The DA could have marched to the Union Buildings if it was concerned about jobs. Instead it chose to endanger its members, writes Khaya Dlanga.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has the right to march just like any other political organisation as protected by the Constitution and should not be intimidated when it does.
Our Bill of Rights states the following:
"Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition
Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions;
Freedom of association
Everyone has the right to freedom of association."
There were several things that were wrong with the DA's march. There was nothing genuine about the march for jobs and played out as nothing more than a political stunt. But even if it was a stunt, it is still protected in the Constitution and the police must guard the protesters and public property if either is in danger. Whether we agree or not, our laws apply to everyone – most of the time.
The DA was disingenuous when it said the march was for jobs. It wasn't. It was meant to garner media attention for the party and it was irresponsible and unwise. There is a big difference between doing what is constitutionally permissible and what is wise in the interests of one's members and society. The DA deliberately created tension during an already strained period. Parties are in electioneering mode and the political discourse is volatile. A wise leader would know not to put its members in potential danger all for a stunt.
On the other hand, the ANC was probably not going to be able to control some unruly elements in the crowd when it called on members to counter the DA and "protect" Luthuli House. That too was an unwise move on the part of the ANC. Police should have been called to protect the building, if they were concerned about possible damage. We all remember what happened the last time there was a DA march, directed toward Cosatu and its headquarters. What the DA did was irresponsibility of the highest order.
The DA wanted to march to Luthuli House. Seriously. They must think that we are dumb to think it was for jobs. It was a provocation. Nothing more. I got the feeling that not many people knew the DA's reason for the march. All they knew was that a group of DA supporters were planning a march to the ANC's headquarters and there was no way the party would take it lying down.
We know the ANC tends to react to petty and minor provocations. The DA has now managed to garner a lot of media attention because the ANC decided to give the march unnecessary attention.
The DA's march to Beyers Naude Square, named after a great struggle stalwart Beyers Naude, is rather ironic as he was a white Afrikaans man who had been a member of the Broederbond, a secret male Afrikaner organisation that sought the advancement of Afrikaner interests. It was the most powerful organisation in the country. It selected presidents and set up businesses to advance the interest of one group. Naude left it to fight against Afrikaner interests and fight against apartheid.
When he was a member of the Broederbond, his job was to give a Biblical justification for apartheid. When he resigned from the Broederbond, his last sermon to his congregation at the Dutch Reformed Church was: "We must show greater loyalty to God than to man."
So it is ironic that the DA, which some view as a party only looking out for white interests, was confined to Beyers Naude Square, a place named after a man who gave up all the trappings of power, influence and success that his white privilege gave him – to fight with those he was tasked to oppress. What he did was not a stunt, it was a genuine move against injustice.
The DA could have just marched to the Union Buildings, where the president sits if there was genuine concern about jobs. This march was nothing more than the DA wanting to dominate the news for the week.