The Steenhuisen/Zille team will, without doubt, emerge as winners at the end of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Federal Congress at end of this weekend. The DA will hold its much-anticipated congress this weekend to elect the new leaders to take the party to next year’s local government elections and the general elections in 2024.
With the backing of major provinces like the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng, John Steenhuisen will easily see off his contender Mbali Ntuli for the top position, with Helen Zille having her way passed Mike Moriarty for the influential position of Federal Chairperson.
This is the leadership that the DA will go with into the next elections looking to woo the voters to help it wrestle power from the ruling ANC in many metropolitan municipalities across the country. This is the same leadership that decided to adopt the colour-blind liberal policies going into this congress.
This is the same leadership that sided with the farmers in Senekal in its bid claw back support from the Afrikaner constituency it had lost in the previous elections.
Now, it must be noted that even if the Ntuli/Moriarity team can spring a surprise and emerge victorious (which is unlikely to happen), the DA’s outlook, due to its recently adopted economic redress policy, has changed how many South Africans, particularly Black and Coloured voters view the party.
The election of Zille will not provide the previous magic spark it had on these two groups.
Zille, who was at the front to support the Senekal farmers during their face-off with the Economic Freedom Fighters in the past weeks, is, without doubt, the reason why the DA will lose the majority of its Black and Coloured voters.
Her return to the party structures not only saw the exodus of Black and Coloured leaders leaving the party, but her controversial remarks on race and apartheid continue to project the DA as a party that is still failing to understand and accept the racial economic injustice suffered by the majority of the people in the country.
This does not help the party’s course coupled with the fact that there’s no one in the party, not even Steenhuisen, who has the steel nerves to stand up against Zille or rightly dismiss her unfortunate sentiments in the party.
The story of the DA under the leadership of Steenhuisen/Zille will be one of deliberate blindness to the reality of the lived experiences of the majority. Until the party acknowledges fully the racial economic injustice which mirrors the South African story and changes its liberal outlook, it will remain that suburban party that is aloof to the people it needs in order to remove the ANC from power.
The DA might retain power in the Western Cape next year, but the good strides it made in Gauteng’s metros in 2016 will, unfortunately, be impacted by this new leadership. The Black and Coloured votes the party received previously will be shared by the ANC, EFF and Herman Mashaba’s Action SA.
The Black, Indian and Coloured voters will blue-tick Steenhuisen/Zille’s colour-blind DA.