Elections turned into ‘litmus test of democracy’
Pictured: Michael Bagraim
“Going in to the municipal elections, the entire Democratic Alliance geared itself up to ensuring that its message of service delivery was taken out to the people,” said Bagraim. “The activists worked hard for over 18 months leading up to these elections. We were all aware these elections were the litmus test of democracy in South Africa today.”
Bagraim told SA Jewish Report that his party knew that if it did not produce results or show any change, the level of despondency within the business community would be incredibly destructive.
“The feedback that the party had received from its supporters and its activists is that if there was no change during these elections, it would spell bad news for the future of democracy and indeed the future of our country. During these last 18 months every single person within the Democratic Alliance wore out a lot of shoe leather.
“We started getting feedback that our message was being heard and that the service delivery in the Western Cape was an excellent launch pad by the municipalities and indeed all the metros.”
Personally, Bagraim spent days, weeks and months treading the streets especially in the Langa township in Cape Town. “For the first time I was able to be received without any animosity and posters remained on poles for weeks on end. In the past, I and others felt unsafe and even threatened when we entered the townships. I, for the first time, could proudly wear my blue T-shirt and cap.
“When we saw the mood in Port Elizabeth and we heard the results, we knew that this was a new South Africa and that democracy at last was taking its hold. Not in my wildest dreams did I believe we would take over the governance of both Johannesburg and Pretoria, let alone a governance of many Karoo towns and smaller municipalities. The mood is now joyous and euphoric.”
Bagraim stresses that the party fully understands it needs to deliver, a stance it maintained throughout its electioneering campaign. “Now we need to do just that,” he said.
Another Jewish member of Parliament for the DA, Darren Bergman, told Jewish Report: “The DA ran an election to bring about real change. We focused on freedom, fairness and opportunity, using ideals and a vision similar to that of the late icon Nelson Mandela.
“My initial projection of Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg fell short of some of our other important achievements in smaller municipalities. We have done the unthinkable by taking charge of four of the six metros and controlling other municipalities that we had no chance in five years ago.”
Bergman paid tribute to the voters, without whom he said, “this major feat could not have been achieved.
“We will do our best to make sure we make our voters proud. We already have a plan for the first 100 days and we have ensured we hit the ground running. We live in exciting times in South Africa and we are not just part of history but we are creating it day by day.
“The DA will serve all South-Africans humbly and productively,” he pledged.