DA must grow its own heroes

2013-04-21 10:00

The next general election may only be next year, but you know we are in electioneering season when political parties start behaving like juveniles.

The DA has been first off the blocks with their ill-thought-out campaign of appropriating struggle icons and styling its earlier incarnations as a liberation movement.

To use Nelson Mandela in embrace with DA icon Helen Suzman is disingenuous, and displays a lack of faith in its own historical choices. Even worse, it smacks of desperation.

The DA and its forebears made political choices and must stick to them. They embraced liberalism as their political creed when it was unfashionable to do so.

They chose Parliament as the theatre of their political battles, even if this meant partaking in an institution designed to exclude the vast majority.

The DA’s participation in the tricameral system was no different to other groupings participating in various race-based pseudo-democratic dispensations such as Bantustans or the Urban Bantu Councils, “Useless Boys’ Clubs” as those who were meant to serve them called them.

They all attempted to give apartheid legitimacy and a pretence of democracy it did not deserve and were rightfully shunned by true democrats of all colours.

These included another icon of South African liberalism Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, who timeously appreciated the futility of fighting apartheid from within a parliament that excluded South Africans based on the colour of their skin.

By now, pulling a picture of Suzman or trying to project itself as a historical liberator, the DA sets on a dangerous path of seeking to rewrite history or insult collective memory.

Instead of going this route, the DA may be better placed to play a role of a party of the future.

It must grow its own timber fit for today’s purposes. Dwelling on half truths and yesterday’s politics can only hurt the party’s future prospects.

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