Analysis of the DA teeters on absurd foundations
The headline of Yunus Momoniat's critique of the DA, "White leaders in the DA just don't get the black voter" (May 13), suggests that the writer has an insight into the mind of the "black voter" - a curiously uniform group of millions of people sharing a common aspiration and, apparently, a common disdain for the DA.
Being a black voter, this was news to me. I hadn't realised my hopes and dreams, along with my voting choice, were predetermined by my race, and so I hoped to learn more about what I was meant to find objectionable in the DA.
One of Momoniat's gripes seems to be that the official opposition party is just too oppositional, abrasive and disrespectful. He says "In parliament, the DA insisted it had to hold the ANC to account" - as though this was somehow overstepping the mark and offensive. The DA was doing its job, and doing it well. Almost every recent victory against corruption and poor governance has its genesis in the DA's robust opposition. The party will take such criticism as a compliment.
He goes on to say any attempt to woo black voters under the leadership of Helen Zille was doomed to fail because, in his analysis, the party had to appease "its most significant bloc" - National Party voters. He offered no facts and no explanation as to who these supposed NP voters were. The truth is that the DA's growth among black voters has been remarkable. Despite Momoniat's best efforts to sketch the DA as a party of whites for whites, they make up less than half the DA's voters.He then tries to fan the conspiracy theory that black women in the DA have a target on their back, by trying to link the resignations of DA members in recent years to the Patricia de Lille matter in the hope of establishing a trend. There is no such trend, just as there is no trend in the ANC to fire black men despite the party having ousted Jacob Zuma and, hopefully soon, Supra Mahumapelo.
But arguably the most bizarre part of his critique is when he starts listing the policy issues on which the DA differs from the ANC, as if the DA should somehow be more ANC-like in its approach if it wants to appeal to this mythical "black voter".
Half the time he gets it completely wrong, stating as fact that the DA is "dead set against BEE" or that the DA "does not support land distribution". Neither of these statements is even remotely true. What is true is that the DA doesn't support the ANC's idea of BEE, whereby connected cronies get re-enriched and the poor remain excluded. Redress should be truly broad-based and should open opportunities for ordinary South Africans, and this is what the DA supports.
Nor does the DA support the ANC's disastrous land reform model that has almost nothing to show after 24 years. The DA believes in empowerment through full title deed, not some half-baked version where poor black South Africans remain permanent tenants of the state.Where he does get it right, he ends up making the DA's case for it. Yes, the DA wants to discipline workers who trash city streets during strikes. Yes, the DA supports free trade. Yes, the DA believes in growing the cake rather than just redistributing what is already there. You'd think this would be obvious, but Momoniat offers these statements as scathing critique.
I suppose we can expect more such "analysis" in the coming months. We're less than a year from national elections, and the stakes have never been higher. For many, the need to paint the DA as a small, white, racist party has become more urgent than ever. It is a last-gasp defence.
Luckily I know that millions of black South Africans do not share Momoniat's view. They do not see themselves as voting extensions of their skin colour. They do not consider themselves "the black voter".
They are men and women with their own ideas, their own dreams and their own free choice. And it is their free and informed choice that will determine the future of this country.
• Nt'sekhe is DA national spokeswoman and deputy federal chairperson