The DA is the thin blue line

On the 9th of May 2015 the DA will hold its federal congress in the politically contested city of Nelson Mandela Metro. Not only will this congress kick start the DA election campaign for 2016, it is significantly being held in a Metro that the DA is most likely to win outside of Cape Town.

Athol Trollip, the leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape

Athol Trollip, the leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape

Over the last month, there has been vigorous contestation between various party members, each with different leadership styles and offers, for the Federal Chairperson position. This can only be good for democracy.

The DA and its predecessor parties have been led by many visionary leaders, their vision will only truly be recognised once we reach our ultimate objective of becoming a national government for all South Africans. Those who gathered in Kliptown in 1955 to give birth to the freedom charter of the African National Congress wanted their party to become a government for all the people, as espoused in its preamble. Sadly the ANC has lost its way, largely due to the polarizing consequences of their racial nationalism bent.

Former President Mandela personified the very essence of reconciliation and guided our nation through a precipitous period post 1994. Tony Leon led the DP into a process of reconciliation with its former arch enemies and look what that initiative has done for reconciliation in various minority communities in South Africa. Helen Zille took up the baton from Tony Leon and championed the process of turning the DA a true political home for all South Africans.

Not only have these initiatives resulted in a proliferation of blue DA T-Shirts in communities in all corners of our land, it has also led to the DA winning power in one of the nine provinces in and winning 27 Municipalities. Our party today sets its eye and heart on winning many more councils in 2016, including the Nelson Mandela, Tshwane and Johannesburg Metros. These achievements and strategic objectives cannot realistically be attained if the DA is not a party for all South Africans.

So, a quick look at the scoreboard means that we could never have achieved all of this if we were what our opponents misrepresent us as: a white party. The DA’s achievements are of critical importance to the future of our country. We are the thin blue line to prevent our nation succumbing to the travails of racial and ethnic nationalism that have befallen other post-colonial African countries. The DA must equally not underestimate how much it has achieved in becoming, not only a political party, but a government “for all the people”.

Transformation in South Africa under an ANC government has become premised on race and racial stereotyping. Race or the colour of one’s skin does not determine one’s integrity, honesty, compassion and other human values. This phenomenon, though somewhat understandable, serves only to perpetuate the psychotic legacy of apartheid.

The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape, where I have been the leader since 2002, has defied all expectations and stereotypical political projections by political commentators by continuing to make impressive inroads into ANC strongholds across the province. Not only has our steady growth been at the expense of the ANC but of all the other opposition parties that contest for votes in this province that have black African leaders. The DA has seen off the first breakaway party from the ANC, Bantu Holomisa’s UDMand then Mosioua Lekota’s COPE.

Just last week, South Africa witnessed a seismic shift in the political landscape after the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation, (DASO) won a historic SRC election at the University of Fort Hare when it jumped from 20% of the vote two years ago, to win a majority of 53%. The ANC has been in damage control mode ever since trying to spin the story of why SASCO lost because they know that the next bastion of ANC domination to fall will be the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

Win Kouga

These kind of political fortunes have been built on the practice of selecting and electing public representatives and leaders who are fit for purpose, regardless of race. This has proven to be a recipe for success in a ‘bedrock’ ANC province such as the Eastern Cape and a principle that I am prepared to defend in the DA and in society. It is this conviction that has led me to throw my hat into the contest for the vacated position of the DA Federal Chairperson.

Transformation that leads to the normalization of an abnormal society cannot be contrived and predicated on racial nationalism and racial classification; it is based on the genuine transformation of the soul. I believe this is best described by one of South Africa’s great anti-apartheid activists, Alan Paton where he described liberalism as follows, “By liberalism I don’t mean the creed of any century. I mean a generosity of spirit, a tolerance of others, an attempt to comprehend otherness, a commitment to the rule of law, a high ideal of the worth and dignity of man….. True liberalism does not need qualifications”.  I am a disciple of this philosophy and believe that any qualification of this erodes the ideals of the DA of becoming a party for all South Africans.

Athol Trollip MPL is the Leader of the Democratic Alliance and candidate for Federal Chairperson at the party’s upcoming Federal Congress in May 2015.

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