What Is The DA Of Today?

2016-07-26 15:13

The Democratic Party (DP), now called the Democratic Alliance (DA), was formed on 8 April 1989, when the Progressive Federal Party (PFP), Independent Party (IP) and National Democratic Movement (NDM) merged.

The DP’s history can be traced back to 1959 when liberals of the United Party (UP) broke away to form the Progressive Party (PP).

In 1987, Denis Worrall, currently a key strategic member of the DA’s think tank and propagandist formed the IP. The NDM, IP and PFP disbanded to form the Democratic Party in April 1989. Zach De Beer took leadership and was key member of the DP CODESA team.

In 1994 elections the DP won 1, 7% of the vote on the national level gaining 10 Members of Parliament, under the leadership of Tony Leon. In 2000, the DP merged with Louis Luyt’s Federal Alliance. Luyt is remembered for dragging Nelson Mandela to court and fighting against transformation in rugby. The DP began merger talks with the New National Party (NNP) under Martinus van Skalkwyk who succeeded FW de Klerk as leader. The talks gave birth to the DA. This lead to extended victories in Western Cape and Cape Town in particular.

From the 1999 general election the DA grew to 9.6% of the votes and 44 seats and it grew in the 2004 general elections gaining 12.3 % of the vote, and 50 seats in the National Assembly. The NNP senior members left the DA after a fallout between Leon and van Skalkwyk - they joined the ANC as ordinary members with a few getting top government jobs.

In 2006, Tony Leon gave permission to the DP to march to President Thabo Mbeki’s private home to protest and inspect the security upgrades costs, similar to Helen Zille’s time doing it for President Jacob Zuma. Leon first introduced a black Member of Parliament, Joe Seremane. The NNP had more black Members of Parliament then the DP had. Leon and Mandela did not get along. Mandela had the most difficult presidency often called “communist” by Leon.

The party platform has been strictly open and free enterprises or markets including federalism until the election of Mmusi Maimane as leader. Maimane has pivoted towards the Communist Party recently praising Chris Hani in an Al Jazeera interview. He also praised Thabo Mbeki who had tough relationships with Maimane predecessors like Leon and Zille. Lately he has moved even closer to ANC like policies acknowledging the Freedom Charter and essentially adopting most of the ANC policies including the National Development Plan and its subsidiary strategies.

Maimane has also changed his mind on Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment giving these some nod with many qualifications. He is stuck on land policy however. He is placing the DA as the ANC of the most learned, most incorrupt and most efficient. The DA’s policy framework is empty with Maimane failing to fulfill his promise to unveil policies. Instead he has accepted most ANC policies but sells his party as the best group to deliver these ANC policies and aspirations. Maimane has now gone as far as saying his party will deliver on all Mandela’s dreams and ideals. Those who know Mandela well will realize that politically it means from strong workers union, strong State intervention in the economy, no privatization, less taxes for the poor, more taxes for business, hope for a strong State owned financial institution with retail element, extended social services and on foreign affairs a strong link with Russia, Cuba, China – a south to south strategy and a less involvement with the Western powers. Mandela’s will is in the DNA of the ANC since 1964.

How Maimane will coalescence all these under liberal and free market platform is going to be watched closely by analysts and political scientists alike. It seems his lack of experience may just catch up with him placing his nakedness to the public.

Mandela called the DA a white party and its black members stooges, sellouts and fools. The majority of blacks believe this. The party itself has a problem of racism from within and Maimane seems unable to deal with it. He is not only unable but also blind to it often denying that it even exists, but these members have called blacks apes or monkeys, referred to their fondness for the butchers of blacks PW Botha and Paul Kruger.

The media is monolithic in its bias over DA. Probing these glaring questions should be a daily task when interviewing Maimane but he gets a pass. We also are not sure how true liberals within the DA think or are they also focussed on the ballot and not their belief systems? Is the overarching desire to revenge the ANC which removed them from power?

Bo Mbindwane, on twitter at @mbindwane

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