Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

DA policy conference to signal which way party is headed

Democratic Alliance members take to their computers, phones and tablets in a virtual, national policy conference this weekend that could determine the future of the party. 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought on the socially distant intervention, but some delegates tell the Mail & Guardian the process is “confusing”. Some said that the conference would merely be a “rubber stamp” for predetermined policy proposals.

In February, the DA opened up its policy input for public comment. The party’s policy vision is based on a set of documents titled, “Values and Principles”, “Economic Justice”,  “Vision for Local Government” and “Policy Priority Areas”.

The initial date for the conference was supposed to be April, but it was postponed when the country went into lockdown.  

Since then, the party has been holding online policy workshops to determine its direction. This has also given the camps within the party space and time to strategise on amendments to policy proposals and canvass voting delegates.

But one DA delegate who will participate said there was still uncertainty as to how the process will run. “It feels like we’re just going to rubber-stamp something that was decided on somewhere else,” said the party member. 

“This conference is really only going to be where people talk about the policy that has already been imposed.”

During the conference, the party will lay out its stance on issues concerning race and transformation. In its draft documents, the DA opposes race and gender quotas. 

“When embraced, diversity acts as a potential bulwark against the uniformity of thought and closed thinking. The DA will strive to maximise the potential value of diversity,” the party’s policy document reads.

The conference will also be a litmus test for contenders in the DA’s leadership race.

Interim leader John Steenhuisen is being challenged by Kwazulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli to lead the party. This week, a third contender, Gauteng party leader John Moodey, not only left the race, but also resigned as a party member.

“It will be interesting to see which path the DA takes: whether we choose the path of growth and including every person, or … become a niche in the way we go about things, particularly when it comes to the economy,” Ntuli said.

The KwaZulu-Natal politician said the socially distanced programme would make it difficult to connect with potential voting delegates, but that her campaign will continue. 

“As a leadership candidate, I can obviously not make policy. But I’ll still be making my offer until we get to federal congress on how I believe we should be speaking to the party when it comes to policy matters,” she said. 

Steenhuisen did not respond to the M&G’s calls and messages, but a DA MP close to him said he’d be going to the policy conference to “solidify his lead in the race”.

Party spokesperson Solly Malatsi denied claims that the policy conference will be a rubber stamp. “There’s been consultations in the lead-up to this conference. The policy unit has gone to different provinces to meet with local structures on the draft. We also had a portal where people could view the draft policies and make inputs and propose amendments,” he said. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Bloated Sassa to make staff cuts

The social security agency has ‘lost’ R2-billion on unnecessary salaries and through wasteful expenditure

SANDF’s ‘dignity’ comes with a R200mn price tag

Find out about the SANDF’s new uniform, which is costing taxpayers close to R200-million, while mission-critical equipment is not maintained

More top stories

Phiyega bid to sidestep Marikana massacre dismissed

Ex-police commissioner Riah Phiyega hoped to quash findings including colluding in a cover-up and misleading the public about what happened at the platinum mine in 2012.

Warring ANC factions united in questioning SAA deal

Four unhappy high-ranking party members say the SAA sale was never discussed at the NEC

Ice skating champion shows off the Cape Flats talent at...

A young ice-skating champion has beaten the odds and brought home a national gold medal

Study finds too much salt can damage immune cell function

The study investigated how sodium intake affects human cells by giving participants 6g of salt in tablet form each day for 14 days, while they continued with their normal diets.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×