It was naive to think race was not relevant when electing leadership, DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango said.
Mncwango believed the fight to amend the party’s constitution to include diversity as one of its values was winnable if members honestly acknowledged the historical context.
“It’s unfortunate that it seems like we are not pulling in the same direction, even for liberals. In South Africa you can’t say race is not relevant when we elect leadership. It’s impossible and naive if we act as if we all start on an equal footing,” Mncwango said.
The race issue has taken centre stage ahead of the party’s federal congress following a five-page letter written by MPs Michael Cardo and Gavin Davis.
“If these reports are to be believed, the ‘progressives’ want race quotas applied to the party’s representatives in Parliament and other legislatures. The ‘progressives’ (who are almost always quoted anonymously) speak a sort of dialect of ANC-ese, in which terms like racial ‘transformation’ and demographic ‘representivity’ are parroted unselfconsciously,” they wrote.
Cardo and Davis welcomed the addition of diversity as a value, but decried its loose definition.
However, Mncwango said their call was misunderstood as they were not asking that diversity supersede merit.
“We are not calling for a quota system; we are saying DA members must understand that this model of liberalism that speaks of fair opportunity regardless of race does not work in the context of South Africa, where some were sidelined on the basis of their race,” he explained.