DA in black and white: Mabine Seabe

2012-03-17 08:27

For the majority of black South Africans, voting for a political party other than the century-old ANC is difficult.
Yes, it allowed black people to be equal citizens in the land of their birth. In fact, for the majority, it is a case of “if the ANC doesn’t get my vote, no other party will”.

Despite this, a growing number of blacks realise that an ANC-led government is no longer sustainable and that it won’t hurt to put their “X” next to another party, namely the DA.

The latter has received plenty of criticism for preaching diversity yet having a predominantly white leadership.

There is truth to this, but when you look at the party’s grass-roots level, its claim of diversity is affirmed.

It would be fair to call the DA a white-led party, but you would be mistaken if you called it a white party.

I recently attended two events – the DA Young Professionals Forum in Rosebank, Johannesburg, and the DA Gauteng Provincial Congress in Tshwane.

At the professionals forum, though predominately white, there was a fair number of black people.

At the provincial congress – attended by nearly 1 000 delegates (60% of whom were black) – where new leadership was elected, the audience could be seen to be representative of the party’s membership in Gauteng and maybe the country.

The DA’s face is changing and when it goes to its national congress in November, the leadership will be more representative of South Africa’s demographics.

ANC voters are fast learning that their party is not all it’s made out to be. A few years ago, you would not have seen blacks proudly wearing blue DA T-shirts.

The stigma of being black and voting for and being a DA member is slowly disappearing.

At the provincial congress, I spoke to a young man from Soshanguve in Pretoria who’s been a DA member since 2010.

He told me he joined because the ANC wasn’t doing anything for his community.

He believes the DA can bring change. His story is not unique.

The DA is making inroads and I do not think the ANC is taking notice.

The pride and arrogance of the ANC are its own worst enemy.

Like Helen Zille once said: “(The ANC) is wounded, and its wounds are self-inflicted. If the DA wins Gauteng in 2014, it will not only be as a result of its campaigning, but also because of the lost faith that many black South Africans have in the ANC.”

The DA asserts it will take Gauteng in 2014. Given this confidence, if I was an ANC leader, I would be scared.

The numbers paint a picture of a considerably stronger DA and a weakening ANC.

Black South Africans are slowly beginning to identify with a party that is beginning to look like them as black leaders – Lindiwe Mazibuko (parliamentary leader), Mmusi Maimane (national spokesperson) and Makashule Gana (DA youth leader) – emerge from the party.

I and more than 1 million other voters were naive to vote for Cope. Our votes are up for grabs. I have not become a DA disciple, but my perception of the party has changed. The ANC also occupies a special place in my heart.

Come 2014, it will be difficult to choose between the “Blue House” and the “Revolutionary House”.

» Seabe is a student and director of Youth Lab 

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