The issue of race within the Democratic Alliance (DA) continues to be a centre of debate. This as the party in two weeks will be electing a new leadership with John Steenhuisen and Mbali Ntuli been the main contenders for the party’ top position.
Political analysts say the DA will still have work on its real challenge which is identity, especially after losing popular Black leaders in recent times.
The Democratic Alliance has been one of the biggest political parties post-apartheid South Africa. Since the new dispensation, it is the only political party that is in charge of the Western Cape province while the ANC leads in eight of the nine provinces in South Africa.
In 1994, the DA managed to gain seven seats in the new democratic Parliament. In an effort to strengthen its political presence to a more robust and effective opposition, the party joined forces with the New National Party (NNP) and the Federal Alliance in 2000 and formed the Democratic Alliance.
In 2016, it cemented its place in politics and managed to dethrone the oldest liberation movement in Africa “ANC” and took charge of some metro municipalities. Amongst its highlights was the election of Mmusi Maimane as the party’ first Black leader.
This saw the DA performing well in the 2016 election. Political Analyst Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana says credit must be given to Maimane for the inroads the DA has made.
“Mmusi managed to grow the party quite impressively, winning all sorts of metros in the 2016 especially, of course they didn’t do well in 2019.”
But the DA’s new path was short lived when Mmusi Maimane threw his reigns as party leader and resigned about a year ago. And the resignation of former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba dealt a huge blow for the DA. That was followed by the election of former Western Cape premier Helen Zille as the DA’s federal council chair, which Mashaba pointed to as the reason behind his decision to step down.
This led to some of the Black leaders later leaving the party fuelling to all speculation that the party struggled in dealing race issues and Political Analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana says this is going to continue to be the challenge for the DA.
“The stupid thing they did was to blame Maimane’ leadership instead of taking a stand on issues of racial redress, their denial, it’s a consecutive party in a denialised mode, they don’t think race matters .”
The DA will hold its elective congress this month end. It remains to be seen whether Mbali Ntuli or John Steenhuisen will take the regins and be the leader of the DA. But Political Analyst Steven Friedman says it’s almost guaranteed that Steenhuisen will be the leader of the DA.
With local government election fast approaching in 2021, this elective conference is seen as a determining factor for the DA’s performance in those polls.