FRIDAY BRIEFING | Leadership battles: Will the DA survive?

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Friday Briefing

Electing new DA leaders: The battle is on

The DA heads into its leadership battle this weekend, a little worse for wear. 

Since shedding some electoral support and losing five seats in Parliament in 2019, it has also since seen the departure of some prominent figures, including former party leader Mmusi Maimane, popular Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and former Gauteng DA leader John Moodey. Incidentally, each took with them some constituency of support. Though, who knows if these will be lost to the DA as voters forever? Especially since at least two of these former leaders are in another political formation, Mashaba's ActionSA and Maimane's movement which could still turn into a party.

But all is not lost to the DA. It continues to govern the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape. Despite having now lost Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, in what appears to be a loss of the gains made in the 2016 local elections through various coalitions, its congress delegates this weekend can make a choice that will cement their immediate future trajectory. In making this choice, they decide on a path of further decline, or sure but steady growth.

Faced with internal factional battles, though nowhere near as bruising as that of the ANC, the DA will still be faced with the challenge of reconciling the contestants and their constituencies or continue harming itself. In addition, the new leader will need to be one who can claw back, even if marginally, lost DA support while simultaneously making it attractive to a broader set of new voters. The leader will also need to be taken seriously and given an ear in platforms such as Parliament and other policy making platforms.      

The newly elected leader's most immediate challenge will be fighting the next Local Government Elections from a stronger and more coherent policy position. 

With feisty former Youth Leader and KZN MPL Mbali Ntuli going up against interim leader John Steenhuisen for leader of the party; PFP/ DP and DA veteran, Mike Moriarty, squares up against Helen Zille for the position of chairperson of the Federal Council. Covid-19 delayed the DA's scheduled elective process, leading to a prolonged, and occasionally acrimonious campaign. This will require the DA to heal its potentially divisive rifts, if it is to emerge stronger.  

In this week's Friday Briefing, Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni tackles this issue and writes that the party is critical but stable following some recent policy decisions while Unisa professor Dirk Kotze argues that the party is not yet in decline but it will need to ensure it has strong leadership to prevent this. News24's political reporter Jan Gerber writes that whoever wins between Steenhuisen and Ntuli will have to ensure that the party's parliamentary caucus continues to fire on all cylinders if it is to regain lost ground and keep vigilant oversight over government. Finally, Phumlani M. Majozi  writes that whoever wins will have their work cut out for them as they contend with what he terms the country's political toxicity. 

Keep safe and have a good weekend. 

Vanessa Banton 

Opinions Editor


Somadoda Fikeni | Moving towards conservatism: The DA's date with destiny

The DA is in a critical but stable state and there will be some serious implications once its elective conference is concluded, argues Somadoda Fikeni

Dirk Kotzé | The DA is at a critical point and it needs astute leadership

If the DA is going to ensure it doesn't go into a state of decline, it is going to need strong leadership, writes Dirk Kotzé.

ANALYSIS | DA leadership battle: What a Steenhuisen or Ntuli win could mean for Parliament

Whether it's John Steenhuisen or Mbali Ntuli who is elected DA leader on Sunday, the party will have to ensure that the party's parliamentary caucus fires on all cylinders if it wants to regain lost ground. Parliamentary reporter Jan Gerber predicts what impact each candidate could have on Parliament.

Phumlani M. Majozi | The DA should be given an opportunity to govern South Africa

Phumlani M. Majozi writes that the DA has performed better than the ANC and the EFF when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic and should be given the opportunity to govern the country, to show what it is made of.

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