DA's race policy scares other parties - Maimane

2018-04-07 13:45
DA leader Mmusi Maimane at the official opening of the party's new campaign headquarters in Bruma, Johannesburg. (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane at the official opening of the party's new campaign headquarters in Bruma, Johannesburg. (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

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Democratic Alliance federal leader Mmusi Maimane says the DA's policy on racial unity is the "clear blue water" that separates it from other political parties in South Africa.

Maimane delivered his opening address at the DA's federal congress in Tshwane on Saturday morning.

More than 2 000 party delegates clad in the party's blue and white filed into the Tshwane Events Centre, to hear Maimane warn against delegates falling into the trap of race baiting. 

"I am a proud black South African. I am a proud Sowetan. I am a devout Christian. And I am the proud son of Xhosa and Tswana parents.

"All of these things helped shape who I am today. But, in the end, I still have a choice to be who I am."

Maimane referenced his first speech as DA leader, where he spoke about being moulded by his experiences as a black man.

"I said if you don't see that I'm black, then you don't see me.

"But the flipside of this is also true. If all you see is that I am black, then you equally don't see me."

His blackness did not add to or subtract from his humanity, and did not define everything about him, because he was "secure enough in my blackness to think for myself".

"At the end of my life I will be judged on whether I was a good husband, a loving father, a loyal son, a patriotic South African, someone who contributed to society.

"None of those questions will be defined by my race."

'Threat to divide and rule politics'

For others, like the ruling ANC and the EFF, that was a scary thought, because it was "a threat to racial solidarity and groupthink".

"It is a threat to the politics of divide and rule. It is a threat to the old order of things.

"They want black people to remain trapped in the politics of race because this is what keeps the ANC in power. That is the truth, Democrats.

"They are afraid of us. They are afraid of a new generation of black South Africans who think differently to them and want to choose their own futures."

He didn't join politics to improve the government of the day, but to remove the government of the day, he said to applause from the crowd.

The only way to do that, was to stay true to their values on race, where all South Africans from all race groups help one another.

Party to debate 'heated' amendments

The DA Congress in Tshwane will later on Saturday debate adding the term "diversity" to its Constitution as a party pillar, with a heated debate expected to take place on whether that entails racial diversity or diversity of thought.

The day started off around 09:00 with delegates filing into the venue in song, showing their support for their preferred candidates for leadership positions.

Other speakers during the opening session included all DA mayors around the country, with the exception of embattled Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip all gave an update on their plans for their respective cities.

Maimane's wife Natalie also described Mmusi's qualities as a husband and father, while former DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme also spoke.

The Congress is due to start debating its various resolutions after lunch from 13:45, starting with the party's policies on the economy on jobs.

Other hot topics later on Saturday will include the policy on land reform at 15:15, and amendments to the DA Constitution at 17:15.

Voting and election of the new federal leadership will take place on Sunday.

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Read more on:    mmusi maimane  |  tshwane  |  da federal congress

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