DA promises to turn South Africa blue

Day one of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) congress began on Saturday morning at the Tshwane Events Centre with over 2 000 delegates arriving from across the country. 

The DA is the largest opposition party in South Africa, boasting huge growth in recent years. The party however, faces significant challenges that will determine how well its message of being a home for all South Africans is received ahead of next year’s general election.

Among the issues up for debate are the diversity clause, state-owned enterprises and the ownership of land. The election and announcements of officials is expected on Sunday.

The debate over diversity stems from the proposed constitutional amendment to include a clear clause on diversity as one of the DA’s key values. The proposed clause, which is supported by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, states that the DA must, to the best of its ability, reflect the diversity of South Africa’s demographic landscape.

But there is resistance against the proposal from some in the party, including MPs Gavin Davis and Michael Cardo, who believe the phrasing of the amendment borders on an attempt to introduce race-based quotas.

READ MORE: DA quibbles over diversity wording

Other issues that will be voted at the congress will be the increase in social grants and the removal of vat-added tax (VAT) on sanitary pads, resolutions the DA say indicate what they will do should they be elected into national government.

But it is the DA’s ability to elect a leadership demographically representative of South Africa that will be very closely watched.

The other Federal Chairperson

The current  mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga and incumbent Athol Trollip are going head to head for the position of DA federal chair, but there is a third horse in the race.

Trollip is a DA veteran and was elected as the federal chair in 2015. He also currently serves as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. Msimanga joined the party 12 years ago working in administration and communication. Both have been vocal about the diversity clause, but only Msimanga supports it. 

The incumbent federal chair told News24 that he embraced contestation as it is the “essence of democracy”.

Annelie Lotriet is the third candidate for federal chair and is campaigning for credible, competent and effective leadership. Lotriet is the provincial chairperson of the DA in the Free State and the shadow minister of science and technology. Her husband, Pieter Lotriet says that she is the perfect candidate with her project management skills and love for the DA and its values.

“I like Mike”

Blue tables, banners, stickers, fliers – the DA campaigns old school. There are several candidates running for the position of deputy federal chair: Nkele Molapo and Mike Waters.

Their supporters have been handing out fliers since early Saturday morning, both inside and outside of the venue. Both candidates promise to support the party’s values. Molapo promises to grow the party and advocate support for the provinces.

Hein, a Mike Waters supporters, says he supports him because of he stands for “true values and principles”.

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