Polokwane - The Democratic Alliance promises to address jobs, education, corruption and equal education, party leader Helen Zille said on Sunday.
“The manifesto we release today is a 'manifesto for jobs'... Job creation is only possible if we cut corruption,” Zille said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the DA's 2014 election manifesto in Polokwane, Limpopo.
“Jobs are possible. Six million real and permanent jobs are within our grasp if we seize the moment at this election... We will stop politicians and their families doing business with government.”
Zille said tender processes would be opened to public scrutiny because a clean government was essential to beat poverty. She said like corruption, crime was killing the economy and people did not feel safe. People increasingly felt they need to be protected from the police.
“The police brutality of the last five years reminds us of a darker time in our nation's history. Of course there are very many brave and hard-working policemen and women out there.
“And we will fight gangsterism and drugs by bringing back specialised police units and reinstating the narcotics bureau. Once a government has committed itself to cutting crime and corruption, it can get on with growing the economy and creating jobs.”
She said education was important in fighting crime and corruption and in securing six million jobs. A DA government would train at least 15,000 teachers each year and would ensure each pupil had textbooks.
The DA would focus attention and resources on schools in poor communities. She said since the party was elected to govern the Western Cape in 2009, the number of underperforming schools in poorer areas had fallen from 85 to 23 in 2013.
Lack of money should not stand in the way of those who wanted to study further, she said.
“The DA will work to increase the National Student Financial Aid Scheme budget to R16 billion so that no student is denied an education because they cannot afford it,” she said.
The DA wanted to create one million internships for young-job seekers who needed work experience.
“And everyone's chance of getting a proper job will improve as the DA's economic plan is rolled out. Job zones will offer flexibility around labour relations and tax incentives for job creation.”
The youth wage subsidy would benefit 423,000 young people in its first three years, she said.
The DA intended investing 10 percent of gross domestic product in roads, railways, ports, water and communications infrastructure, and fast, reliable internet.
Expanded public works programme jobs had an important role to play in poverty relief, but were not a substitute for a permanent employment.
“This is why we place such strong emphasis on job creation through entrepreneurship. We will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses and support them to succeed,” Zille said.
“We will turn South Africa into a nation of entrepreneurs by prioritising support and training for small businesses, and cutting the red tape that strangles innovation and job creation.”
On black economic empowerment, Zille said the DA supported broad-based BEE that created jobs and opportunities for everyone who had suffered from discrimination, not just for those with political connections.
“The future we are building is a place where talent, innovation and hard work are more important than political connections. A place where every individual has the power and the freedom to become the best they can be.”
Zille dedicated the first third of her speech to reminiscing about the struggle against apartheid and South Africa's first years of democracy.
“Under Presidents Mandela and Mbeki, South Africa made progress. They had a good story to tell,” she said.
The present-day African National Congress however was not the party of former president Nelson Mandela. Things changed after Jacob Zuma was elected party president at the ANC's elective conference in Polokwane in December 2007.
“That was the moment when a great political movement lost its sense of direction. It was hijacked by leaders who care more about themselves than the people they are meant to serve,” she said.
“The good story ended in 2007.”
She said since Zuma was elected unemployment had grown. The DA was ready to fight the elections on May 7, she said. - Sapa