Today the DA is the only party still standing that is able to realise the dream of 20 years ago, a dream that South Africa would take care of our children, black, coloured, Indian and white; a South Africa that would never allow them to go hungry; a South Africa that protected their health, advanced their education and never exposed them to harm.
To realise this dream, the DA needs a new direction. What is required is an unyielding, consistent and vigorous strategy to build support across the diversity of our nation by addressing and communicating about the issues that concern voters most directly, particularly the lack of work opportunities, crime, poor education and inadequate healthcare.
My eight-point programme offer is as follows:
1 We will be firm on the principles for which we stand. Those principles are the advancement of freedom, respect for diversity, nonracialism, a market economy and a welfare net for the poor. We will fight for those principles every minute, every day, every week, every year, and never stop fighting.
2 We will listen more, include more, treat members with dignity and respect, even in moments of disagreement, and welcome contrary views. We will encourage rather than stifle debate. We will build people up, rather than break them down. This is how you build unity in a democratic party.
3 We are a party of opposition. We are a party of government. We must become a party of opportunity. We will fight the new indignity of our time, which is the indignity of not having work. The struggle for dignity was the struggle against apartheid. The struggle for dignity is now the struggle for work.
4 We will ensure that, where we govern, we govern well, as we have, so we can show that we don’t just talk about the dream, we are actually able to deliver the dream. This is how we will win more municipalities. This is how we will win more provinces. And this is how we will take the Union Buildings.
5 We will become an alternative to the ANC, not an alternate ANC. We will have a policy platform that is different from the ANC’s. We will focus on the DA’s growth and jobs plan, rather than flirt with the ANC’s National Development Plan. And we will do this so that we create opportunities for those who were shut out in the past.
6 To compete with the ANC, we need a considerable amount of money. Elections are becoming extremely expensive. With my extensive network, I am able to connect with funders with whom I have built up trust over the years and, with a credible plan for the DA’s growth, can secure unprecedented financial flows into the party.
7 We have an excellent operation in our party we have dubbed the “Blue Machine”. But it is not perfect. We will invest massively in the “ground war” at constituency level. We will stop the obsession with “box ticking” by reviewing the performance-management and development system and the tithing system, so that public representatives, especially councillors, are not left out of pocket.
8 We will modernise the party. We will restore internal democracy and make sure decisions are made by constitutional structures. The time of having one overwhelming leader is over.
We will review and modernise the leadership architecture so that there is coherence and genuine opportunity for leaders with talent, ability and commitment to rise on merit to the top. We will invest hugely in training all our young leaders.
The point of the enterprise is so that we can win more municipalities in 2016, more provinces in 2019 and take on national government by 2024.
In turn, the point is to better serve South Africans, especially those most needy and excluded from mainstream economic life by apartheid and subsequent monopolistic exclusionary practices in the economy that created a world of insiders, those with a job and home, and outsiders, those with neither a job nor home. It is not right.
We will therefore fight for people who do not have work; we will fight for people who are victims of crime; we will fight for people who do not have a decent education; we will fight for people who do not have shelter; we will fight for people who do not have access to healthcare.
Under my leadership, the DA will be a principled party; we will be a unified party; we will be a growing party; we will be a party of new ideas; we will be a fully funded party and we will be a winning party.
James is DA federal chairperson and a candidate for DA federal leader