DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille has said, following their policy conference, that the party has decided that race should not be used as the measure of economic exclusion.
The policy rejects using race as a proxy to inequality.
Speaking on Monday on the outcomes of the policy conference, Zille said the ANC policy on broad-based black economic empowerment had failed dismally over the past 20 years.
She added that the time for change was now.
The party said its newly adopted economic policy rejected economic inclusion based on race, but it did, however, recognise apartheid legacies.
The DA said it envisioned a society where opportunity was broadly available to all.
The DA’s head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, said the party’s policy stance was aimed at creating an empowerment policy for the country that was both informed by non-racialism and the need to address the challenge of economic exclusion.
Ngwenya insisted that race did not have value in providing targeted assistance to those who needed socio-economic help, as disadvantage would be used as the objective means test for eligibility of support.
However, the DA has been losing key black leaders who accused the party of being opposed to meaningful redress for the black majority.
Since last year, top leaders, including former party leader Mmusi Maimane, former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, and Gauteng leader John Moodey, have dumped the DA as they accused it of representing white interests and not having a vision for a shared South Africa.
At the heart of their departure was the return of Zille as the party’s chairperson of the federal council.
Zille is viewed as the driving force behind what has been dubbed the “capture” of the DA by conservatives who have sought to refocus it on its white traditional support after an electoral setback in last year’s general election.
Many of the black members in the DA have expressed their discontent about the lack of redress in the party which has seen many of them leave.
Several members have publicly expressed that the virtual conference in October would be a rubber stamp for interim leader John Steenhuisen to win against KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli.
On Monday, Zille defended the DA from claims that the conference was a rubber-stamping exercise with a predetermined policy being imposed on delegates.
“That document was circulated to all delegates. Furthermore, every single delegate could make a proposed amendment to any of the policies. We advertised the deadline for amendments as the 16th of August and we reopened the window for amendments just this past week when some people said they missed the deadline and said they wanted to propose amendments,” Zille said.
When Moodey left the party last week, he alleged that six out of nine provincial leaders were being investigated and were facing disciplinary charges.
Most of them have said that they were not aware of what their charges were or why they were being investigated.
Zille said she did not know where the myth about the charges arose.
“That is not true, one provincial leader is facing charges and that one person happens to be the one provincial leader who isn’t black. That is apart from John Moodey who was facing charges, some of the most serious charges that have ever come before the legal federal commission. He decided to leave and turn it into a race issue,” she said.
Addressing the disciplinary charges against certain leaders in the party, Zille questioned why there were no issues when white members were facing charges.
Zille said everybody was treated equally by the processes of the DA.
“When a white person is charged in the DA, we don’t talk about the purge, an exodus or anything. We have fair and due process and that applies to everybody. We don’t have political purges in the DA,” she said.
Zille claimed that the federal executive, as well as herself, had asked Maimane not to resign, but he did anyway.
“I can’t take decisions for people. John Moodey knew he was facing very serious charges which there was strong evidence; he chose to resign, he wasn’t purged. The entire FedEx asked Mmusi Maimane to stay but he chose to resign, he wasn’t purged; ditto Herman Mashaba,” she said.
“Never had there been such an inclusive process in the DA, and never before had people had such an enormous opportunity to participate on crucial issues. Race has been used by the ANC as a license to loot,” she added.