The Democratic Alliance (DA) has adopted a proposal to introduce a clause on diversity in its constitution, but the adopted version is not what was originally suggested by party leader Mmusi Maimane.
Those who had opposed Maimane’s proposed wording of the amendment have defeated him by successfully having a differently-worded version adopted.
The wording of the clause had been a subject of heated debate with some members raising concerns that it was bordering on introducing quotas.
On the eve of the party’s federal congress being held in Tshwane, its federal council held a lengthy engagement where an agreement was made to alter Maimane’s version as suggested by members of Parliament (MP) Michael Cardo and Gavin Davis.
The original version proposed by Maimane read:
South Africa is a richly diverse society. Its people come from different origins, worship in different ways, have different cultures and customs
Diversity is one of South Africans richest assets. The Party celebrates diversity and strives to ensure that every group, every language, every religion and every traditional custom is respected and upheld
The Party solemnly subscribes to the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in diversity”
The Party will to the best of its ability attempt to replicate diversity in its own ranks.
Among the alterations proposed by Cardo and Davis was that the clause explicitly state the party will reject race-based quotas.
The new version adopted version, which included a vast majority of the changes Davis and Cardo proposed, now reads:
- South Africa is a richly diverse society. Though our people come from different origins, worship in different ways and have different cultures and customs, we are all unique individuals.
- Diversity is one of South Africa’s greatest assets. The Party celebrates diversity, and recognises the right of each individual to be who they want to be, from domination by others.
- The Party solemnly subscribes to the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa which recognises the injustices of the past, and affirms that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
- The Party will continue to take active steps to promote and advance diversity in its own ranks.
In addition to this, the sentence stating the DA’s outright rejection of quotas and rigid formulas had been added as a stand-alone section in a different part of the constitution.
Cardo told the Mail & Guardian he is pleased to have reached an amicable solution with party members.
“We’re happy. We’re happy that we reached an agreement. And we are happy that it [the rejection of quotas] was put in a section of the constitution and that it was unanimously endorsed by the congress,” Cardo said.