Patricia de Lille’s National Congress speech - ‘Bridging the Divides – the State of our Nation, the State of our Party’

07-07- 2007,12H45, ID Leader focuses on phenomenal ID growth, economic freedom for the poor, the ANC’s ‘succession conference’, the ID’s belief that the President should be elected at the ballot box, crime, Government’s failure to implement policies, the Government’s handling of the public servant’s strike and floor-crossing.

This is her speech…

‘Bridging the Divides – the State of our Nation, the State of our Party’

Your Excellencies, Honourable Members of Parliament, Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislatures, Mayors and Deputy-Mayors, Councillors and members of the media,

today we gather here as fastest growing political party in our country since freedom in 1994. And I have very good news for all of you – we are well on our way to achieving one million votes in 2009.

The signs are there; written in the results of most of the by-elections we have fought this year. The ID has participated in by-elections in Kwazulu-Natal, the Western Cape, North West Province, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. Looking at the results of the by-elections in Riviersonderend and Drakenstein, it is clear that the ID will be campaigning for the Government of the Western Cape in 2009.

For example, in last year’s Municipal Elections in Riviersonderend, the ID had 38 votes, but this year we got 401. That is an increase of 1000%. The ID attracted people who had been outside of the political spectrum for too long. They were disillusioned and felt disenfranchised by the ANC/DA and they found a safe home in the ID.

After that we took Drakenstein in Paarl away from the ANC. The ANC thought it would always be theirs, but they were wrong. This is proof that the ANC and the DA, with all their resources and strategies and expensive research and surveys, can easily be beaten. In all by-elections we ask the people to give us a chance and they did.
All over our beautiful country there is more good news. We have become a fully-fledged political party with representation at all levels of government. In the Northern Cape we are already the official opposition in local government in 90% of the municipalities and we are going to be the official opposition in the province in 2009.

We said we would bridge the divides and that is what we are doing across the country. The ID has managed to achieve its goal to give South Africans from all backgrounds renewed hope in our country’s future. Our party has become a meeting place for all. Wherever I travel in our country, whether I speak to young black entrepreneurs in Gauteng, Afrikaans farmers in the Free State, coloured intellectuals across the country, English-speaking progressives and business leaders, the message is clear – there is no such thing as a no-go area for the ID. There are no racial or geographical boundaries for the ID and we fear no-one but God. From the 45 000 members we had in 2004, we have increased our membership to 160 000. So I will say it again – in 2009 one million voters will respond to our message of bridging the divides.

After 13 years of democracy there is an urgent need for us to protect the gains of the struggle and provide South Africans with a new and positive vision, a vision that will one day bring about economic freedom for all our people; that will one day enable our children to walk safely through our streets; that will one day allow all South Africans to enjoy their constitutional rights; and that will give us the power to one day restore the social fabric of our society.

The ID is the pioneer of a new type of opposition, one that is loyal to our country, an honest opposition with integrity, an opposition that is passionate and loves this country, an opposition that holds Government to account and roots out corruption. It is an opposition that puts our millions of poor citizens first and that engages with Government, one that acknowledges their successes but is vicious and uncompromising when they mess up our country.

Phansi ge-corruption Phansi! Phansi ge-corruption, Phansi!

At our Policy Conference in Johannesburg we reached consensus on what makes us better than the ANC and the DA. The ANC wants a nanny state where the state runs everything. The DA wants the market to run everything and believes in survival of the fittest. The ID believes that the market and the state have an important role to play, with the involvement of our people. The market and the state have limits, but the abilities and the potential of our people are limitless. The poor are poorer if they do not have a voice and the ID is providing that voice. The ID believes in people-centered development. We believe the people of our country are more than capable to run everything. The people gave us freedom, now we must give them Government. As social democrats, we do not want to do things for the people, we do things with the people. The ID wants to unlock their potential.

The problems of the poor are the problems of the rich. Through the upliftment of the poor, the social fabric of our society will be healed. Bridging the divides between the rich and the poor means less crime against both the rich and the poor. As a nation we are struggling every day to rebuild the social fabric of our society. We are living in a sick society where young children are raped, abused and murdered, almost on a daily basis. We are living in a society where 11-year old Annestacia Wiese is found murdered in the roof of her mother’s house. Where the body of two-year old Sonja Brown is found only weeks after six-year old Mikayla Rossouw was murdered in Swellendam. There is absolutely no justification for these horrendous crimes. Women and children are supposed to be loved and cared for, and not abused. I challenge our communities to break the silence and to expose these family members who are committing these crimes. We should not worry about the shame that this will bring on our families, because as communities we should be on the side of our most vulnerable. Those of us who do not speak up before it is too late have the blood of these children on our hands. The family and the home should be the safest places in our society and not a crime scene. We must remove these evil people from our society, one by one and for good. The slaughter of our children shows no signs of stopping. Who can blame the families and communities affected for wanting justice? I predict that we are on the edge of a massive uprising by the decent people who see no action from the State. History has shown that society will only take so much before they begin to execute justice themselves. I fear we are not far away from this. Innocent people will probably become casualties as the desire for revenge takes over our communities. That is always the tragedy when people take the law into their own hands and we must guard against this.

I am angry and bitter about these murders because as a society we are not doing enough to protect our children. Our children belong to all of us and we must protect them with the fundamental spirit of ubuntu that says ‘your child is my child’. As adults and communities we must all take responsibility for our children. The latest crime statistics are shocking. For the past 18 months the ID has pushed for the convening of a crime summit, bringing together all sectors of society to discuss solutions on how to deal with crime. In his State of the Nation Address in February President Mbeki instructed Parliament to call a summit on crime, poverty and transformation. Almost five months on, the summit is not even on the parliamentary agenda. Parliament has failed the nation. The ID has now written to the Speaker to force Parliament to deliver on this mandate. The responsibility to deal with crime rests with the three arms of Government and communities.

The Government is good at developing policies, but they are bad at implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The ID has now set its own agenda on what we stand for and we have formulated the necessary policies to breath life into it. The future of South Africa will be decided through the right policies. At our Policy Conference we refined our specific policies to be focussed on women and the youth. The ID is determined to successfully promote and filter our policies to our structures. Unlike the Government, we will also continue to monitor and evaluate our policies in consultation with the structures. Through this we will continue to bridge the divides of the past. The challenge for our National Congress this weekend is to elect men and women who can successfully promote and implement the ID’s policies. By doing so, they will be part of the massive drive to reach our goal of one million votes.

I will never forget a conversation I had with a Tswana-speaking ANC leader in the North West Province. He had resigned from his position in the ANC to join the new vision of the Independent Democrats. As we all know, he is one of thousands of South Africans who have done the same. When I asked him why he chose the ID, he looked at me and said, without hesitation, ‘The ID is much better than the ANC.’

The ANC’s recent policy conference should rather have been called the succession conference. They have been more obsessed with personalities and power than with policies for the people. It is time that South Africa considers the option of directly electing our President at the ballot box.

An ID Government would also pay our public servants properly. They are the backbone of our society and we need a highly motivated and highly trained public service to create a developmental state. Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi treated our public servants with contempt. For 8 months she did everything she could to ensure there would be a strike. But there was one positive thing about the strike. I want to thank the workers for making such a massive contribution to nation-building. It made me happy to see so many people from all race groups striking together against their difficult working conditions. It is the right time for white people to learn to toyi-toyi, because the ID and the workers are still going to do a lot of it.

We need a Government that can spend money as well as it collects it. It is criminal that while our poor continue to suffer billions of rand go unspent. Unlike the Government, the ID has been spending on delivery in the municipalities where we now govern. We have laid the foundation for bridging the divides of the past and we will continue with our hard work. We have ensured that the social development components of our budgets are spent. For example, in Cape Town it was the ID that achieved an increase in the ‘rebateable’ household income from R3 500 to R5 000. It was the ID that achieved an increase in the monthly water grant from R20 to R30. In addition, we brought the rebates for refuse removal up to properties valued at R300 000. We insisted that rebates for senior citizens and the disabled be increased from R4 500 to R5 000. Through the intervention of the ID we were able to increase social spending by R192 million. We used our independence and told the DA their budget was not pro-poor and forced them to change it. Through our delivery strategy we are beginning to change the national mindset - the ANC says the State must decide, the DA says the market must decide, but the ID says the people must decide.

It makes me proud to have so many talented leaders of the Independent Democrats here today. You are not only the future of our party, but also the future of our country. Every one of you is part of a new vision that is sweeping across our nation. At least you are on the right side. South Africa is facing another floor-crossing period in September and I want to appeal to all elected leaders to consider the following questions: do you want to be part of the fastest growing political party in South Africa?; do you want to be part of the victory celebrations as we take by-elections?; and lastly, do you want to be there at the front in 2009, when we achieve our one million votes for bridging the divides? Those of you who cannot find the right answers to these questions and still want to betray our voters can leave now.

Look how many times other parties have tried to stop the ID – they have used every dirty trick in the book. They have tried to smear me and they failed. They have tried to buy ID people and they failed. They have tried to manipulate the media and they failed. When will they finally see that the more they attack us the stronger we get? Last year they told us the party was over – last week we beat the DA and the ANC in Drakenstein. There is an old saying in they should remember, ‘If you can’t beat them join them’. I therefore invite those of them that haven’t joined us already to join us.

No victory speech would be complete without us paying homage to those who won us our freedom. They came together from all walks of life and fought for our freedom – Nelson Mandela, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Bram Fischer, Steve Biko, Ahmed Timol, Neil Agget, Barney Desai and all those unsung heroes and heroines.

In Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote,

‘I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.’

Looking at your faces today, I recognise some of you who were with me in the struggle. My message to you today is that we have climbed the first hill to political freedom, but now we must climb the next hill to economic freedom. There is no time to rest for even a moment – with the growth of our party comes responsibilities. The work has not yet ended. Together we can bridge the divides. So let us climb this hill together.

I thank you,

Patricia de Lille

President of the Independent Democrats
Released by Steven Otter – 084 233 3811
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