DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The DA will rent office space to small businesses in Gauteng for a R1 a year if it wins the province in this year's election, the party's Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.

“We can’t have small businesses struggling to pay rent,” he said.

“But at the same time there are so many government buildings in Gauteng that are vacant or under-used.”

Maimane said the African National Congress-led government owned 55 percent of the land in the province.

“For every person with a great business idea who just can't get ahead because times are hard, this is your fight too,” he said.

Maimane was addressing a packed indoor arena at Ellis Park in Johannesburg at the Democratic Alliance's provincial manifesto launch and job rally.

He said the manifesto was a pledge to the people of Gauteng and the foundation for the future.

The crowd, most of them dressed in DA attire, sang and cheered.

The stage was decorated in the party's traditional blue and white draping, signs and banners.

One sign read “believe in change,” while another banner read “Maimane for change”.

Blue confetti was dispersed into the air when DA leader Helen Zille, in a red dress, arrived at the rally to introduce Maimane.

“We have the right man to lead Gauteng,” she said referring to Maimane.

“He has integrity, intelligence and determination, he is a blue man.”

Maimane told the crowd change in the province was possible.

“Change has never been so possible... We are going to win and we are going to bring change.

“Change is coming to Gauteng and it is coming through the DA,” he said.

Maimane said the party would fight for quality housing and title deeds for the people in the province.

“In Gauteng today, after 20 years, almost 700,000 people sit waiting for their own house and title deed.”

Maimane also focused on job creation and urged party supporters to fight for policies that created jobs.

He said the ANC government, through e-tolls, was preventing job opportunities.

“Shoprite's e-toll bill is already R4-million. This will make food more expensive and all of us poorer.”

Maimane said the DA would also fight against crime and corruption.

“I believe that no citizen of Gauteng should live in fear of crime.”

He said druglords in communities such as Eldorado Park, were operating from government housing.

“I pledge that we will evict druglords from all public property, that is our promise.”

The DA would demand that three special police units Ä a drug squad, a gang unit and a domestic violence unit - be established in Gauteng, he said.

It would also pass the Community Safety Act in the province.

Maimane said the party would also fight against government corruption by introducing a new ministerial handbook that would cut luxuries for all government officials.

“No more R1.3-million cars, no more credit cards, no more R500 000 swimming pools.” - Sapa