- Individual freedom under the rule of law – an open society;
- Opportunity with responsibility – an opportunity society; and
- Full equality for all.
In doing so, it creates a fourth concept that underpins our vision of the proper relationship between individuals, the state and society in South Africa today.
Our vision is grounded in the idea that every human being has a right to dignity. Human dignity is the foundational concept that informs our values and vision.
The two key ideas that unite all the elements of an open society are the related ideas of individual freedom and the limitation of state power. They are related because an extension of state power necessitates a limitation of individual freedom and vice versa.
In protecting and promoting an open society in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance must identify and oppose attempts to limit the space for individual freedom and actively promote the extension of such space.
The final concept is the idea that South Africa is “for all”, or as Nelson Mandela famously said, “belongs to all who live in it, both black and white.”
There is a long history of racial and ethnic division in South Africa; of racist discrimination; of racial suspicion and competition.
In order to transcend this past, and usher in an era in which people are judged by their character, their effort and their contribution – and not by their race – we believe that attitude and policy should be based on the following:
- An absolute rejection of discrimination on grounds of race and other characteristics of birth.
- A clear acknowledgement that there is a long history of racial discrimination and oppression in South Africa, that it was wrong and that positive action is now required to make it right. That positive action must be targeted at individuals who still suffer the effects of discrimination, not at groups. It must provide opportunity to the disadvantaged without shutting off opportunity to the advantaged.
- A clear acknowledgement that all South Africans are legitimate and enjoy full moral equality – that is what it means to say South Africa “belongs” to all who live in it.
- The active protection and promotion of the language and culture of all South Africans.
In acting to extend opportunity to all, the state must ensure that it does not compromise the freedom of the individual. To do so would be to shut down the open society. On the other hand, to neglect those without the wherewithal to direct their own lives in the name of freedom is to shut down the opportunity society.
Therefore, in an opportunity society that also values individual freedom, the state’s role must be to facilitate, not direct the activity of citizens. If it provides services, it must seek to expand choice, not determine choices; it must not simply “deliver” to a passive citizenry, which takes what it is lucky enough to get, but must allow the citizenry to determine which opportunities it requires; it must encourage independence, not dependence.
In other words, the free, independent, active individual is at the heart of the opportunity society, both in determining the opportunities required and in taking advantage of them.
The DA’s vision for South Africa is achievable. Our cause is to promote it and, through winning support for it, to put it into action.
Where we govern, such as in the City of Cape Town and other municipalities throughout the country, we are already putting it into practice. We have created more economic opportunities, accelerated service delivery and cut crime. We are helping to improve people’s lives
We believe our vision is compelling, harnessing all that is best in human kind, grounded in a rightly optimistic view of our capacity to live well together, and to succeed as one nation, with one future.