DA leader Mmusi Maimane believes there are two South Africas: One for the economic insiders and one for economic outsiders.
Maimane was addressing an event on Tuesday, organised by the Cape Town Press Club at the Kelvin Grove Club in Newlands, Cape Town – where fees for ordinary members amount to more than R5 500 a year.
Maimane told the mostly white, elderly crowd of close to 400 people, that South Africa's history was one of division, between white and black, rich and poor, and ownership and dispossession.
He said the struggle for liberation was meant to change this, but the reality was that history was being repeated.
"I believe, today we do have two South Africas," he said, cutlery clanking as his audience tucked into their lunch.
"On the one side are those born into the right circumstances – those who receive quality education, those with access to opportunities, those who participate in the economy, those who own their property, those who know the right people and have friends in the right party. The economic insiders," Maimane said.
"And on the other side, are the millions of South Africans who find themselves locked out of all these opportunities. These are the people without a head start in life. Born into poverty, condemned to a failed education and cast out into a world of unemployment and hopelessness, they are economic outsiders."
He said any government intent on building an inclusive, prosperous South Africa would have made it their biggest priority to close this gap.
"But after 25 years of ANC government, this gap is wider than ever before."
He said the ANC government, much like other liberation movements on the continent, deliberately put up barriers between insiders and outsiders.
Maimane then elaborated on the "continuous struggle" for the outsiders – unemployment, a poor education system. His talk was interspersed with personal anecdotes about growing up in Dobsonville, Soweto, dropping his son for his first day of school last week and the time his wife's handbag was stolen and the police only cared when they saw her surname was Maimane.
He also slammed the ANC's manifesto that was launched over the weekend, focusing on employment.
He compared job creation figures in the DA-run Western Cape to the rest of the country and used these to show why a DA government was the solution to the gap he spoke of earlier.
"That is what you get in a DA government. We serve the people for whom we govern. We are not perfect but we aim high and we work hard, and it shows. We get stuff done," he said.
He shared the DA's five election pledges with the audience, whom had finished their lunch by then.
"We will fight corruption at every sphere and every level of government, and we will send those found guilty to jail for 15 years," he said.
"We will fix the South African Police Service so that it is able to protect and serve the citizens of this country. This means hiring more officers, training them properly and making sure they are well equipped. It means bringing back the disbanded specialist police units and appointing only qualified and capable SAPS leadership.
"We will grow an economy that's inclusive, and we will create fair access to jobs. This means no more cash for jobs, no more sex for jobs and no more jobs reserved for those with the right party connections and membership.
"We will secure our country's borders and fix Home Affairs so that those who want to enter here legally can do so, but those who want to come here illegally are kept out.
"We will speed up the delivery of basic services to all communities across South Africa."
While the audience listened seemingly attentive, amid the initial clank of cutlery and the odd murmur of approval, he first drew a smidgeon applause when he said: "I battle to understand why there are some parties so committed to the state owning the land and not the people."
During the question and answer session, Professor Anthony Butler of the University of Cape Town's department of political studies asked whether he was a liberal and whether it mattered.
"To my core, I believe in a liberal, democratic South Africa," Maimane answered, again drawing applause.
He was also asked about the DA's immigration policy and said he was not endorsing building a wall, and getting Zimbabwe to pay for it.