Thoughts on the road: On progressives and diversity

Makashule Gana, the DA member of the provincial legislature, is determined for his party to snatch Gauteng from the ANC. Picture: Muntu Vilikazi
Makashule Gana, the DA member of the provincial legislature, is determined for his party to snatch Gauteng from the ANC. Picture: Muntu Vilikazi

This morning I went for my Saturday run.

Todays run was a little different to the many Saturday runs I have done on two fronts.

On one front it's the last Saturday run before the first of the Big races I will be running this year, the Two Oceans Marathon, my inaugural one.

On another front I had a lot on my mind following the email that was sent to Federal Congress delegates by my colleague and running mate Gavin Davis.

 The letter has subsequently been circulated on WhatsApp groups and journalists have the copy. It is safe to assume that it is a public document by now.

As I ran I reflected on two aspects covered by the letter, one is the use of the phrase 'Real Progressives' by the authors and what diversity means to me.

I must admit that the letter raises some very important issues that we as party members must reflect on if we are to build a DA that truly belongs to all and working towards making a visible differences to all South African people.

I thank both Gavin and Michael for bringing the debate to the fore. It's a welcome development. I don't have to agree with their take on matters to appreciate the work that went into drafting the letter and the points raised.

 As I reflected, I found the use of the phrase 'Real Progressives' exclusionary as it assumes that there are some in the DA who are not progressive enough, that there are varying degrees of DAness, that some are more DA than others.

To me joining and working for the DA to build a party that belongs to all South Africans is progressive enough.

I think if we enter a debate on who is more progressive than the other we will be on a road to nowhere.

To me we are all DA, and we are all working towards improving the lives of all South Africans.

There's only one degree to DAness and not varying degrees. We need to build this DA of ours to be one.

On Diversity, my thoughts are that given our history as a nation and as a party, one can't talk of diversity when it does not include race and gender.

Our definition of diversity will differ from the definition of say England, Russia or Nigeria, we don't have the same history thus the context differ.

It doesn't have to take a diversity tickbox sheet to see that when am with Khume Ramulifho Bongani Baloyi Kingsol Chabalala Lebo More representing the DA that there is no diversity, especially for us as the DA.

Thus over and above the other components of diversity, in my eyes if it does not include race and gender it is not diverse enough, our history and context demands as much.

Diversity is something that we have to actively work towards, it will not come to be naturally.

I accept that my version of diversity might not be shared by all, but it is a position.

The congress affords us an opportunity to come to a definition that we can agree to and support. I look forward to the discussion.

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