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Racialism : The DA’s Rubicon June 16, 2011

Posted by cmfry in DA, Politics, Uncategorized.
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In South Africa, today is Youth Day. We celebrate the youth’s invaluable contribution to the struggle for liberation. It is especially poignant today as, on June 16, 1976, the Soweto uprising occurred where students took to the streets in protest of Afrikaans being the language of instruction for Bantu Education (as stipulated by the apartheid government). It is widely believed that uprising kick-started the liberation struggle in South Africa which resulted in democracy in 1994.

However, in the light of the recent local government elections, and subsequent commentaries by various ministers, the African National Congress seems hellbent on using racialism as a means to cling to power. In the recent election debates, through various media, virtually every ANC had no viable strategy for combating the corruption and cronyism that has cripled move than half of the municipalities in this nation. As a result, the Democratic Alliance‘s message of “Service Delivery for all” was embraced by more voters in different regions by various racial groups than ever before. Among black voters, although the gains were small, the percentage increase was significant enough for most political journalists to sit up and take notice of the DA’s rising influence in the local government halls of power.

However, as long as the ANC persists with the racial card, the DA will find it difficult to garner enough support to change the balance of power in parliament. The DA’s greatest challenge right now is that its leadership does not adequately represent all the racial groups within South Africa. The task of redressing this issue, in my humble opinion, is  certainly not insurmountable. The strategy increase support in the May 18 election clearly worked, and to keep the momentum going, I would say a 3-pronged strategy would be needed.

Firstly, we have to continue to grow leaders from within. The DA Young Leaders program and the LEAD project has unearthed some young, raw talent that already has been converted to competent public representation. In the YLP class of 2008, my year, 4 people are now local councillors, 3 run the DA Youth wing, 1 came within 800 votes of the Kwazulu-Natal legislature, and virtually all of us are involved in DA political activity in some shape or form. This is clearly a good breeding ground for talent, and would complement other efforts to raise the party’s profile among all race groups. There are other leaders like Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane, who have not come through LEAD or the YLP. The process of growing these leaders from within will be slow, but the fruits of it are already being seen.

Secondly, the strategy of using the web as means of communication and awareness must continue. The DA used the platforms of Twitter and FaceBook extremely well in the election campaign. As complimentary to this, other forms of mobile communication can be used to convey the message of the Open, Opportunity Society for All. There have been 2 mobile communication conferences in Cape Town in the past 2 weeks, and both of them have explored the vast opportunities that have arisen out of the rise of the smartphone. While this technology might not be available to all at present, it will almost certainly define the future of communication. Exploiting the opportunities presented now will ensure that the DA remains the leader in mobile communication within the political sphere

Although the above points are important, they pale in comparison to the last one. DA leaders who have worked hard to gain a significant media presence, but be constantly seen in areas in which the DA would not normally be associated with. And those of us who have a rising profile must use the opportunity to be seen spreading the party message in all parts of our land. This strategy, used effectively until the 2014 General Election, will ensure that by then, we would have made significant inroads into the racial debate to which the ANC currently holds so dear. Using a mixture of young and established leaders in these areas will demonstrate the seriousness of the DA’s intention to be a party for all South Africans. Once this is achieved, the quest for governance in 2014 will be a significant factor in yet another change in South Africa’s political landscape.

To close, in 49 B.C. , Julius Caesar, after amassing a sizable military (and wealth), had to decide whether to follow the Roman protocol and surrender his army, or cross the Rubicon, declare war on the present, and change history forever. Before crossing the Rubicon, he famously declared, “Alea Jacta Est” (The die is now cast).

Forward to the day when Helen Zille stands at the gates of parliament and cries,

“Isinqumo sesithathiwe”

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