Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DA sees the light...
This day has been a long long time coming and I can honestly say that I am really interested in this step that the DA has taken to open up the party. I have long bemoaned both the fact that the DA has remained a "white privilege" party and the lost chances that availed themselves after Tony Leon's departure. The DA though, seemingly only at the threat of losing their official opposition status to the COP, have finally decided to undertake some introspection and to review the position and future of the party with relation to the electorate that it targets.

The DA has failed in the past decade to be a true opposition, merely falling into the all-to-easily dismissible trap of biting at the ANC's heels and reacting to ANC decisions rather than setting a true alternative for policy development. The ANC has communicated policy so poorly to the South African electorate, but the DA chose not to take advantage of this, rather diving into petty squabbles and rhetorical debates at any opportunity.

This weekend, according to Helen Zille, the party will 'relaunch' itself, after "an internal process of self-examination... an assessment of how the DA presented itself and how it was perceived by voters, given the effects of a divided past":
The DA had long been aware that wooing black voters was the only way to increase its share of the vote, but had struggled to get its message heard.

"The DA has significant potential among voters who share our values but who have not historically supported us," Zille said.

New research commissioned by the party showed voters of all races were looking for a political re-alignment, where parties and people sharing the same values came together to forge an open society with equal opportunities, "as opposed to a closed, patronage-driven society under the ANC".

"We are determined to do whatever possible to overcome these barriers, transcend race and enable all South Africans who share our values to give us their support," Zille said.

The party will fight elections next year with an important trump card: its track record in governing Cape Town since the 2006 local government elections saw the ANC forced to make way for a DA-led multi-party coalition.

The DA aims to rule the country by 2014, which may be a decade or two too soon for the electorate, but I applaud their review nonetheless. Not to see what this re-imagined DA looks like...