On Saturday 25th February, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape Provincial Congress was held in Graaff-Reinet. DA EC Provincial Leader, Andrew Whitfield, MP, delivered an impassioned speech where it was clear that the goal to lift South Africans out of poverty and into prosperity is at the forefront of his mission.

With unemployment in the Eastern Cape at almost 80%, he states that the DA is determined to “change the mindsets of the people of the Eastern Cape through their hearts, by showing them that we are a party that cares.”

He stated that they are going to go to from valleys to villages, to cities and towns, and to informal settlements, townships and suburbs, in order to connect with voters “in ways that we never dreamed were possible, because the mission ahead of us is so much more important than it has ever been.”

A soundbite from Mr Andrew Whitfield, MP, can be found here.

Below is an extract of the Speech delivered by DA EC Provincial Leader, Andrew WhitfieldMP

Colleagues, we have a very difficult road ahead of us.

The Eastern Cape is the poorest province with the highest unemployment rate but is also the province where the ANC still enjoys its enormous two thirds majority. This is simply unacceptable.

It proves to us that we have more work to do than ever before. But we can also take confidence from the green shoots of growth in places like ward 11 in Umzimvubu, where we grew by 500% in five years, and in ward 32 in Enoch Mgijima, where we grew by 500% in just one year.

The tide is turning in the Eastern Cape. The wind is at our backs, but the wind will only stay at our backs if we are pointed in the right direction, and we make sure that we wake up every single day to work hard and deliver results. All of you will be measured on that basis alone, whether you can deliver results.

You are in a powerful position of change in an organisation which enjoys two governments in this province, which has representatives in every council, and in the Provincial Legislature and the National Assembly.  We are a party that gets things done whether we are in government or whether we are in opposition.

As your leader I will not accept any excuses that something can’t be done. Unless you have exhausted every explanation in the book and provide me with evidence of why it cannot be done.

If we are going to build a party that gets into government, we must build a party of merit along the way. Changing the lives of South Africans for the better is our most important mission.  Not talking about caring, but really caring.

I come from a small town called Stutterheim in the Amahlathi Municipality. And somebody from the Amahlathi Municipality this week sent me a heart-breaking WhatsApp to say that unemployment in that municipality is at almost 80%. Behind that statistic are thousands and thousands of people in broken homes that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. People who deserve hope of a better future and more than the promise of help, but real tangible solutions to their problems.

That is where our opportunity lies, not just to win votes, but to fundamentally change the lives of some of the poorest people in this province, by lifting them out of poverty, into opportunity and into a future where their hopes and dreams can be realised. That is called the opportunity ladder.

The DA builds our opportunity ladder out of poverty and into opportunity because every rung of that ladder is built on ideas, policy, and innovation. And that is how we want the people of the Eastern Cape to rise out of the poverty of patronage and into a future of opportunity and prosperity. That is our mission.

We are going to be a party in the Eastern Cape that works hard for every single South African, regardless of which political party they vote for. Because if we can do that and show every South African that we truly care by getting things done and delivering results, the votes will come.

We will change the mindsets of the people of the Eastern Cape through their hearts, by showing them that we are a party that cares.

We are going to march to the Union Buildings, but we are going to go on a detour.

We are going to walk from valley to valley, village to village, town to town, and city to city. We are going to walk to informal settlements, townships, and suburbs.

We are going to connect with voters across this province in ways that we never dreamed were possible, because the mission ahead of us is so much more important than it has ever been.

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