Opposition parties see 2019 election as most important since 1994

South African opposition parties clearly have an eye on the elections in the new year, as they wished South Africans a happy 2019.

In his New Years' message, opposition leader Mmusi Maimane didn't reflect much on 2018, but looked straight ahead to 2019, a year in which he wants to see a united South Africa. He was also the only leader who released a statement that didn't refer to the looming elections.  

"I would like to wish all South Africans a prosperous 2019 on behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA). Whilst 2018 brought with it a number of changes and challenges, we have within us the resilience as a nation to build a brighter future in 2019," Maimane said in a statement.

"Our priorities should be to build an economy that is inclusive, ensure all are safe in their homes and deliver better basic services."

He said the economy must accommodate the matriculants who will leave school this year and inspire hope to all people.

"2019 must be a year where we build on our 1994 consensus of constitutionalism and non-racialism. South Africa must belong to all who live in it regardless of race, gender or the circumstances of their birth," said Maimane.

"This is crucial as we go into an election where many will seek to divide. We must unite as South Africans against the efforts of those who seek to divide us."

Economic emancipation

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in his statement not only wished South Africans a happy new year, but also "the continent and the people of the world".

"We must all welcome the new year with great anticipation at the opportunity to advance the cause of human freedom in general, and economic emancipation in particular," he said.

He said in 2018 the EFF managed to highlight the conditions in our public healthcare system.

"As a year of public healthcare, we held over 400 public demonstrations in public healthcare institutions," he said.

He said the party also "consolidated our internal and grassroots organizational development" and boasted about the EFF's "impeccable parliamentary record in 2018".

"We have managed to lead the country into discussing the amendment of our constitution to realize expropriation of land without compensation for equal redistribution. Parliament not only became a lively house of public representatives, it went out to the ground to interact with masses across the country on one of the most divisive issues in modern history: land reform.

"In many countries across the world, the land question breeds violence and war, however 2018 showed that South Africa can truly hold participatory and democratic debates without a single drop of blood on a heavily contentious issue."

He also mentioned that the EFF tabled amendment bills relating to nationalization of banks, establishment of a state bank, banning of alcohol advertisement, insourcing and dealing with illicit financial flows.

He did not mention VBS.

"We call on all South Africans to grow in optimism and anticipation of 2019 as it too will be a great year for the advancement of economic freedom in our lifetime.

"We must all enjoy the cross over to the new year responsibly so that we can all make it into 2019. All who are traveling, let us not drink and drive. We must take necessary breaks on the road so we don’t suffer fatigue. Above all, we must resist all forms of violence and child neglect. We must take care of each other, from parents to neighbours," said Ndlozi.

"The year 2019 is the year of the most important national general elections since 1994. No other time will each vote actually count to tilt the scales of political power than in this coming year. Let us be ready to cast these votes and advance the realisation of economic freedom in our lifetime."

Difficult year

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he senses South Africans are heaving a collective sigh of relief that 2018 is almost over.

"This has been a difficult year in many respects. February’s new dawn instantly evaporated in the heat of revelations over state capture and corruption. The rot has been exposed in 2018, and it runs deeper than we ever thought," reads his statement.

"Marry this to the uncertainty over land expropriation, and it’s an unhappy marriage indeed. We fervently pray that 2018 will not be remembered as the tipping point for South Africa’s decline from technical recession to economic bankruptcy, from social tensions to racial violence, and from constitutional amendments to land grabs, disinvestment and agricultural collapse. That is not an inevitable future," he said.

He said the start of 2019 is an opportunity to change course.

"One of the most fundamental ways to achieve this is through our votes. In May 2019, the national and provincial elections could place South Africa on an entirely new trajectory. We can leave behind uncertainty, tensions and fear, to reclaim the driver’s seat. But to do that, we will need to change our national discourse in the next few months."

"We need to stop speaking in tones of defeat, anger and war-mongering. Yes, there are people raising tensions in South Africa; but are we going to give them the central platform of every conversation, or are we going to respond in the opposite spirit?"

Like Maimane, he too called for unity.  

"The spirit of fear can only be expunged by a spirit of love and hope. There are amazing initiatives being birthed in our communities to bring people together, to build, uplift, heal and unify. Let’s join our energy to those initiatives, speaking life into our nation."

Pressure from opposition

Looking back on 2018, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said "South Africa saw the pressure exerted by opposition parties, over the past three years, culminating in the resignation of a self-serving and negligent president".

"Our unwavering insistence led to commissions of inquiry being instituted to start rooting out the cancer of institutional corruption in government," he said in his statement.

"Notwithstanding the ruling party’s leadership moving in the right direction, there is an unwillingness to have the perpetrators of corruption arrested. Its so-called self-correcting nature has proven to be a castle in the air."

He said the coming year is an opportunity for voters to consider whether they want to put their trust in a party that places "unbridled looting of resources before the people of South Africa".

"We wish all who live in this country a blessed New Year. Let’s declare 2019 a year of action to fix the problems that embarrassed South Africa and its people in recent years."

Important vote

In wishing South Africans a happy New Year, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota called upon all loyal South Africans "to ensure that they make use of the up-coming voter registration weekend to ensure that they are registered to vote in the May 2019 elections for good, clean and progressive governance".

"Our message to all South Africans is that: ‘the future is in yours hands’. In May 2019 you will have your greatest democratic tool at your disposal – your  VOTE!" reads his statement.

"With your vote we can defeat those dark forces intent on seizing people’s land without compensation.

"With your vote we can craft a set of policies to attract investment and create jobs.

"With your vote we can re-create the hope of a better life for all – and ensure government by the people and for the benefit of the people, under the Constitution.

"With your vote we can re-build our nation into one in which we all stand united and committed behind a common vision - so succinctly and poetically set out in the preamble to our Constitution."

He described 2019's election as the most important since the advent of democracy in 1994.

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