Speaking at his party’s Reconciliation Day event in Eldorado Park on Sunday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the holiday was a day to “celebrate our unity as a nation”.
He said it was necessary, though, to reflect on how quickly reconciliation was happening.
“Are we even still moving in the right direction? Because at times it feels like we are drifting further apart from each other.”
He said structural racism had been dealt with through legislation, “but we must now deal with our attitudes towards each other”.
“We must find better ways of listening to and hearing each other. True reconciliation is only possible through proper dialogue, and this is crucial if we want to work together to fix our country.”
Maimane said economic opportunities for people needed to be unlocked to “bridge the historic divides that still lie between us”.
“One such thing is ensuring that young people get a foot on the jobs ladder by offering them internships, apprenticeships and the chance to do a year of national civilian service. Another is fixing our broken education system. And yet another important intervention is sustainable land reform.”
He slammed “fake revolutionaries” in South Africa who were merely pretending to care about poverty and disempowerment.
He called them “dishonest politicians who exploit the real frustrations and hardships of people for their own power and wealth”.
“They create the illusion that they stand on the side of the poor. Some of them will even go as far as wearing the overalls of the working class or the uniforms of domestic workers as part of this illusion, but these are just props and costumes for their act.
“Here in South Africa, both the ANC and the EFF fall into this category. There’s a word for such people. We call them populists, and they prey on vulnerable people’s desperation. They make promises that sound too good to be true, because they are too good to be true. They have no intention of ever fulfilling these promises.
“They will say whatever they think people want to hear in order to get their votes. They will use language and names that sound progressive, while robbing their own people blind.
“They speak of Radical Economic Transformation, while they really mean Radical Wealth Accumulation.
“They speak of Black Economic Empowerment, while they really mean ANC Crony Enrichment.
“And they speak of Land Reform and Land Restitution, while they really mean state control and ownership of all land, including the land owned by poor South Africans.”
Maimane said the land was very important and emotive because for centuries, the majority of the country’s people had been denied the right to not only live where they wanted to live, but to own their own land, and to pass this land on to their children.
“Justice and redress demands that we correct this, and that we do so quickly.”
He said that if done properly it would build a stronger, more united South Africa in which where more people had access to the economy and more people could build their own wealth.
“But in the hands of the populists, it simply becomes a tool for dividing people and whipping up anger. When both the EFF and ANC talk about land reform, their only goal is to create a divide – an enemy – and then exploit the issue for votes.
“They don’t want South Africans to own their own land. They don’t want you to be able to grow an investment, access capital or pass this on to your children. They want you to live at the mercy of the state – forever a tenant.”
He pointed to the successes of the DA’s land reform efforts in particularly the Western Cape, where since 2009 the party had handed over more than 100,000 title deeds.
“In the past four years the Western Cape’s DA government has supported 357 land reform projects. The province boasts an agricultural land reform success rate of over 60%, while elsewhere in South Africa only 10% of these projects succeed. That’s what I mean when I say sustainable land reform.
“And the DA has done all of this within the framework of the Constitution. It was never necessary to break our Constitution – that was all just part of the ANC and EFF’s populist campaign.”
He then named various individuals who he said had benefited from DA government programmes.
“Beware of those who use land as a rallying cry and who want to amend our Constitution. They’re not doing this to make any of you property owners. They are doing so to take control of all South Africans’ property, whether black or white, rich or poor.
“And while they are doing so, the DA continues to fight for real land reform. On this site here, [Johannesburg] Mayor Mashaba has decided to take rental property which had fallen into disrepair over years of ANC neglect, and to fix them up and hand them over with full title to those who have occupied the flats for a specific period of time.”