Steenhuisen to DA delegates: Internal fighting will hurt us at the polls next year

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John Steenhuisen.
John Steenhuisen.
Felix Dlangamandla
  • The DA's interim leader has hit back at his detractors in a letter to party members.
  • John Steenhuisen said he would never trash the party for social media clicks and headlines. 
  • He adds that aspirant leaders need to think of the party come 2021, instead of trashing it.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has taken a thinly veiled dig at his rival, Mbali Ntuli, saying leaders publicly attacking the party could do damage to its chances in the 2021 local government elections. 

In a letter to party delegates on Wednesday, which News24 has seen, Steenhuisen said he loves the DA more than he covets his position. 

"I want to get as many councillors across the finish line next year and we can only do this if we are seen as a functioning party that fights for the interests of citizens and not among itself for the sake of social media clicks and headlines," he said.  

Steenhuisen has spoken out after former party leaders criticised the incumbent leadership for purging dissenting voices in the party. 

Bemoaning

News24 reported on Tuesday that DA leadership hopeful Ntuli wrote to delegates bemoaning the party's leaders for creating a cult-like culture and an "insider and outsider clique", which was destroying the party. 

READ | Policy conference DA leaves race out of redress equation

Ntuli's utterances followed the resignation of another DA leadership candidate, John Moodey, who in his resignation speech trashed the party and identified an atmosphere of intimidation. 

In his letter, Steenhuisen said he was not blind to some of the problems facing the party.

He added that he loved the DA, which was why he would never trash the party in public. 

And I know, as you know, that voters are turned off when the DA turns inwards. Our own review report told us this. Voters rightfully ask themselves, 'if the DA is fighting among themselves, when will they fight for me?'

"That is why I have spent a lot of time engaging directly with delegates through virtual town-hall meetings in every province because they are the only ones who will be voting in this congress.

"While it might be popular with the commentators and twitter to attack your own party, I have chosen to rather be forthright with you in these meetings," he said. 

In an interview with the Sunday Times, former DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the DA's decision on race would further drive black voters from the party, an issue which had been central to him leaving.

The DA recently resolved that it would not recognise race in its redress policy.

The resolutions have been challenged by Ntuli, who called on federal council chair Helen Zille to include resolutions in its policy conference for discussion at the upcoming elective conference for possible review and rectification. 

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