POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE: Is the DA’s policy manifesto merely ‘Ramaphosa-light’?
Ihave serious concerns about the DA’s performance as the official opposition in South Africa at the moment. My first concern is that the DA keeps having wonderful ideas that ‘self-puncture’, and these moments overshadow the party’s achievements.
In this regard, there is no better example than the saga that unfolded around the resignation of the former mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille. Nobody got out unscathed; it was painful.
In the latest instalment of the Days of the DA soap opera, it has acknowledged the criminal charges laid by De Lille against top party members, but said it was also looking forward to the outcome of a police investigation into corruption involving her.
De Lille said that in April, four members of the DA forged a statement by the Auditor-General, and shared it on social media. The Office of the Auditor-General has since said the statement was fake and that the document that claimed to represent its office had been forged. Now, as we try to put all the scandals the party has been embroiled in during recent times behind us, I believe it is important to look at the DA’s message, and at its success stories. We should also look at those areas of debate where there is (supposedly) policy friction with the ANC.
This is my second concern: I couldn’t find any. As a party, the DA is failing to publicly make good, solid policy pronouncements, so I went to have a look at the party’s website.
The DA says on its website: “The only party to have grown in every election since 1994, we are working to unite our country to build one South Africa for all. A South Africa of hope, focused on putting all South Africans first.”
Further investigation of the party’s policy documents on the website indicates that most of these policies do not deal explicitly with an economic plan, but rather look at the intersection of the social, economic and political challenges that face South Africa.
With regard to agriculture, I read, under the headings ‘Your Land’ and ‘Land Reform Policy’, that to achieve the DA’s objective of an open opportunity society for all, the party’s economic and social policies are primarily aimed at creating the circumstances for growth and job creation.
“In rural economies South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes the majority of South Africans from land assets and inclusion in rural economies,” it says.
“The DA supports a land reform process that achieves redress in rural communities, promotes economic inclusion to lift rural people out of poverty, and supports growth and prosperity in the agriculture sector.
“As land and land-use is intricately tied to food production and food security, policies that affect land ownership and land-use must prioritise the need to ensure the continued supply of food at prices that are affordable to ordinary South Africans.”
There is nothing about a Constitution change in the da’s land reform policy
Social democratic intervention
These statements could have been written by President Cyril Ramaphosa! Except for a racial de-emphasis, this is social democratic intervention involving redress for past wrongs. There is nothing about changing the Constitution. Essentially, this proposal is more openly neo-liberal with regard to the economy, but I have a feeling this is a ‘Ramaphosa-light’ version.
So, after this short investigation, I still feel that the DA is not gathering enough energy into the party, given the current weakened state of its position.
I believe the official opposition party should be seen and heard to speak out more on substantial issues.
The problem might be that the DA is trying to be a ‘catch-all’ party, and maybe some of its messages would not go down equally well everywhere.
Political perspective by Dr Jan VenterDr Jan Venter is a political analyst at Aginfo. Email him at [email protected]