4 November 2021
Chairperson of the IEC, Commissioner Glen Mashinini,
Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sy Mamabolo,
Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,
Deputy Speaker, Mr Lechesa Tsenoli,
Leaders of Chapter 9 institutions,
Leaders of political parties,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Fellow South Africans,
In a month’s time we will mark 25 years since the signing into law of our democratic Constitution.
Its founding values – of democracy, human dignity, the advancement of human rights and the achievement of equality – have been our guide for a quarter of a century.
Tonight we mark another milestone in the advance of our democracy.
This local government election was contested by a record 325 political parties and nearly 95,000 candidates, of whom over 1,500 were independent candidates.
In the run-up to election day we have seen images of parties and candidates everywhere, on billboards, on street posters and on social media, all making a case for why they should get our vote.
This is a sign that multiparty politics is flourishing in South Africa, and that everyone has an equal chance and opportunity to run for public office.
This enriches us in many ways.
It advances openness and transparency.
It affirms that we are a diverse and tolerant society.
It affirms the principle that leaders must be chosen by the people and be accountable to the people.
I want to thank the 12 million South Africans who cast their ballots in this election.
By performing this important civic duty you have contributed to strengthening and consolidating democracy.
I want to congratulate all South Africans for holding an election that was peaceful, free and fair.
The people have spoken.
Those in whom they have placed their trust – the elected councillors – now need to get down to work.
Over the past few weeks we have all spent time with South Africans from all walks of life, meeting them in the streets and being invited into their homes.
They told us about leaking houses, of frustration at electricity cuts, of feeling unsafe because of crime, and of being despondent after years of not working.
At the same time many have told us about the good work that municipalities – supported by dedicated councillors – are doing in their communities.
They have told us of infrastructure that has been built in the poorest areas and of essential services that are being delivered.
They also gave us advice on how we can do things better.
Listening to them I was reminded how important it is that those in positions of responsibility enjoy the confidence of the South African people.
They want their lives improved.
They want better services.
They want their representatives to be responsive and accountable.
They want to live in a better South Africa with equal opportunity, where their rights are realised, and where they are treated with dignity and respect.
Local government must be a force for good, for development and for progress.
If we are to make this a new and better era, we, as leaders, must put aside our differences and work together in a spirit of partnership and common purpose.
At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to better the lives of the South African people.
We need to strengthen the trust between citizens and elected representatives through competence, integrity, performance and delivery.
Public representatives need to be more visible and active in our communities.
They need to focus on implementation and make the people partners in development.
Above all, they need to listen to the communities they serve.
I want to thank all those people who have contributed to the success of the 2021 local government election.
I want to thank the commissioners, leadership and staff of the Independent Electoral Commission, who have once again conducted themselves with professionalism and impartiality.
I want to thank the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force for ensuring the safety of voters and the integrity of the election process.
I want to thank the staff of the Department of Home Affairs for processing voters and enabling them to have the correct documentation on voting day.
I want to thank all the political parties and candidates who stood in this election for their conduct, their discipline and their commitment to the people.
Through their efforts, they have proven that our democracy is enduring and strong.
Last week in Cape Town I received a letter from a young women called Rubi.
“I have faith in the leaders of South Africa,” she wrote to me.
“I believe that South Africa can take her rightful place in the world, and that the dreams of our great leaders can be realised.”
In these difficult times, these words from a young South African encouraged me.
They should encourage us all.
We owe it to Rubi and to the millions of young South Africans who dream of a better South Africa, to do no less than our very best.
We owe it to the millions of South Africans who voted in this election to bring about the change they are asking for.
Let us turn the promises that we made on the campaign trail into reality.
Let us unite for the common purpose of recovery and rebuilding.
Let us work as one for a South Africa of equality, freedom and shared prosperity.
Let us keep moving forward.
I thank you.