- Mbali Ntuli says, under her leadership, the DA won't be "a minority party forever".
- She said South Africans are desperate for the DA to be a party for all South Africans.
- The federal congress starts on Saturday - and the new leader will be announced on Sunday.
DA leadership candidate Mbali Ntuli wants delegates to have the "courage to stand up and show South Africans" that the party is serious about becoming the next government.
She says the DA doesn't have to be "a minority party forever".
Party members should do this by electing her as leader, she wrote in a letter to delegates on Friday, on the eve of the party's congress this weekend.
She said when she launched her campaign in February, she had to make a decision.
"Should I be honest, open and transparent about everything that I think and feel about our party and run the risk of being labelled negative, or should I choose my words carefully?
"I concluded that honesty should always triumph over propaganda."
She said South Africans are tired of politicians who try to spin their way out of criticism.
"I wanted to be upfront and honest with you. Because only when you genuinely acknowledge and accept that something is wrong, will you work hard to find the solutions to correct them. When we are honest, we build TRUST."
She said delegates will have an important decision to make about the party on Saturday.
"The entire country is talking about our congress and waiting in anticipation for the decision you will make. The choice before us is a simple and straightforward one.
"Do we pull together and build the DA into a party for ALL South Africans and work towards becoming the governing party in SA, or do we work towards just stabilising the party and accepting we will always be in opposition?"
She invited the delegates to read recent articles about the congress.
"You will soon realise how desperate South Africa is for the DA to become the party for all South Africans and take over government. We CAN achieve this if we choose growth over just stabilising. We CAN become the government of the future if we adopt a new way.
"Let us have the courage to stand up and show South Africans that we are serious about becoming the next government in SA and not just a minority party forever."
She also thanked the delegates for the kindness they have shown her during her campaign.
Ntuli challenges interim leader John Steenhuisen for the party leadership.
On Friday, he also sent a letter to delegates.
He repeated his mantra on the campaign trail: There is nothing wrong in the DA that can't be fixed by what is right with the DA.
"Through decisive leadership, a commitment to the ABCs of politics – activism, branches and campaigning – as well as through a renewed focus on message discipline, I am absolutely convinced that the DA has what it takes to form the core of a new majority in South African politics.
"It is precisely because of my faith in the future of the DA that I also put forward a detailed plan to fix our country. In keeping with the words of our Federal Constitution, my plan is uniquely founded on the faith in the South African people," he wrote.
"We have many problems in this country. But the people of South Africa is not one of them."
He said South Africa has been brought to its knees by an "incapable and power-hungry state", which has "stolen away from the people".
He said the solution is to "flip the script by replacing state control with people power".
"My plan calls for us to base every policy decision on a single question: Does it give more power to the incapable state, or does it give more power to the people? Measuring every decision against this simple metric – and always choosing to empower the people rather than the incapable state – holds the key to fixing South Africa."
The virtual conference starts on Saturday morning, with voting for the candidates scheduled to start at 11:15.
The new leader will be announced on Sunday.