance for all.
The PA has been born out of the crucible of politics in the Western Cape, though it has a vision for all of South Africa.
I was reluctant to enter the political fray ahead of the 2014 general elections, but I am proud of the direction the PA is taking and the credible political voice it will offer the electorate. Despite the fact that the party did not win any seats in the 2014 elections, I am not discouraged. We managed to do better in those elections, despite being less than a year old, than many other parties who have been around for 20 years or more. We won the trust of more than 13 000 voters, and those people believe in us. There will be more of them in future and we cannot disappoint any of our voters.
This party will continue and grow and become a force to be reckoned with, as early as the next municipal elections.
The PA can renew the old vision of a prosperous and just South Africa that is open to all, a vision that is increasingly being swept away by extreme rhetoric on the one hand and weak, ineffective governance on the other. Our people are resigning themselves to the need to be led by a competent government — but this cannot happen at any cost.
Once the PA begins to win the hearts and minds of the majority in South Africa, both nationally and in the provinces, the ANC and the DA in particular will realise their mistake in simply taking for granted that the people they have taken for granted will keep voting for them.
While the governance failings of the ANC are well known, it remains astonishing that the DA's failings are consistently glossed over in the media. When DA leader Helen Zille was given an award for being the world’s best mayor in 2008, she presided over the very same gang violence that claims the lives of our youth every day. She presided over the same bucket toilets in townships and the scourge of drugs was unchanged. When her city illegally evicts the shack dwellers who live in Marikana, it's hard to come across a headline in a daily paper.
The DA continues to practise outright denialism in its politics – Zille and her party would have us believe that the unfair society we have inherited is being expected to fix itself somehow, when it was created by extremely prejudiced and unfair governments in the past. Only a new government will really be able to remake our society into something that we all can share.
There has been no political will to radically change the conditions of those whose way of life was defined by centuries of oppression and ultimately by apartheid. That political will remains a vague promise to the people and life continues to be brutal for those who live in South African townships, those on the Flats who are forced into gang life for the simple promise of protection or because they cannot afford the rent on their flats (the ownership of which should have been signed over to them long ago), those who are virtual slaves on our farms, those who labour on boats when the big fishing quotas go to big corporations at the seeming cost of their birthright — and the hundreds of thousands more who cannot even dream of a job. No plan exists to show how new economies will be created that will offer the masses an alternative to a life of crime, denigration and ultimate despair.
No hope is being created, neither by the ANC nor the DA, when our people are crying out for hope, for someone to tell them that there is a plan — a concrete, viable, good plan — to make their tomorrow better than today.
The PA is the alternative that will offer a voice and a future to the downtrodden. It is working with community leaders from all walks of life — from the head of the police station to the head of the criminal gang, from the mayors of small towns who are tired of politics as usual, to the young school leaver who fears that the world beyond the school fence holds nothing for him or her. The PA understands that we are in this society together and we all hold the keys to unlocking the solution, just as we have entrapped ourselves by voting into power leaders who do not put the interests of society at large first.
In the Western Cape, the PA already has a foundation among the coloured population, partly because of my own background, but that is certainly not where this bus will stop. The PA wants to see more South Africans unite under its banner, knowing that years of hard work and sacrifice are ahead, but this must be faced with courage to create a better country that we can all be part of and proud of.