Editorial: DA at a critical juncture

This week, the Democratic Alliance inaugurated its headquarters in Johannesburg, a building so new the scent of paint still hangs in the air. It is, however,a sideshow to the DA’s ambitions. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has spoken proudly of the huge strides the party has made since the days of Tony Leon and Helen Zille. It is under his leadership that the party now controls four metros. The party has certainly grown but it also has to confront the challenges that come with counting many more among your numbers.

It’s quite a remarkable time for the DA.

The party has not found itself at such a critical juncture in its evolution since its formative years, when the Democratic Party mopped up what remained of the National Party (technically the New National Party) to create the DA. Such was the backstabbing that followed in the early 2000s that gangsters on the Cape Flats may have felt their livelihoods were under threat.

Since then the blue brigade have proven their ability to govern, at least on paper, though large numbers of the working class in the Western Cape remain unconvinced. Still, in that province, they stood unmatched.

Then came the fight with Patricia de Lille. Then the water crisis. Then the demise of Jacob Zuma. Then the Economic Freedom Fighters gunning for Athol Trollip. Suddenly the knives were out again and the cracks laid bare.

When the DA meets this weekend the policy debates will largely be informed by these crises that are eroding their hard-earned electoral gains.

The DA, you see, has the added challenge of not only believing its own spin but also somehow appearing to be living it.

Frustratingly for many in the party, it is the question of race that will permeate much of the conversation. Hamstrung by a still largely white leadership, Maimane’s call for a more deliberate constitutional move towards diversity faces an uphill battle. The DA has evolved, embracing the idea of black economic empowerment and slowly moving a few black leaders into highly visible positions. The congress this weekend will test whether the conservatives, who play to the minority core of the DA’s supporters, or the progressives, who are attracting younger and black voters, hold sway.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


‘Tenderpreneurs’ block the delivery of protective equipment to schools

Protests by local suppliers have delayed PPE delivery, which according to the DBE, is one of the reasons the reopening of schools has been pushed back until June 8

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday