The Democratic Alliance (DA) has dismissed claims that the party is predominantly a white organisation. Both candidates racing for the party’s federal leader’s position John Steenhuisen and Mbali Ntuli believe the party is a reflection of diversity.
Steenhuisen and Ntuli were speaking in Durban on the side-lines of the party’s virtual national congress. The party also attributes its decline in party votes last year to lack of direction and infighting among senior party leaders.
The momentum has been high in Durban where both candidates racing for the DA’s top position are attending the party’s national elective congress. A small group of their supporters were singing their hearts out wishing victory for their preferred candidates.
Speaking on the side-lines of the virtual congress, both Steenhuisen and Ntuli described the notion that the party is predominantly white as lies peddled by party opponents.
“But I think if you can look behind me today, look at the congress delegates you will see that this is a myth perpetrated by our opponents. More than 53% of people who vote DA are not white South Africans precisely because people realize that this is one party bringing South Africans from all back grounds together, regardless of their skin color, religion, age and geographic location. We focus on leading that change towards non-racialism in South Africa – accepting people not as representatives of the color of their skin, but as an individual who have something to offer South Africa.”
Ntuli says the party should go beyond being racially diverse but also be inclusive of all people across their living conditions.
“The DA is a very diverse party and I plan if I become leader, to make it even more diverse, not just racially. We need to be making space for people living with disabilities who are not seen in political spaces and people who are disadvantaged in many other ways and that’s why I’m doing because I want people to understand that the DA is the party that is inclusive of all South Africans.”
Steenhuisen also gave his diagnostic perspective of the party’s decline in party votes in last year’s general elections. Some analysts after the elections said the DA had lost some predominantly party votes to the Freedom Front Plus. According to Steenhuisen the party had lack of direction and focus at that time.
“I think I was policy uncertainty and the DA not standing up firmly about its values and principles, we became wishy-washy. People look at the DA and didn’t know what we stood for and what we were fighting for whether we were a party for them. I think that now we have a great policy offer, we can go out clearly and decisively and tell South Africans this is our vision for you. This is who we are and these are the things we are going to fight for. I think we have been too critical of the ANC, we have a job to hold the ANC accountable, but when you are going to criticize you must put on the table workable alternatives. I want us to be able to set forward that vision for South Africans, showing them clear alternatives.”