Our announcement today of the DA’s candidate for Premier of the Northern Cape in the 2019 election marks the start of a campaign that will usher in a new era of accountability and commitment to the people of this province.
If you look at the voting trends in the Northern Cape, you will know that the political sands here are fast shifting. Over the past decade there has been a big swing away from the ANC, and a big swing towards the DA, in both national and provincial, as well as the local government elections. This trend has been echoed in recent by-election results across the province.
The Northern Cape is very much “in play” for 2019, and the DA is making all the necessary preparations to lead a government here after the election, as we are also doing in Gauteng under the guidance of Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, who has accompanied me here today.
We fully intend to become the biggest party in the Northern Cape next year, and we plan to hit the ground running in government so that we can help unlock the potential of this largely forgotten province. To do so, we will apply the same principles as we did in the Western Cape, which saw that province become the biggest provider of new jobs in the country in recent years. Last year, three quarters of all new jobs were added in the Western Cape. This was only possible thanks to the DA’s obsessive focus on enabling growth and enterprise in the private sector, rather than making job creation a function of the state.
We need to do the same here in the Northern Cape. We need to create a corruption-free, hassle-free environment in which businesses can flourish, and we need to identify and enhance the industries that are key to development and growth here. One such an industry is energy, and particularly renewable energy. Through smart infrastructure investment and good clean governance, we can make the Northern Cape an energy hub and create thousands of new jobs here. The DA will put the Northern Cape back on the map when it comes to development, growth and jobs.
And so I am pleased to announce that our capable DA Northern Cape team will do so under the proven leadership of our Premier candidate, Andrew Louw. Andrew has served as DA Provincial Leader here since 2010, during which time the party has gone from strength to strength, both in terms of electoral results and in its fight for better services, better living conditions and accountable governance for the people of the Northern Cape.
Andrew was born in Kimberley in 1969. He grew up right here in Galeshewe, in Boikanyo Street, and attended Venus Primary School and Homevale Secondary School. His childhood was marked by poverty, but thanks to the sacrifices of his parents and a close-knit community, his poor childhood served as a motivation to one day be of service, rather than to define his path in life.
He would go on to obtain various qualifications from a host of tertiary institutions such as the then Rand Afrikaans University, Pretoria University, Wits University and UNISA. These qualifications include diplomas in marketing management, operations management, diversity management, business management and labour relations. He is currently enrolled in a Masters programme at Wits in the field of governance and leadership, which he has temporarily put on hold until after the 2019 elections.
Growing up in Galeshewe, Andrew knew very well the damaging effects of an uncaring government. All around him he saw people whose futures had become severely limited by the circumstances of their birth and their surroundings. This moved him to want to make a difference in these communities, and to become a voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.
He joined the DA 12 years ago, first as an activist and later as candidate for ward councillor here in Ward 14 – an election battle he lost by a mere 23 votes. Undeterred by this narrow setback, he went on to serve as a PR Councillor for the DA until he became a Member of Parliament in 2009, serving as the Shadow Minister for Labour. Since becoming Provincial Leader in 2010 he has defended his position at two congresses, both with landslide victories. This is testament to the trust his colleagues and the party have in Andrew’s abilities to lead the party in this province.
During this time, Andrew guided the DA to increased electoral returns in every national, provincial and local election, as well as a host of by-elections. In the 2014 elections, he helped grow DA support from 15% (2009) to 23,5%, and from 2009 to 2016 the number of DA councillors in the province grew from 69 to 107.
The DA’s momentum in the Northern Cape is undeniable, and much of this success is down to the hands-on work of Andrew Louw. He personifies the “get your hands dirty” type of leader, and will make for an excellent Premier of our country’s largest province.
He will have to blaze his own trail as Premier though, because the ANC Premiers who have preceded him here will have left him with very uninspiring shoes to fill. In fact, the ANC leadership in this province, collectively, has a lot to answer for. When the Premier is best known for her taxpayer-funded fast-food excesses, and when the ruling party’s former Provincial Chair is the convicted criminal, John Block, then you know that good governance is very low down on the priority list.
The good news is that the people of the Northern Cape have had enough of this corruption and neglect. Particularly here in Kimberley and Galeshewe, the people have indicated that the ANC’s time in power is over. The fact that the DA lost the court bid to have the compromised Sol Plaatje Mayor, Mangaliso Matika, removed due to a legal technicality does not change the mood and the will of the people.
The people of the Northern Cape know that only one party has been fighting in their corner, and that party is the DA. Only the DA has sought justice against the corrupt John Block. Only the DA fought to have Mayor Matika removed. Only the DA, through its vital court action, brought an end to the violent protests and looting in Kimberley. The people will have noticed this, and it will reflect in next year’s election.
But then the real work will begin. Because this is a province that has truly been forgotten and left behind by this ANC government. The issues affecting communities throughout the Northern Cape do not belong in a modern democracy.
Here you will find some of the most crippling poverty in our whole country. Here you will find, at 42.4%, one of the highest expanded unemployment rates in the country. Here you will find collapsed municipal service with crumbling roads and sewerage spills in many towns. Here you will find one of the highest incidences of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in the whole world. And here you will find the highest school drop-out rate in the country – almost 55% of learners in this province drop out between enrolling for grade 10 and writing their matric exams.
This is unacceptable. The conditions that many people in this province face every day should offend all South Africans. It most certainly offends Andrew Louw, which is why he is so committed to bringing real change to the Northern Cape. I have full confidence in his ability to do so, and I wholeheartedly endorse him as the DA’s candidate for Premier of the Northern Cape.