Is the DA ready for a black, female leader?

Former DA member of the provincial legislature Mbali Ntuli. Picture: City Press
Former DA member of the provincial legislature Mbali Ntuli. Picture: City Press

Former DA member of the provincial legislature Mbali Ntuli hopes to bring fairness to a party that has not only seen a decline in voter confidence in the 2019 elections, but has also witnessed fractions within its leadership since then.

Ntuli was addressing the media on Friday on her candidacy for DA leader in the party’s policy conference scheduled to take place in May.

“I believe if we can lead and take decisions, as a party, from a place of empathy and kindness, then we can show South Africans that the DA stands firmly against tyranny, and is a champion for everyone, no matter who you are,” she said.

Ntuli, who holds a 12-year membership within the party, said there is a need for a leader who voters can relate.

Ntuli not only represents inclusivity as a young female, but she also seems to have a better understanding of what the party should stand for
Political analyst Levy Ndou

“Many families, like mine, continue to rely on the support of their more privileged and employed relatives. It is the South African reality. I may not have lived during apartheid but I, like many others in my generation, see and feel its effects in every part of our lived experience,” she said.

“On the other hand”, Ntuli added, “I’ve been lucky. I was born to industrious parents, and in a time that allowed it. I was fortunate enough to have opportunities to go to good schools.”

“This duality of worlds, the ability to seamlessly fit into two South Africas, is not unique to me. This complexity is also what makes me uniquely able to lead a DA that wants to talk honestly and with compassion to all South Africans, but especially to the people who exist in these two worlds,” she said.

Read: Three prominent DA leaders ready to challenge Steenhuisen for top job

But is the DA ready for a young, black, female leader?

Political analyst Levy Ndou said that Ntuli may be the right person for the job.

“More young people are getting involved in politics in the current landscape. Ntuli not only represents inclusivity as a young female, but she also seems to have a better understanding of what the party should stand for,” he said.

The DA saw a 1.46% decline in votes in 2019, from the 22.23% obtained in 2014.

Despite this decline, Ntuli cites one of her successes as ensuring an increase in supporters in KwaZulu-Natal as the party’s provincial campaign director.

“Whilst the DA did not perform as well in the other eight provinces, the party grew its support from 12.76% to 13.9% in KZN during my tenure, and subsequently, increased the number of seats held by the DA in the KZN Legislature from 10 to 11. It was the only province in which the party grew its support,” she said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Ndou said that it’s not only about bringing up the numbers.

“In DA, you don’t need to attract voters. You need to articulate the policy position of the party.

“Her chances will depend on what the DA decides. The return of Helen Zille had a lot of negative implications. Those who see the party as inclusive will want her to lead. But there may be those who say that they tried it with [former leader] Mmusi Maimane and the numbers went down instead of up,” he said.

Ntuli is contesting the position with interim leader John Steenhuisen, Gauteng leader John Moodey and Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.

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