South Africa


Steenhuisen declares Julius Malema and the EFF ‘political enemy number one’ after being re-elected

Steenhuisen declares Julius Malema and the EFF ‘political enemy number one’ after being re-elected
DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Kabelo Mokoena)

Not many changes in the DA’s leadership as John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille remain at the helm.

About 2,000 DA delegates voted for new leadership during the party’s national congress on Sunday morning using the OpaVote system.  

John Steenhuisen garnered 83% of the votes, to beat his opponent, former Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalatse who only obtained 17%.  

It was smooth sailing for Helen Zille who was uncontested for the position of federal council chair. This means that Zille will yet again be “entrusted with and responsible for the organisation and administration of the party, and for developing and maintaining a high degree of efficiency in the party”. 

Ivan Meyer was re-elected as the party’s federal chairperson. Zille’s deputies are Ashor Sarupen, Thomas Walters and Annelie Lotriet. The party’s three deputy federal chairpersons are Solly Malatsi, JP Smith and Anton Bredell. 

Following his election, Steenhuisen made an acceptance speech in which he took a clear stance on how the DA will be handling coalitions in the future.  

He maintained that the DA would not be working with the EFF under any circumstances, adding that the Red Berets are the enemy. 

“Today, I publicly declare Julius Malema’s EFF to be political enemy number one of the Democratic Alliance. I commit the DA to fight back against the EFF at every turn, with the ultimate aim of defeating the doomsday coalition that could seal South Africa’s fate next year.

“This is no longer about politics. It is about the survival of democracy, and the survival of South Africa,” Steenhuisen said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: In her final leadership push, Phalatse takes a swipe at Steenhuisen, invoking comparisons with Zuma

Steenhuisen believes it is a realistic prospect that the ANC will drop below 50% in next year’s national election, which allows the DA to play a part in ensuring that they do not govern.  

He spoke strongly against the possibility of an ANC-EFF marriage, which he emphasised would only be to the detriment of the country.   

“Given the fact that the ANC now officially co-governs with the EFF in parts of Gauteng, we need to start taking the threat of these parties ganging up to destroy our country in 2024 very, very seriously. 

“That is why, during the remaining months before next year’s election, the DA will make it our number one priority — and do absolutely everything in our power — to prevent an ANC-EFF doomsday coalition from taking power,” said Steenhuisen.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: DA again votes against having a deputy leader (again) 

This comes as internal party polling has indicated that the party has gained stability since cutting ties with the EFF. The party’s relationship with the Red Berets collapsed after Herman Mashaba’s departure from the DA in 2019.  

The breakdown in the parties’ relationship ended the DA’s rule in Johannesburg, a big blow for the official opposition. After that, the DA vowed never to work with the EFF again. 

Despite the relationship between the parties ending on a sour note, the EFF continued trying to keep the ANC out of power and voted with the DA in most municipalities in 2021.

However, the latest coalition talks between the EFF and the governing party have facilitated a change — an agreement that could dethrone the DA in the councils where it, together with other smaller parties, has been able to have the majority of seats. 

This move has given the EFF the opportunity to have its members be mayoral committee members and speakers — and it has left the ANC at the mercy of the Red Berets. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Why pick EFF as public enemy number one instead of the ANC????????

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      The article explains the thinking fairly clearly?

      • Johan Buys says:

        Ricky, I imagine that the DA’s target voters are ones deciding between ANC and DA, not between EFF and DA. The DA can preach all night long, they’re not going to sway EFF voters to jump all the way over the ANC to the DA.

        The ANC is public enemy number one, the opposition parties can so easily coalesce with that as their shared value rather than the fragmenting about the relatively petty things they do now.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          The thinking may be that it is easier to galvanize both DA members borderlining on ANC and the more sensible segment of the ANC who might be swayed to DA against the overtly stupid and dangerous EFF rather than the ANC itself – which is committing suicide in any event.

    • Mark K says:

      I agree, Johan Buys. The Mini Mussolini Party is not the primary threat to South Africa by a long shot. This whole thing is very disappointing, riding, as it does, the coattails of fear. We South Africans are beyond fear. We are angry.

      Very, very angry.

      At the African National Congress.

      This is strategic stupidity and I cannot endorse it. The DA no longer has my vote.

      • Sam van Coller says:

        You are missing the point. It is the EFF that will firstly enable the ANC to stay in power and secondly twist the ANC’s arm as kingmaker to adopt certain EFF policies. The DA does not expect to woo voters from the EFF. ANC voters are its obvious target

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        John Steenhuisen and the DA are not stupid that I can promise you – there are very likely things you have no insight into driving the strategy.

