DA Leader Mmusi Maimane

Pretoria - The African National Congress under President Jacob Zuma does not want change because this means the ANC will have to give up corruption, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.

"Life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change," he told a public meeting in Atteridgeville in Pretoria to mark the start of the DA's #Change19 National Tour.

"If you are worried or angry about what you see around you, then you have to ask yourself: What have I done to change it? Today I want to invite you to join hands with those who feel the same as you so that we can do what needs to be done to get our country working again," he said.

Maimane said he was aware that South Africa's problems often seemed too big to overcome.

Rampant unemployment had shattered the dreams of millions and left entire communities struggling to get by from day to day. More than half the people lived below the poverty line - 27 million people had to survive on less than R780 a month. Eleven million of them lived below what was called the food poverty line. This meant they could not even afford the minimum daily nutrition.

"These are numbers that we should never ever have to accept as good enough. But this ANC government wants you to think they’re doing the best anyone can do – that this is, for now, as good as it will get. They want you to accept that our economy can’t grow at even half a percent a year, that we have the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and that more than a third of our people cannot find work. "According to the ANC they have done all they can do and we must just tough it out until things get better. Well let me tell you I refuse to accept any of this. I know we can tackle and beat poverty by creating opportunities for people to become truly financially independent. I know we can change. But I also know we are going to have to do so without this ANC government.

"The truth is, this ANC under Jacob Zuma doesn’t want change. Because change means giving up what you have in order to gain something else. And this ANC has worked too hard to set up a network of corruption where everyone benefits. Where tenders go to friends, where cronies become billionaires, and where the kickbacks flow like water. They’re not going to give any of this up," Maimane said.

"The good news... is that there are enough of us to change this country without the ANC. We are everywhere, we just need to find each other. We already took the first steps in last year’s municipal elections. Opposition parties in three metros found enough common ground to be able to say to the ANC: you are no longer needed here, we can do it without you. And it’s not only political parties. NGOs are finding allies in business, churches are standing together with civil society.

"Our country has transcended politics before to fight an unjust government. Today we are once again seeing such a realignment – a coalition of South Africans who have nothing in common other than a hunger to build a country that works for all its people. South Africans who are not bound by race, by language, by religion or any other superficial 'identity' that some like to label us with.

"South Africans who share a common vision for our country, and who despise the selfish people with their wicked plans who stand in the way of our vision. We just need to find each other to see how great our numbers really are. And when we go to the polls in 2019 to elect national and provincial governments you will see that our movement – our coalition of South Africa – will be unstoppable," Maimane said.