DA leaders require training to get past racial factions, advises review panel

21 October 2019 - 20:12 By Amil Umraw
The DA is divided between two factions, largely along racial lines, states a new internal report.
The DA is divided between two factions, largely along racial lines, states a new internal report.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

A review panel's report on the DA has recommended that the party provides leadership training to root out racial divisions in the party.

The report stems from an assessment of the organisation commissioned by party leader Mmusi Maimane after the DA's poor showing at this year’s general elections.

A panel - consisting of former party executive Ryan Coetzee, former leader Tony Leon and Capitec founder Michiel le Roux - conducted the review and penned the report, which was presented at the party’s federal council meeting over the weekend.

It found that there was a “significant internal division over the place of race in the life of the party”.

There appeared to be two factions in this regard. “On the one hand, there are those who feel the party seeks to achieve diversity by promoting people on the basis of race and that this is contrary to the DA’s values. There is further concern among this group that some public representatives are increasingly mobilising on the basis of race in pursuit of their personal career objectives,” states the report.

“On the other hand, there are people who feel that too many in the DA fail to understand their experience, seek to exclude them from full participation in the life of the party and resist the need for diversity and redress.”


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The report recommended that the party provides training on how to lead diverse groups of people in “emotionally charged environments”.

Promoting diversity in the party will not be an easy task, however.

“On the one hand, selecting or promoting people simply on the basis of their race or other demographic characteristics is a violation of the DA’s values; on the other hand, lists and caucuses that are not diverse undermine the DA’s claim to be a party for all South Africans,” states the report.

“The DA’s current nomination regulations are actually an impressively sophisticated attempt to square this circle ... It respects principle and where it compromises, it does so in a limited fashion, acknowledging that the compromise is indeed a compromise. But the aim of course should be to achieve diversity without having to adjust lists.”

The report aims to achieve this level of diversity by 2024. To do so, it recommends:

  • a structured, "always-on" programme to recruit a wider range of high-quality candidates into the party;
  • a mechanism that allows for the insertion of some of these candidates into the party’s lists in electable positions;
  • not promoting the same person to a higher position on any list more than once in their careers, on the grounds that five years’ experience as a public representative should be sufficient to empower anyone to compete without the need for such promotion;
  • intensifying the training and development programme for public representatives to impart concrete, measurable improvements in the skills and attributes required to succeed at the job; and
  • reviewing the assessments used during candidate selection with the aim of ensuring that all the skills and attributes successful candidates require are recognised and fairly accounted for.

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