Eskom load shedding state of disaster

DA leader, John Steenhuisen.
Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Ramaphosa is the ‘incapable head of an incapable state’, says DA’s Steenhuisen

‘The truth simply doesn’t fit the narrative’, said DA interim leader John Steenhuisen in his alternative SONA on Wednesday.

Eskom load shedding state of disaster

DA leader, John Steenhuisen.
Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is heading an incapable state and South Africans are surviving despite, not thanks to the government, Steenhuisen said in Cape Town on Wednesday in his alternative State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Steenhuisen spoke to assembled journalists, as well as DA stalwarts, on a sweltering afternoon in the Mother City, a day before the real SONA is delivered by Ramaphosa in Parliament at 7pm on Thursday night.

Steenhuisen invokes spirit of Helen Suzman

Steenhuisen invoked the spirit of the late liberal stalwart Helen Suzman. 

“Her famous motto was, ‘Go see for yourself’. And by tirelessly visiting prisons, townships and funerals, by meeting with banned individuals and by writing and answering thousands of letters, she got to a truth that no one else in Parliament would ever admit to,” said Steenhuisen.

Fresh from a tour across the nation to see for himself, he claimed echoes of Suzman’s ordeal in Parliament persists: 

“Our Parliament has once again become a place of fairy tales and spin – where the ruling party will do all it can to present a sugar-coated version of the past, present and future, and hide the ugly truth from the people,” he claimed.

SA’s economic doomsday clock ticking

According to Steenhuisen, South Africa’s economic doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight.

“South Africans are all, in one way or another, victims of this government. Victims of its failure to deliver services, victims of load shedding, victims of unemployment and victims of the daily crime that government cannot protect them from.

“But they don’t dwell in their victimhood. All the people I spoke to were resilient and resourceful. They were hustling to get by in the face of indescribable obstacles. They are surviving despite this government,” Steenhuisen claimed.

He added that the people of South Africa are not the problem, and that they do not want to be dependent on the state.

Social grants a ‘shameful statistic’

“Despite the ANC government’s apparent pride in the size of its social grants programme, this is not a source of pride at all. In fact, 17 million grants each month is a shameful statistic. People don’t want this. They want dignity, independence and the freedom to choose,” said the DA leader, and added that South Africans survive despite what amounts to a daily onslaught from their own government.

According to Steenhuisen, South Africans know the threat that Eskom, expropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of the health industry hold for the battered economy. 

Steenhuisen hears it from the people

“Over the past two weeks I have heard first-hand accounts of how the failure of local and national government has caused untold suffering for people from all walks of life. These people will not get a mention in the president’s SONA speech.

“You will not hear about a community of 2 000 people on the outskirts of Upington that has not one single water tap between them, and have lived like this for the past eight years, or of the small businesses that line Mangaung’s Moshoeshoe Street which are now being forced, one by one, to close their doors because the metro government there has let the street fall into complete disrepair.

“You will not hear of the farmers in Limpopo who had to step up and do government’s job in containing the foot and mouth disease outbreak there, at great personal cost and sacrifice. You will not hear about the terrible overcrowding in places like Gauteng’s Tembisa Hospital which led to the deaths of 10 babies recently, while not far away the Kempton Park Hospital has stood empty and abandoned for two decades,” he predicted, because “the truth simply doesn’t fit the narrative”.

“Instead you are bound to hear that everything we ever dreamt of will be just around the next bend. You will be asked to give it a little more time – our turnaround is so close you can almost touch it. As it always is, year after year,” said Steenhuisen.

The elusive capable state and cadre deployment

He also predicted much talk in the SONA about a capable state. 

“In fact, I dare you to count the number of times he uses this phrase on the night. This elusive ‘capable state’ has become somewhat of a mantra for him in recent weeks,” he claimed, adding that the ANC’s deep ideological desire to control every single part of the state – and thereby control the lives of all citizens – is so baked into its DNA that it will never be able to walk away from cadre deployment.

“We’ve seen what cadre deployment has done to Eskom. We’ve seen what it has done to SAA. We’ve seen what it has done to Prasa, Denel, Transnet, SABC and every other state-owned enterprise.

“What I saw these past two weeks across the breadth of South Africa is the real state of our nation, and the true legacy of this ANC government: The Incapable State,” said Steenhuisen, coining a phrase.

“And the man who is meant to lead them out of this nightmare – the darling of the media and last hope of the once-proud ANC – is himself stuck in his own quicksand of warring factions and crippling indecisiveness. The incapable head of an incapable state,” stated the opposition leader.

Hit ‘reset button’ with DA

He therefore asked South Africans to coalesce around the DA to provide an alternative to the incapable state they are currently witnessing, to create a country where parents have more say in their children’s education, where healthcare is rid of the National Health Insurance (NHI) and where people feel safe.

“All of this is possible, but not with this current government. That is where we need to make the change. That is where we need to hit the reset button and organise ourselves in a new way around common values and a common vision for South Africa,” he said, to applause from his supporters.