Faizel Patel – 02/11/2020
Associate Professor with the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy at Nelson Mandela University, Christi van der Westhuisen says the Democratic Alliance (DA) got cold feet and did not believe in their policy around electing vibrant, exciting black and black female leadership.
The DA is celebrating what they call a successful elective conference at the weekend, where John Steenhuisen was elected as the party’s leader and Helen Zille as Chairperson of the Federal Council.
Steenhuisen was up against former DA Youth leader Mbali Ntuli, who was also one of the first to congratulate the new leader.
Van der Westhuisen says the new leadership is the same composition as the party’s last elective congress sharing the sentiment of the headline on the front page of the Star newspaper, “It’s back to the future for the DA.”
“They couldn’t stick it out and in particularly this is in relation to last year’s election when the DA had a slightly smaller percentage return in votes and not significant I think, but basically losing voters to the Freedom Front Plus. You would’ve thought that would for than for the DA been a sign of rid of the white reactionaries and we can actually really move forward now and presenting ourselves as a party for all South Africans, but the DA doesn’t unfortunately doesn’t seem to have the stomach to do that.”
Van der Westhuisen says if the resolution for a deputy leader to be elected for the DA was accepted as called by Mbali Ntuli and not shutdown, it would only have come into effect at the party’s next congress.
“It would’ve been a way if they created this position to, one could say cultivate black leadership and black female leadership into the future and that was rejected by 60% of the delegates from Mbali.”
Van der Westhuisen says the election of Helen Zille as Federal Chair shows that she holds the real power in the party.
“If you look at that federal council chairpersonship that Helen Zille now go again, it basically has a very strong grip on the party. So one can argue it’s even more powerful actually than the position of the DA leader.
Van der Westhuisen says the shadow of the ANC was very “large” at the DA’s congress with a lot of the arguments by delegates being made in reference to the ruling party and its ideals and policies.
Listen to the interview with Christi van der Westhuisen