ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe addresses supporters at the launch of the party's manifesto in Orlando East, Soweto. He focused on violence, corruption and the economy in his speech. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - Imagine a country that is the envy of other nations because of its peaceful, sound and prosperous policies founded on morally upright but vibrant family structures serving as the building blocks of society.

This is the South Africa that the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) hopes to deliver to the citizens should it win sufficient votes to unseat, or at least curtail the ANC’s dominance after the May 7 elections. The plans are outlined in the party’s election manifesto, which was launched in Orlando West, Soweto, yesterday.

The manifesto, which is consistent in content and theme with those of the previous elections, is anchored around an appeal to Christian and traditional values – the very core values upon which the party was founded.

Like the ANC and the DA, the ACDP has targeted the quandaries of unemployment, poverty, inequality, violence and corruption plus “a sub-standard” education and health care as the cornerstone of its strategy to woo voters.

“Our policies aim to address these challenges, restore dignity and investor confidence, and protect and strengthen families. Without these values, we will not see the restoration of the moral compass of our nation,” said ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, addressing hundreds of the party’s supporters in Soweto.

To boost employment, the party has set an annual economic growth target of 7 percent. It hopes to achieve this by ensuring that the state provides an enabling environment for business to grow faster by raising global competitiveness and foreign earnings in sectors such as mining, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and tertiary education.

A professional public service and quality education and vocational training for sustained skills development are also at the heart of the ACDP’s manifesto.

Small and emerging entrepreneurs have not been left out, with the party planning to review the cumbersome regulatory environment and facilitate access to financial assistance and mentorship programmes.

The party plans to ensure that fiscal policy is sustainable by reviewing government expenses and “eliminating wasteful, irregular and corrupt expenditure”.

ACDP leaders also reckon they have a solution to Gauteng’s controversial e-tolls, with the party declaring that it would review the system and seek alternative funding models such as the fuel levy to finance road construction and maintenance.

Under an ACDP government, the crippling labour strikes in the mining sector could be minimised through the review of labour laws and collective bargaining “to remove obstructions to growth and address tense labour relations”.

And rather than the current “pervading culture of enrichment that mainly benefits a small group of politically connected persons”, the ACDP would ensure that economic empowerment improves the workers’ living conditions through benefits such as workers’ share schemes.

Other highlights of ACDP’s manifesto include:

* Address poverty and inequality by introducing social welfare wages, increasing the social welfare grants and vastly improve education and skills development programmes that lead to rising employment and higher earnings

* Introduce a zero-tolerance anti-crime strategy through improved police training and strengthening capacity in the investigative and prosecutorial units.

* Ensure that heavier sentences are imposed with minimum sentences and review the parole system and deny bail for certain categories of crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery and car hijacking.

* Ensure that the Protection of State Information Bill is not used to prevent journalists, citizens and whistle blowers from exposing corruption.

* Reintroduce and strengthen the Scorpions and strengthen the auditor-general, public protector, Special Investigating Unit, Asset Forfeiture Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.

* Review the school pass rate to address the disjuncture between the standard of matric and that required by tertiary institutions.

* Reopen and effectively equip training colleges and promote teaching as a profession and reintroduce school inspectors to monitor the standard of teaching.

* Limit the impact of trade unions on the teaching profession and appointment and promotion of principals.

* Ensure the provision of clean water and proper sanitation and that basic health and hygiene is taught from primary school up to the secondary education level.

* Improve public hospital services and ensure better equipped and properly remunerated medical staff.

* Amend laws and policies that undermine family values such as access to contraceptives and abortion by children without parental consent, inappropriate sex education in schools, attempts to ban moderate parental chastisement and legalise prostitution, and the legislation of pornography and abortion-on-demand.

Sunday Independent