JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
THE people who will be elected by Democratic Alliance (DA) members as new leaders of the party this weekend will face trials and tribulations in South Africa’s toxic political environment.
Key, and very important will be their commitment to party’s ideals – which – in my view – are better ideals than those of other two major political parties in South Africa, namely the African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
DA’s policies will continue to be debated and criticized in South Africa. And when that happens, the new leadership will have to stand firm in defense of the party’s principles and values.
Now let me be crystal clear: I’m not a DA supporter or loyalist. I have voted for both the ANC and DA before. My comments here will purely be based on objectivity – nothing more nothing less.
With all the wrong that’s going on in the country – from joblessness to fatherlessness to shocking crime to dire economy– I have advised people to vote the ANC out of power. Because it’s become clear that under the ANC, this country will not really be fixed.
But when I give people this advice, I’m asked what the alternative party is to the ANC.
My answer to that question has always been simple and straightforward: DA deserves an opportunity to govern the entire South Africa.
I struggle to understand why people think DA is racist, or that its policies are aimed at protecting white privilege. That’s the reaction I get when I recommend the DA to people.
Honestly speaking, racism is rifer in the ANC and EFF. And it’s blunt racism in those two parties – right in broad daylight.
It really is a shame that a party that governs relatively better and is less corrupt is being portrayed this way.
DA is also less hostile to business – and that’s very important to highlight in a country where business has to be the driver of economic growth.
On COVID19 pandemic this year, DA leaders have been speaking sense – and have challenged government’s ill-thought policy responses to the pandemic. The ANC and EFF have been total demagogues and clowns on COVID.
DA’s fight against government on COVID is itself a proof that the party cares about every South African – especially the poor who lost jobs and continue to lose jobs. 2.2 million people lost their jobs in the second quarter – and more must have lost jobs after the second quarter.
And then there’s party’s rejection of race-based policies a few months ago. I think that was bold and courageous. The courage must be commended.
Race-based policies do not help advance our society. They are divisive and tend to benefit the already well-off; not the poor as intended. Around 15% of South Africa’s black population benefits from Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) – and it’s largely the already well-off. That reason alone is evidence that we should reject such policies as a society.
Not only do race-based policies benefit the already well-off; they also undermine the achievement of black people. When black people succeed on their own, it’s assumed that it’s because of BEE. That is damaging to our country.
To brand DA as anti-black just because they have rejected race-based policies is ludicrous.
Instead of race, the color of the skin, the party will use socioeconomic ground as a determinant of whom may be assisted by government. Such approach is better and more effective – and it avoids assisting a child from Sandton suburbs just because he or she is black. A black child from a well-off family doesn’t need and shouldn’t get any special, preferential treatment from government.
The great challenge for DA will be in the communication of its vision for South Africa. Many citizens don’t understand the position the party has taken on race-based policies; partly because they are misled.
Under the new leadership, DA should stress why race-based policies harm the poor and preach the party’s alternative to improving peoples’ lives. That message must be repeated again and again. Because South Africans tend to want to hear how the poor will be better off.
In South Africa’s politics, racial inequality is widely spoken about. DA must not be afraid to express that they will use pro-market mechanisms to uplift black people. You don’t need race-based policies to develop black people’s lives in South Africa.
There is nothing wrong on talking about race from a free market perspective. Because it is markets that will move South Africa forward. It’s not government controls, increased government spending or increased taxes that will make us a prosperous society.
South Africans should give DA a chance – even more so after this rough year in the country. I just hope the elected leadership doesn’t disappoint in the upcoming years. PM
© PHUMLANI M. MAJOZI