IN QUOTES | 'We will lead the debate on dealing with poverty,' says the DA's John Steenhuisen

18 November 2019 - 09:41 By Cebelihle Bhengu
John Steenhuisen was elected interim leader of the DA on Sunday.
John Steenhuisen was elected interim leader of the DA on Sunday.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

The year is ending on a high note for the DA's former chief whip, John Steenhuisen. He was elected as the party's interim leader on Sunday. Steenhuisen beat Gauteng member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Makashule Gana to the position.

Shortly after his election was announced, the party held a media briefing where Steenhuisen clarified the way forward.

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Here's what he had to say:

I will serve all, regardless of race 

“Yes, I happen to be a white South African, but I want people to judge me not on the colour of my skin, but rather on the quality of contribution that I can make to improving the lives of South Africans. You don't have to look or speak a certain way to speak out against injustice. We have a history of people in our party, like Helen Suzman, who didn't need to look like the people they were fighting for.”

The DA will save SA 

“SA is in such a deep crisis. Ten million unemployed South Africans, the education system that is failing young people, very few opportunities for graduates who are leaving universities, SOEs that are about to explode the balance sheet of SA and widespread corruption. SA is a patient in deep crisis and people are becoming less concerned about the colour of the doctor who will perform the life-saving operation that gets SA from where it is to where it needs to be.” 

Helen Zille will oversee head of policy appointment 

“That process is still ongoing. Our federal executive will be convening later this week. Helen Zille will be leading the discussion on that particular matter within the federal executive.”

Eradicating poverty 

“I want our party to be one that is leading the debate on how we actually get to grips with dealing with poverty. People living at home without opportunity, without a job and no hope for the future are looking desperately to political parties to lift them out of the situation and put them on to a of opportunity that means they will change their lives, and live lives of value.”

The DA is willing to work with other parties 

“I do believe that coalition governments are the future in SA. I think that it's going to be harder for any party in the country to win an outright majority, particularly as we go into the local government elections. We'd love to win an outright majority in every municipality in the country, but the reality in politics is different. These coalitions must be grounded in value, there is no use going into coalitions where you end up destroying your brand as a political party. We will be talking to parties like the IFP and others, including the political spectrum we're currently in."

The Democratic Alliance elected John Steenhuisen as its new interim leader on November 17 2019. Steenhuisen beat Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana in the race. Here's a look at Steenhuisen's road to the top.