• Hlanganani Gumbi

Helen Zille, the DA and all the noise

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

If you’re a voter watching carefully from the side lines, a DA member or a concerned South African, you might find this period in our party particularly confusing.

First things first, the DA is undergoing a structured process with outside help which is tasked with looking at a whole range of reasons which led to our recent election performance and fragmentation. This process, is arguably the most important part of our own internal reflection and correction. It’s an admission by us, that we hold ourselves to a higher standard and that the South African public deserve better from us as a political party and a party of government.

At the same time as this review is going on, the chairperson of the federal council, James Selfe is stepping down from his position. This critical role is a senior political management officer who ensures that the organisation and its objectives are smoothly implemented across its structures and by our representatives in government. Let us be clear, this role is incredible important and comes with a significant degree of influence in the party. It is this role which Helen Zille, Athol Trollip, Thomas Walters and Mike Waters are standing for election, and which the Institute of Race Relations is aggressively, (with no DA mandate or voting rights), trying to influence together with the general direction of the DA. Whilst the federal council election is important and often grasps the publics and media’s attention, it is critically less important than the organisational review process.

The fact remains, the DA is a critical player in the realignment of South African politics. If the majority of South Africans want to enjoy their constitutional rights, including good quality healthcare, education and jobs so that they are able to move out of poverty. If they seek a better quality life for themselves and more importantly for their children in a country that is inclusive, then the DA is building a movement of South Africans which yearn for that society. If that fails, then we will be left with the rise of an authoritarian regime led by Julius Malema, Deputy President DD Mabuza and the hyena’s which only seek to milk the state to their benefit.

The organisational review seeks to address how we are building the kind of organisation which will listen, engage, attract and mobilise South Africans to this more positive vision. That kind of movement, is bigger than the chair of federal council, regardless of whomever occupies it. It is why I have taken the personal posture that says; if you are a DA delegate to federal council (as I am), engage me on how we impact the organisational review and not who must occupy which seat. The answer to that question, should dictate the chair of the federal council.

The DA of 2019 is immensely engrained in South African life. It is why, many South Africans care so much about our politics. I encourage those interested in building our vision to engage their branches, councillors, MPs and MPLs to ensure their voice is heard in this most important project.

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