Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, September 02, 2005

The DA at Crossroads
Whilst rumours of the DA's demise may be grossly exaggerated, the party does face a crossroads. Having pinned great hopes of a net gain in the floor crossing farce, they now have a situation where four NNP members of parliament crossed to the ANC, thus shattering the DA's hopes of a majority in their traditional stronghold, the Western Cape legislature.

Much has been said of Tony Leon's style of politics, which simply does not suit the South African political climate. His verbosity on attack and sniping comments against the presidency and the ANC are only construed by the masses to be tinged with racism, and to them it is patent that he is always trying to be the champion of the previously advantaged. Leon's leadership offers little to the Black majority and offers little as an alternative in government to the ANC. He has become something of a lost cause, one which those within the DA seem to tolerate because the party has largely become so markedly ingrained with the Tony Leon personality and one which the rest of the population ignores as his oft overboard criticism and opportunistic style alienates the party's view from mainstream appeal.

It is time, and has been for two years, for new DA leadership. A Black leader with vision and transparency who will present alternative offerings to the ANC beginning at a regional level, and move to challenge at national level. The question naturally remains whether Leon has squeezed the lifeblood out of the DA as a brand and whether their is any party presence that a new leader could save. I think that the DA should be bigger than Tony Leon, although it may take some time. New leadership can build on its largely White platform and slowly begin to aggregate Black votes through supportive and inclusive rhetoric, presenting real solutions and alternatives, as opposed to abject criticism of every government move. It may take some time to repair the damage, but the time for change is now.