        And leaving the DA? I would say the same of your strategy.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    The potential support for the ANC must decrease every day that passes as they demonstrate their never ending corruption allied with an inability to succeed in any meaningful way in governing the country.
    The only way that the ANC can cling to power is by allying with another unprincipled party a.k.a. the EFF. The DA targeting the potential crutch to keep the ANC in power seems to me to be a shrewd political decision. I don’t see how withdrawing one’s support from the DA helps to remove the ANC from power?

  • Tony B says:

    There is a false sense of achievement when you “preach to the converted” at your own party’s congresses and rallies.
    Nods of approval from the audience, loud cheering following a speaker’s comment and other acknowledgements of approval are great to boost one’s ego. One leaves such as gathering puffed up with a sense of achievement but, nothing was accomplished! Nothing changed!

    What is the point of trying to persuade people to believe things that they already believe?

    The individuals who vote for the ANC and EFF do not attend DA congresses and rallies (except maybe for a few “spies”), do not watch TV broadcasts of DA events and do not read on-line articles such as this one.

    When the DA can obtain the same cheers and nods of approval from current ANC and EFF voters [many scared that if they vote DA they will lose their social grants], then you [DA] would have achieved something!

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Have you engaged with the DA to offer your insights as to how to achieve what you are recommending without their being forced to tolerate corruption? If not, I have no doubt they would be valued!

  • virginia crawford says:

    The EFF, 12% of the vote is the number one enemy? Huh, and here’s me thinking it’s the looting, corrupt Stalinist ANC that ‘s been in power for 29 years. The DA is really good at getting things totally wrong which is why they can’t increase their share of the vote- and godZille is as permanent a fixture as the rest of the class of 94. Go away please. Retire get a life.

  • Suntosh Pillay says:

    It is clear that the DA has accepted its role as a permanent opposition party, with no intention, ambition, or hope of being a party in majority government. In a context of unbridled corruption and incompetence from the ANC, it is shocking that the DA would declare a minority party with 10% electorate share it’s ‘public enemy no. 1’.

    John, stop smoking the green stuff.

  • Paul Caiger says:

    It’s hard to disagree with the sentiments expressed in the previous comments. The complete failure of the EFFs recent attempt to cause a nation wide boycott shows how pathetic and dysfunctional they are. The best strategy for the DA is to denounce them as any kind of threat , proclaim that they are a radical disorganized opportunists who have no ability to get a rise out of anyone anymore and see them for what they are i.e. a bad Joke. Then go after the real enemy – the ANC. By targeting the EFF, the DA is giving them recognition , publicity and credibility as a “relevant” opposition , which they will lap up. Ignore them , treat them as scum and get on with being a proud , defiant and ruthless organisation in your attacks on the ANC and state run organisations. Get the other “honest” reliable parties on board and launch your campaign. Jeepers man – say “fu#5” to these guys. Get angry and show it.

    • William Stucke says:

      I think that most of the commentators on this article miss the point. The ANC is the governing party and is therefore who the DA will target as they attempt to supplant them and cease to be the opposition. For the sake of this country, let us hope that they succeed in 2024.

      The significance of the statement about the EFF being “public enemy number one” is that it makes it very clear that the DA will not enter into any more coalition agreements with the EFF. They have been burned far too often by those gutless opportunists.

      Those suggesting “withdrawing their support” for the DA are playing into the ANC’s hands.

      • Sam van Coller says:

        Agreed. Difficult to comprehend how readers can miss the point.

        • Sam van Coller says:

          The DA has also expressed its commitment to establishing a coalition of like-minded opposition parties and civil society organizations as equals now to fight the 2024 elections. What more can you ask them to do? It is an exciting intention

          • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

            I’m with you Sam. People love to expect the impossible. The DA is trying its best.

            A huge percentage of this country are uneducated and depend on government patronage via grants and social handouts for their very existence, so they are highly unlikely not to vote for the ANC. The average person in this country does not have the luxury of making choices from the perspective of a comfortable home and a good education. They literally have no options and the fact that this scenario has been actively exacerbated by the ANC is entirely lost on them.

            Be realistic people and stop beating up the DA stupidly. Sowing negative sentiment because your expectations are unrealistic makes you part of the problem.

  • William Stucke says:

    @Ricky Rocker 4 April 2023 at 21:13
    I totally fail to understand the objective of DM’s journalists by their insistence on beating up the DA, when their commentary could be a great deal more positive for the outcome of the country as a whole.

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