Opinionista Azania Matiwane 19 January 2018

The DA: An alliance of promise or pro-misery and fear?

The DA has ventured into an illegal terrain in removing powers of the Executive Mayor Patricia de lille. The powers of the mayor are granted by statutes, which the DA suggests be delegated to “their own” selected from the executive council. This action has highlighted that the organisation of promise is no more, while an organisation pro fear and misery remains.

The DA was formed out of an electoral decline of the Democratic Party (DP), a party of liberals, and the National Party (NP), a party of conservatives both sharing one common epitaph – that of being former exclusive clubs of whites. Thus, with the advent of the democratic dispensation, the DP and the NP faced extensive electoral decline as clubs of exclusiveness became outdated and obsolete.

This resulted in a marriage of convenience and survival as both organisations faced two choices, that of evolution or extinction. As it were, they chose to evolve, thus embarking on a survival alliance and thereby forming what would be called the Democratic Alliance (DA). It became also increasingly clear that the exclusiveness of the new club to only white people, both liberal and conservative, would not be a choice as the legal framework militated against such practices; also, if the new alliance had any ambitions of continued survival and thus challenging the gigantic revolutionary movements like the ANC, PAC and Azapo, it had to broaden its membership access to the black community as well.

Above all, in order to stand a chance against the revolutionary alliance as led by the ANC, the DA had no choice but to employ strategies that would emulate and attract the similar type of leaders and members capable of understanding the necessity of delivery of the promise of a better life for all as espoused by the revolutionary alliance and expressed through the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter being the single historic document of promise for a better life for all.

The DA never truly understood nor embraced the expectation and demands of black people (Africans, coloureds and Indians) for a better life for all, and the promise brought by the democratic dispensation to usher such hope eluded it. It continued on its predecessor organisations’ central principles, fear of black governance, fear of black empowerment, fear of dispossession of that which was stolen from its rightful owners (land and wealth) through years of colonialism and oppression, and all these being the central thesis of the continued oppression of black people (Swartgevaar).

To this date, the DA continues being inspired by this fear, hence in post-democratic South Africa its campaigns have largely been inspired by this fear, its themes; first it was “Keep ANC out” (Hou ANC uit) – this supposedly being the call for citizens to prevent the “communist” ANC from taking power. The ANC prevailed. Frustrated by the people’s love for the ANC, the DA continued with its fears, and the theme of the following campaign was launched, “Fight back”, this presumably suggesting the “communist” ANC is fighting against the people who love it.

The next electoral theme of the DA was not to be outdone by the previous fear-centred theme as if with every election the reality of extinction was becoming ever so real. It launched “Stop Zuma”, this suggesting that President Zuma as the then leader of the ANC was on a quest to attack them. These synopses capture the collective psyche of the DA epitaph as that which is centred on fear that never left its members since the days of apartheid which found expression through its predecessor organisations.

More recently, the DA fear has been showing itself in various forms, in the Western Cape and in Cape Town, where the DA has been in charge for over 10 years and has offered exposition of the extent of this fear. In the Western Cape, the DA had propped up leaders of colour like Gerald Morkel (a black man, coloured) who was a mayor of City of Cape Town until such time as he outlived his usefulness and, when he was starting to be a powerful leader, the DA clipped his wings and sent him to political oblivion. Peter Marais was to be the very first mayor of colour (a black man, coloured), having served as the mayor of uni-city under the DA administration. He became overzealous and outspoken on matters involving the poor living conditions of black people in the Western Cape, particularly coloured people in Cape Town; the DA kicked him so hard, like a stray dog, to the annals of political dustbins, paving a way for another rented black, Gerald Morkel.

The treatment of Gerald Morkel by the DA exposed the “one black at a time” strategy of the DA. Thus the Cape Town electorate, the majority of whom are black (coloureds, Africans with a small Indian community), put their trust in the ANC, with Nomaindia Mfeketo being the mayor of City of Cape Town. The ANC, ripe from political externalism in the administration of the City of Cape Town, committed massive mistakes, thereby losing favour with the electorate in its maiden term, who then returned the DA administration.

The DA entrusted “their own” (white liberal) Helen Zille to take up leadership, this indicative of its loss of trust in leadership by people of colour and the belief that restoration of the electorate’s trust can only be achieved through one of “their own”. Needless to say, Zille paved the way once again for another opportunity for the DA to rent another black, Patricia de lille (black, coloured female).

This time the intention was to restore the eroded trust, hope and promise to the DA which was beginning to show since the administration of the city was taken over by “another white person” in the eyes of the bewildered black majority electorate (coloured, Africans and Indians). As the English idiom goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; the DA was not to be outdone, as pro fear sentiment continued to haunt its promise of a transformed organisation. More recently, the DA reverts to its miserable tactics, “one black at a time”, “one black out, one black in”. It has effectively reversed its previously found fortitude to entrust blacks with their own destiny and that of “their own”.

In a quest to create an opportunity for another black, the DA has ventured into illegal terrain, removing powers of the Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille. Powers of the mayor are granted by statutes, which the DA suggests be delegated to “their own” selected from the executive council. This action has highlighted one thing about the DA – the organisation of promise is no more; an organisation pro fear and misery remains, while struggling to manage diversity within its own ranks.

This can be traced to the organisational epitaph of the DA which is not based in non-racialism like that of the ANC, for instance, which fundamentally acknowledges equality and the right to self -determination as a precondition for the pursuit of a better life for all. DM

Azania Matiwane is a Deputy Chairperson of the Black Wealth Foundation (BWF), an entrepreneur, activist and a philanthropist.

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