- The DA says the shift in its policy direction has nothing to do with the upcoming polls.
- The party's policy head Gwen Ngwenya says there's been no report or evidence to suggest the electorate will reject it.
- She also says the economic justice policy has been ready for two years and that previous leaders changed the party's position on redress at least three times.
The DA's head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, says there is "zero" evidence the party's policy of redress, which leaves out race as a factor, will be rejected at the polls.
This past weekend, the DA held its inaugural policy conference, in which the party said race must not be considered in transformation policies.
The party recommitted itself to its values and rubber stamped its previous rejection of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE).
Ngwenya told journalists at a virtual media briefing on Monday that DA policies were evidence-based and also reflective of the values and principles enshrined in the party.
She said, based on literature on the matter, most people did not feel current empowerment policies worked for them and that they responded positively when asked if they would support policies that benefited all South Africans while uplifting the poor.
"There is just zero evidence that South Africans would not support a policy that is both non-racial and achieves economic inclusion," said Ngwenya.
She said the hard task was taking this decision to the electorate to explain why it was taken. Also, she did not believe South Africans should be undermined in terms of understanding or supporting this approach to redress.
"The economic justice policy has been ready for two years... the position on empowerment, I think, changed three times under the last leadership precisely because the party would not have the conversation around what the economic policy should be; had we had it sooner, there would have been clarity sooner," said Ngwenya.
The DA was lambasted for the move, with some arguing the party was slowly moving back to its former posture under the leadership of Tony Leon, when it was still the Democratic Party, with several others decrying the decision to affirm its stance on removing race from redress as regression.
Ngwenywa, in explaining the thinking behind the decision when it came to the DA’s economic justice policy, said the question that remained after 25 years with the ANC government at the helm, was how to address economic exclusion.
She said understanding the drivers of economic exclusion was the answer and that someone's race did not speak to this.
Ngwenya defended the DA's position, while recognising racism and its impact on the country.
"It's important to recognise that racism and race itself need not be linked; race is recognised as a false concept, but just because the belief in race is false, doesn't mean people wouldn't do very terrible things on the basis of that false belief," said Ngwenya.
Using the Holocaust and witch burnings in South Africa as examples, she said people did atrocious things based on false beliefs.
"Race doesn't have to be true for people to do absolutely horrendous things on the basis of their false beliefs in race," said Ngwenya.
The DA was expected to hold its electoral conference in October.