Selfe: Black people chose to elect white people at DA congress

“Diversity is the output not the input. You can’t manipulate democratic outcomes. It is a democratic outcome that delivered us this.” (David Harrison, M&G)

“Diversity is the output not the input. You can’t manipulate democratic outcomes. It is a democratic outcome that delivered us this.” (David Harrison, M&G)

Democratic Alliance (DA) federal executive chairperson James Selfe has said that it was a majority black delegation at the party’s Federal Congress that elected the party’s leadership because it is a capable one.

In an interview on Monday morning following the DA’s elective congress at the weekend, Selfe responded to critics who said that the party’s leadership is not diverse.

The party’s newly elected leadership, which saw Athol Trollip defeat Solly Msimanga to retain his position as Federal chairperson, was criticised after only one woman was elected into the DA’s top eight and white people in the party were elected into key positions or retained the same spots.

Selfe, who stood uncontested as federal executive chairperson, said that the election did show diversity within the party, however.

“The overwhelming majority of delegates at the Pretoria conference were in fact black,” he told Radio 702.

“Black people in the DA don’t necessarily vote for black people and the whole point we’re making is you don’t need to be black people to represent black interests or white people to represent white interests. You need to be a human being of capability that is trusted by the delegates to represent their points of view and that’s exactly what happened at the congress,” he said.

“Diversity is the output not the input. You can’t manipulate democratic outcomes.
It is a democratic outcome that delivered us this.”

Selfe also maintained that the DA is the most racially diverse party in the country, saying other parties were prone to “racial nationalism”.

“There are very few diverse parties. Indeed, I believe we are the only diverse party in South Africa that welcomes all sectors of the South African society into our ranks, united around common value,” he said.

“Just about every other political organisation in South Africa mobilises around racial nationalism.”

The party, he said, did not go research what people’s motives are for voting the way they vote in the election, but he maintained that the DA is a “diverse party that is seeking to become more diverse”.

Both Selfe and DA leader Mmusi Maimane have rejected the idea of using race quotas in the leadership selection process, instead opting to adopt a “diversity clause” at the congress. Maimane suggested that diversity become the party’s fourth pillar, but said that quotas would be a “manipulation” of the party’s democratic election process.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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