The reason why the DA is where it is today is because of the support from conservative voters who were there before the coloured community switched allegiance from the ANC. Voting for a democratic South Africa had its limits. A majority of white people, from the NP to right-wingers, felt that they had no viable option other than to vote against the ANC (and Umkhonto We Sizwe) by voting for the DA. Fear and colour issues are unfortunately more relevant today than any claim to South Africa being a Rainbow Nation.
Afriforum take a lot of flack for seeming to be be mostly conservative, white Afrikaners. I haven’t consolidated my opinion on them yet but i do admire their persistent pluck with regards several issues such as anti-fracking, anti-Mugabe, farm murders and wanting to independently test the quality of South Africa’s water supplies. I find their criticism of the DA particularly relevant as many white people who think they’re liberals (but through their opinions and actions are as conservative as can be) are also worried at the DA’s new direction. Some consider it a betrayal.
Although i believe that the DA is becoming ANC version 2.0, this blog isn’t my argument for any side – it’s to inform you of different opinions as May 7, the date for South Africa’s general election, approaches. Kallie Kriel, the CEO of AfriForum, had this to say:
The decision of the DA’s national leadership to support the ANC’s Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill is politically reckless. With this move the party has placed property rights, free market principles and food security at risk in an opportunistic and short-term effort to win new votes.
Long after the results of the 2014 elections have faded in memory, however, ordinary South Africans will still be paying the price for this legislation. The decision by the DA leadership to support this Bill lends false credibility to the radicalisation of the ANC’s economic policy. Property rights are fundamental to any successful economy, and undermining them will eventually lead to economic implosion.
We have an example on our doorstep: In Zimbabwe the assault on property rights led to skyrocketing inflation which completely destroyed the value of its currency and resulted in an unemployment rate of 90%.
The ANC’s systematic effort to erode property rights, now aided and abetted by the DA leadership, must inevitably deter further investment in South Africa. This is something no country can afford, and especially ours, given the current economic uncertainty brought about the recent violent strikes and protest action.
The support of the DA leadership of a political policy which threatens food security is especially irresponsible towards the poor – the very people whose support these policies are meant to secure. Investors will not put money into an agricultural environment which faces protracted land claims. Production will be stymied and job opportunities will be lost. Less food also means more expensive food.
One must also wonder where the national leadership of the DA now stands in terms of its traditional voters. These voters supported the DA in good faith during previous elections, thinking that their vote for the official opposition acted as a counterbalance to destructive ANC policies. These included the ruling party’s disregard for property rights. This sudden about-face by the DA leadership is not compatible with the legitimate expectations of their supporters.
Another question to be asked is what the party’s attitude is towards local DA representatives who have worked very hard at local level to build up the DA as an opposition to the ANC. These people did not break their backs for the DA just to see their leaders selling them down the river to the ANC.
Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of the DA’s support still comes from minority communities (see here). Apart from the property rights debacle, the DA leadership has also indicated recently that race, rather than need, should be the indicator in affirmative action policy. With this move, the DA acted directly against the interests of its “brown, Indian and white” voters.
AfriForum took a decision at its inception to operate independently from party politics and not to oppose or support any opposition party. This decision has enabled the organisation to unite its members across the traditional boundaries of party politics in order to achieve shared goals such as proper service delivery and the protection of civil rights.
AfriForum currently represents more than 84 000 active members and is part of the greater Solidarity Movement, which represents 235 000 families. When the DA leadership starts acting in a way that undermines the interests of members and their families, AfriForum will not stay silent.
It will be a massive miscalculation on the part of the DA leadership to simply assume that their traditional voters will remain loyal. These supporters are not voting cattle who will blindly and unquestioningly follow wherever they are led. Their votes are worth something and must be earned, the same as any other vote.
In the run-up to the elections AfriForum expects of the DA leadership to explain to its traditional voters where the party is headed. This will enable voters to take an informed decision about their support in the upcoming elections. AfriForum will remain independent from party politics and will refrain from telling anyone for which party to vote and whom to avoid. But the organisation will fight for the rights of voters to be informed properly about policies, and to ensure that the party for which they vote will protect their interests and not sell them out once their votes have been cast.