DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has warned his party that the stronger it becomes, "the more our opponents will lie and deceive."

Maimane delivered the opening address on Saturday at the DA’s federal congress held in Tshwane this weekend. The congress is the biggest one the party has ever had, and will be attended by more than 2000 delegates.

Maimane, who was welcomed onto stage as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 national elections, stood unopposed for the position as leader of the party. He will therefore lead the party into the crucial elections in which wants to force the ANC below 50% of the national support.

"To all my fellow Democrats I warn you, the stronger we get, the more our opponents will lie and deceive. We will fight those lies with our values. And we will fight those lies with the proof that, where we govern, our policies work," Maimane said.

The DA has been accused of being a white party which was not representative enough. Maimane however made it clear that the party was a home for all South Africans, irrespective of race.

He said if every person who voted DA in 2016 gets just one other South African to vote DA, the DA would replace the ANC in the Union Buildings.

The party had received 22.23% of the national vote in 2014, while the ANC received 62.15%.

With former president Jacob Zuma’s resignation, the mood in the country was said to have shifted, in what now president Cyril Ramaphosa has described as the "new dawn".

Maimane has however slammed the concept, saying "we don’t need the empty promise of a new dawn. We need total change. We need to dismantle the corrupt system that continues to oppress poor people in this country."

"How can we speak of a new dawn when our cabinet is still crammed full of corrupt ministers, and when our Deputy President (David Mabuza) has a cloud of allegations hanging over his head?" Maimane asked.

He said it was the same government under whose watch the Marikana massacre and the Life Esidimeni tragedy happened. Police killed 34 mine workers at Marikana and the Life Esidemeni tragedy led to the death of 144 mental healthcare patients.

"We don’t need a new dawn. We need a plan to put millions of people in jobs. We need a plan to fight drug abuse and gangs in our towns and cities. We need a plan to shore up our borders and curb illegal immigration. We need a plan that gives people ownership of their land, and then protects the property rights of all South Africans. But most of all we need a plan to break down the walls that this government has erected between the insiders and the outsiders in our society," Maimane said.