16 years into our democracy and the DA still doesn’t get it

Here’s a thought: The Democratic Alliance’s lackadaisical and at times seemingly disdainful attitude toward black voters is one of, if not the biggest impediment to developing a healthy democracy in South Africa.

Think about it. The ANC has been over-promising and under-delivering for almost 17 years now, yet it trounces all the other political parties (except the DA in their Western Cape enclave) come election time. The problem isn’t primarily unyielding loyalty to the ANC by the black masses; it’s the lack of a viable alternative. For many, myself included, the DA is not a viable alternative, and this tweet from the party’s chairperson of the Cape metro region, Grant Pascoe, sums up the reason why:

16yrs on into our democracy and the black majority still claim the white minority is oppressing them. Am I missing something???Sun Jan 30 11:08:25 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Yes, Mr Pascoe, you and the DA are missing something. Almost 12 million somethings, actually.

As encapsulated in this tweet, the DA has done sweet nothing to understand the black majority. When the DA is told that black professionals feel that Cape Town is a racist city, their leader Helen Zille dismisses it as ANC propaganda. When the residents in the Makhaza area bemoaned having to use toilets without walls and the Human Rights Commission ruled in their favour, Helen Zille went on the offensive again with a disingenuous response that showed no real understanding of the problems faced by the people who she expects to vote for her party.

Examples like these of the DA’s casual disregard of issues affecting black voters are plenty – at least enough to allow black voters to continue to distrust the DA. How can the DA expect that this group of people – who the party has not tried hard enough to understand, engage or cater to – will vote for them? It can’t. I won’t.

What our democracy needs most right now is a strong opposition party that represents a viable alternative to the ANC, and at that the DA has failed abysmally thanks to its attitude. And worse yet, the DA, I am beginning to suspect, has become an impediment to other parties that could potentially become the kind of opposition party that South Africa needs.


P.S. Yes, Mr Pascoe’s coloured, but his attitudes/views are shaped and influenced by his party.

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12 thoughts on “16 years into our democracy and the DA still doesn’t get it

  1. Phoebe says:

    ‘The average income of whites is nearly eight times higher than that of blacks.’ ~ The SA Institute of Race Relations 1 Feb 2011

    p.s. Perhaps Mr Pascoe’s views are shaped and influenced by the allegiance to his profitable ‘better’ half

  2. Reagen says:

    Well written argument, I assume the writer hereof resides in Cape Town. Allow me to place my one and a half cents in the conversation.

    Your suggestion that the DA is an impediment to other parties leaves me baffled seeing the Western Cape is the best run province in the entire SA. I see the DA no longer as a mere opposition party but more of a party of governance. Racial identity starts to matter less as many of our people live in abject poverty, together with the them feeling the bite of sheer incompetency, so its not about who earns what, or how much, its delivering service, creating conditions that is conducive for citizens.

    I would like to hear your views on how you foresee the possibility of another party rising up.

    Ps: Great mobi site.

    • T.O.M says:

      Yes — I’m a Cape Town resident. Racial identity will always matter. We can’t wish it away.

      If the DA were to disband (wildest dreams stuff here), it could pave the way for the formation of another party whose support base transects racial lines. Voters of every colour would get behind a party like that and the ANC’s domination could come to an end.

      Right now, the DA is not doing anyone (especially SA) any favours by isolating black voters.

  3. Gary Lombard says:

    Maybe the DA should start the business of false promises, cronism and subscribing to BEE and AA policies that only benefit 15% of the black population and then they will start getting the support of the black population. Instead of referring to all people as South Africans, thereby encompassing all race groups, the DA should start referring to people as comrades and HDIs – code for blacks only, and then, maybe, this author will start regarding the DA as non-racist.

    • T.O.M says:

      The DA should start the business of being a proper opposition party by critically reexamining how it engages with black voters. That is the only way it will ever become the ruling party. Oh wait, there’s another way. Just wait it out each election earning 5% more of the vote. By my calculations, that should happen in 2047 or there about.

      Btw. I’m not sure what the ANC comparison in your comment was getting at, but I don’t regard the ANC as not being “non-racist”. I don’t have much regard for the ANC at all, in fact. So you don’t need to protect the DA from me.

  4. Thembha says:

    T.O.M suggest that if the DA dissolves there is a chance of other parties emerging and forming a good opposition. 1. The DA positioned itself as a party of gorvenance and no more an opposition, 2 by other parties u mean that circus called COPE, UDM or the newly founded NFP.? The shackles binding you are getting heavier each and every day. In SA there are 2 choices, the failing ANC or the delivering DA.

    • T.O.M says:

      What shackles might these be, hmmm?

      I was not referring to Cope, UDM or any of the other dysfunctional parties, but thanks for putting words in my mouth. I did say wildest dreams stuff, baba.

  5. Mason says:

    To say the DA is completely useless in its supposed march to power is an understatement of the century i mean this party ,and i say that loosely thinks it can treat one race with utmost respect and dignity while isolating another which just so happens to be a majority.I mean if you want to win an election you have to kiss babies and smile at all black and white.Little can be said for the defunct ID who in thier quest for acceptance were dissolved as soon as zille declared Pat as white as it gets. DA what a joke.

  6. Simon says:

    I am starting to get really bored of the whole fixed mentality about CT being the best-run city in SA. I am certainly not denying that it is, but I would imagine that many people who subscribe to this are unaware of the major upliftment of areas in South Africa in municipalities outside the Western Cape. Newtown and Soweto are two areas which are superb examples of how a great area full of culture and rising levels of safety can come out of beaten down, Apartheid-black zones. Alexandra is also having money poured into it (certainly when I last visited which, admittedly, was rather a long time ago as I moved to CT in 2009). Cape Town may be the “best-run city in SA” because the robots all work and post-pay electricity billing isn’t a balls-up and there aren’t any beggars, but Johanesburg is well-run for other reasons by other people – certainly to an arguable extent.

    I think it’s unfair to just ignore it.

  7. Dr.Durbs says:

    Really good points, well made. There are people in the DA who will listen carefully to this. The fact that you are offering good advice to the DA speaks even louder than the words themselves. The DA would do very well to engage with you further on this.

  8. Jethro L says:

    I am really impressed by this letter and would ask the author to explain what it is he wants the DA to do to make the “black” voters happy. They have delivered more houses to the impoverished than the ANC ever did and they are continuing to improve themselves as a political party. I ask for the author to please explain exactly what it is that the DA is getting wrong. At least they are trying to make things better. There are no others that are doing the same as everyone else just seems to be in it for the money. I am a DA candidate and can assure you that the policies and performance management systems that the DA have in place are all about making everyone responsible for the positions they hold as elected officials and we are expected to maintain a standard of service delivery that is nothing short of being corporate. I would ask that anyone who has advice on how to attract everyone to the party including the “black” voters should please send us suggestions. We are always willing to listen and give cognizances to sound ideas which are sustainable and which do not involve corrupt actions or coercion to win votes.

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