Speech by Ben Turok during debate on the State of Nation Address

6 February 2006

Madame Speaker

Hon President

Hon Deputy President

I have always believed that it is important to keep up to date with what the opposition has to say. So I spent yesterday in
a useful reading of several DA documents, particulary the election manifestos of 2004 and 2006. I have them here.

The text was interesting, but what was really curious was that on nearly every page there was a photograph of one man, the
Hon Tony Leon.

In manifesto 2004 there were 14 photographs, and in 2006 there were 20 photographs. He appears on nearly every page . He is
on page 1,2 3,4,7,9,11,12, 14,15, and on and on this is a total of 36 photographs.

And, where is the Deputy leader, Joe Seramane ?
What are we to make of one who seeks such a high profile? Has he a future as a leader of this country?

I believe that he does not and so let us put his pictures in the Parliamentry basement where we keep photos of the past.
But maybe I am being unfair to the Hon Tony Leon, after all he takes his role very seriously. I have seen him on TV , on a
stage, with all the lights on him, waving his arms behaving like a man with a mission.
Curiously, Michael Stent wrote in the Cape Times 3 Feb 2006.
"Tony Leon shouldn't jerk his left arm up and down when he's speaking. It creates a bad impression. He looks like the
dictator of a small country in Africa."

But the Hon Leon is the leader of a party and we must take him seriously. We ask what does his party really stand for?

Mhlekazi : ndithetha nawe, mamela
Part of the answer appeared in the Cape Times last week, (2 Feb 2006) when the Hon Zille produced her thoughts on behalf of the DA, in what we might call, "the wisdom of the Hon Helen Zille"

She wrote: "we need to focus less on the colour of skin and more on the colour of money"

And, "we have to get race out of the economy"

And, "its not the colour of the people at the top that matters."

But the ANC believes that given our history, race does matter, and the colour or race of the people at the top matters a great deal. Where there is exclusive white control, it matters very much. In fact this principle strikes at the very root of our democratic aspirations.

Today's Cape Times carries an article by a black businesswoman who complains about "the continuous dismissal of race as an issue in the Western Cape". She says, " Black businesswomen witness every day how contracts and work are given to white companies which have no inclination to share and transform"

If the Hon Leon and Mrs Zille want to fight an election on the principle that race must get out of the economy and that the present cluster of people at the top can remain unchanged he will never win an election and she will not become mayor of Cape Town.

And bringing the corrupt Gerald Morkel back into DA public life is not going to help them either.

The press is aware of that. Last week Business Day carried a headline "local issues are election trojan horse for Helen "and Dave Marrs wrote, "the DA is capable of shooting itself in the foot"

The problem of who is at the top was exposed in the Sunday Times x-mas special edition.

Some very diligent researchers showed the following:

Of the 70 top earners in SA only 4 are black
And of the 157 most wealthy, only 9 are black.

For the DA whose support lies in a privileged section of the white community, that poses no problem.

But for the ANC which stands for a society which reflects the demography of SA that is a huge problem.

So we are not gong to "get race out of the economy" indeed we are very busy trying to do something about just that.

That is why we have BEE, preferential procurement and the rest.

50 years ago I was the National Secretary of the SA Congress of Democrats - a white organisation which was part of the congress alliance led by the ANC. Our rival was the liberal party.

  • We wanted votes for all and the freedom charter,
  • They wanted votes for the rich and educated elite.
  • We supported the liberation of all black people,
  • The liberals supported merit.

She repeated this on the SABC on Sunday night. She said, " get beyond skin colour".

So what has changed? The language of Zille is the language of the old liberal party. Merit, status quo at the top, privilege.

The truth is what you want is a phoney meritocracy based on past privilege.

Ziphathe kahle !! Thula

Contrast these views with the work of our deputy president. Which talks of "shared growth" or, "growth shared by all." Her economic programme is designed for that.

But the DA manifesto 2004 wants " accelerated privatisation" they will abolish capital gains tax, estate duties, secondary tax on companies" this will simply leave economic power where it has always been.

They say their focus in the economy is "on merit, not race". P 8

I have a constructive proposition on this point.

Mamela! Ndifuna ukubuza into

Let the DA first help us get all South Africans to an equal level in education and personal skills then we will abolish all discrimination based on race.

Will you agree to that proposition?

Let us turn to other aspects of policy.

In the state of the nation debate on 12 Feb 2002 the Hon Leon said , "let me straightaway give him (the president) credit for his government's achievements, notably the provision of water, electricity and housing to several million poor people. For the achievements the president has our support."

But 2 years later, in the 2004 manifesto, we find "in every key area, the ANC has failed to deliver on the promises made in its 1994 and 1999 election manifestos.And in the 2006 manifesto we find "nationally the ANC has failed to: Create jobs fight poverty and deliver houses"

And," the ANC favours only the few, at the expense of the many " p 6

Something is wrong there. It is the DA which favours meritocracy. And what does the DA predict for the future ?

The 2004 manifesto stated:

" if SA continues on its present track, our growth rate is unlikely to exceed 1.5 %. P 6. But we are now at 5 % ! And, "because government has failed to achieve meaningful GDP it has failed the people" p1 but our GDP is growing fast !

Well, the budget will reveal all.

It must be very alarming for the DA that the ANC government has been good for business and the professions. Look at the stock exchange and the housing boom.

Yet some of these beneficiaries may abstain or vote DA. Its because of wrong perceptions. Perceptions promoted by the DA and their sympathisers in the editorial posts in the press.

I take this opportunity to invite them to actually listen to what we are saying.

The president acknowledged some deficiencies in delivery. The transition has been much more difficult than we envisaged.

But our achievements since 1994 are very substantial. And they are the achievements of the whole country and all its peoples, and not just the ANC and its government. It is not too late for the DA to heed the call by president Mbeki, like his predecessor Nelson Mandela,

TO "SEIZE THE TIME TO DEFINE FOR OURSELVES WHAT WE WANT TO MAKE OF OUR SHARED DESTINY."

BUT THAT DESTINY CANNOT BE A " PHONEY MERITOCRACY BASED ON PAST PRIVILEGE."