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MAKASHULE GANA: DA only party that can realise hopes of all S. Africans

Makashule Gana was in the running to lead the Democratic Alliance. However, John Steenhuisen was elected to lead the party on Sunday, 17 November. Here’s what Gana told the Federal Council delegates before the election result was announced.

Leaders, fellow democrats

I stand before you as a proud South African, a committed member and activist of the Democratic Alliance (DA). I believe that the DA is the only party that can carry and realise the hopes of millions of South Africans who continue to live in poverty, who live in fear of criminals and are at the mercy of untrustworthy politicians. They feel abandoned and do not know what the future holds for them.

We are the only hope they have of building a fair society, but there is work to do first.

This moment demands that we redefine our politics and change the trajectory of our country to the path of growth and prosperity.

To do this we have to redefine ourselves, to state unambiguously what we stand for and how we will build a fair society by focusing our energies on economic, social and environmental justice.

It is a commitment we must make to ourselves and to broader society. We exist to make South Africa a better place to live.

We have to answer two important questions:

• what should South Africa expect from the DA and;
• what should the DA expect of itself?

After each election ordinary people lose faith in politicians, political parties and political institutions in general. This trend is dangerous and can destroy our democracy and lead to populist chaos.

For this reason, it is necessary that the DA grows, becomes strong and proves its commitment to addressing the daily challenges faced by many South Africans.

These are poverty, inequality, dysfunctional communities and economic exclusion, among others.

South Africans want a DA that is committed to building an inclusive society, where people have a decent chance at realising their potential and their dreams.

It is a DA that will work to build strong state institutions so that we will never have to experience state capture again.

South Africans expect from us to be authentic and true to ourselves about our commitment to building an inclusive South Africa. We can't fake it.

If we fail to show South Africans that the DA can be trusted in its commitment to break the inequalities that continue to divide our nation so we can build an inclusive society, we will become irrelevant.

If we still aspire to be in government nationally, we must show South Africans that we are capable of pursuing policies that can unlock opportunities for prosperity for all South Africans. And not just only pander to the fears of our base.

Our fellow members, leaders, staff members and activists expect us to have clarity and unity of purpose, so they can build a DA that the majority of South Africans can regard as their political home.

I believe that we can only achieve this when we consistently embrace the values enshrined in our Constitution, recognise the dignity and diversity of South Africans and do our work in a manner that meets the highest ethical standards.

This is not the time to put our heads down. We must face our members and supporters and show them we are committed to this. That we will restore the trust in brand DA. It is in our hands. It starts with us. It starts today.

Viva DA!

Makashule Gana is a politician who serves as a member of the Gauteng provincial legislature for the opposition Democratic Alliance.

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