Mbali Ntuli has vowed that if she wins the DA leadership contest, there will be zero tolerance for anyone who tries to derail her vision to mould the party into an organisation grounded on kindness, strength and fairness.
“As a leader I need to make it unequivocally clear that anybody who is going to detract me from the vision to grow the DA,” said Ntuli, who was the first leader of the DA Youth.
She was elected the leader of the DA Students Organisations in 2013.
But Ntuli said she would not dismiss members with opposing views.
“I am not going to be the type of leader or lead the party like in the past, where they have trampled on people with different opinions.”
The opposition party has been unravelling since last year when rumours of racial tensions made the headlines.
Two of its key black leaders, former leader Mmusi Maimane and ex-Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, resigned after former leader Helen Zille was elected as the interim federal council chairperson last year.
Both cited an ideological shift in the party, which they did not agree with, as their reasons for quitting.
Ntuli said she still believes the principle of inclusivity needs to be re-instilled in the DA.
“There are obviously going to be people that might not necessarily have voted for you and want to go with your vision. Part of that [vision] is going to be to make those people understand that the party is still an inclusive space and their voices will still be heard,” she said.
Ntuli believes she is capable of handling whatever hurdles come her way if she wins the leadership race.
“I am not scared. We are all very different people. I have been in the DA for longer than them [Maimane and Mashaba]. I have been in these trenches and I understand the DA better,” she said.
Her plan is to win over the voters the DA lost in last year’s general elections.
She also wants to attract those who have been hesitant to support the party. Ntuli said she would be able to achieve this only when she had saved the DA.
“I have to start by saving the DA, before I save South Africa. My first mission is to really make sure that the party goes to the policy conference in April and has outcomes that address issues of the past in a way that is fair and implementable, because you then use that as a basis to show South Africans, that I am a trying to take the party to be more inclusive and more honest.”
The DA will elect its new leaders in May and Ntuli is confident that she will be able to convince delegates that she is the right candidate for the job.
She said she had already received positive feedback since her letter to party members explaining her plans to run for the highly contested position.
The 31-year-old, who served in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and was the party’s campaign director in KwaZulu-Natal last year, believes her only competition for the top post is interim leader John Steenhuisen, despite possible challenges from John Moodey and Bonginkosi Madikezela.
Her next step will be to make contact with those who have expressed their confidence in her before the congress. Once she knows who the congress delegates are, she will be targeting them next.
At the launch of her campaign on Friday, the former DA Youth leader told the media that her campaign would focus on four pillars.
She wants to bring fairness back into the DA; clear up the confusion of what the DA stands for; restore confidence in the party; and bring back the focus for the party to realign politics in South Africa.
“Nobody knows where we stand and that is one of the things I would like to grapple with and change in the organisational culture.”
Steenhuisen will launch his leadership bid this week in Cape Town where he will set out his goals.
A DA public representative told City Press yesterday that Ntuli could win the leadership contest.
“Mbali has an added advantage because she represents inclusivity, which the party needs at the moment. I have personally worked with her in the past and she stands a chance [of winning] because she is well known in the party. She is a strong candidate. I know that she can give John [Steenhuisen] a run for his money.”
Political journalist | City Press
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