One can be forgiven for thinking that two contenders of the DA’s interim leadership position are representing different parties.
As John Steenhuisen will battle it out with Makashule Gana for the DA’s top job this weekend, both contenders continue to speak opposite each other on whether race is a proxy for disadvantage.
The DA’s position on race-based policies will take centre stage as the country’s official opposition elect a new interim leader.
The debate whether race is a proxy for disadvantage continues to be one that the DA hate to tackle, but one that forever keeps coming to the table in the party’s discussion.
Gana has already made clear that he is in support of race-based policies that seek to redress the economic injustices of the past.
This thus means that he wants race to be a dominant force of discussion in the party when addressing the economic policies of the party.
When the out-going Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba resigned from the party he, in no uncertain terms, made it clear that they are certain of people in the party who are refusing to acknowledge the historical injustice of the past.
Gana seems to be pushing against those who are refusing to acknowledge this.
Gana, a member of the Gauteng Legislature, is without a doubt going into this contest as an underdog, as the balance of forces seem to be going against those championing for a race-based policies approach.
Whether he wins or not has similar repercussions for the DA.
Should he emerge as Mmusi Maimane’s replacement this weekend, a huge focus will be on the senior leaders such as Steenhuisen, Mike Waters and the new Federal executive chairperson Helen Zille.
It will be noted whether they support him fully before the new permanent leader is elected next year.
Throughout his tenure as the first black leader of the party, Maimane was forever seen as the ‘rented black leader’ and Gana is definitely going to labelled as such throughout his interim leadership.
However, he can assert his authority from the onset by championing his course and doing better than Maimane by tackling the issue of white privilege.
The election of Steenhuisen will definitely stabilize the party internally but will send a clear message to the public about the party’s new character under another white leadership.