Gwen Ngwenya resigned as the Democratic Alliance’s head of policy today, and with her goes any chance of redeeming the party among liberals. According to Business Day, she resigned because the party refuses to drop BBBEE (an African National Congress policy) from its election platform. The transformation that began under Helen Zille from a liberal party fighting for the rights of the individual no matter, what to a party that judges people on the basis of skin colour, sex, etc. as long as it wins them votes, is now complete.
This is a sad day for South African liberals who have been fighting for liberty since long before I was born, who built what became the Democratic Alliance (DA), nurtured it during the dark days of apartheid, and grew its voter base under impossible odds. The DA is flirting with collectivism at the same time as the ruling party is busy converting South Africa into a full-blown socialist state. Rather than distinguish itself in terms of principle from the African National Congress (ANC), they are staking out a position as the anti-corruption version of the ANC.
Some of you might dispute Zille’s role in turning the DA into what it has become. This might be because Mmusi Maimane displays greater illiberal tendencies in his leadership style and the policies he champions. But he is also Premier Zille’s protege and chosen successor. While she was leader of the party, Zille was quoted at a Black Management Forum event as saying:
“I can tell you, if she was white, no matter how brilliant she was, she would have not been the leader of the opposition when she was less than 31 [years old]”.
This was in reference to Lindiwe Mazibuko, her other protege.
It should have been clear to a party that fought against the inhumanity of apartheid that history was repeating itself. The DA’s own predecessors were young turks who broke away from the United Party when it was trying to compromise with the National Party’s racial nationalism in order to “win votes”. Seem familiar? The DA has become an empty husk, driven by no principle except the crass desire to be in power, prostituting everything that once made it great for one more vote.
In her resignation letter Gwen writes, “ideas are not a battleground the DA likes to tread”, and this has become increasingly clear over the past few months as the party lurches incoherently from one contradictory position to the next. Saying good things on one day and the opposite thing tomorrow, depending on the prevailing winds. The DA has become a sad parody of itself. It has sold out the multi-generational work of liberal activists for a mere 30 pieces of silver: the votes of socialists.
The funny thing is that the DA brought Gwen on board as a token. Not as a token black, but as a token liberal. They gave her a corner office and paid her no mind while she diligently and passionately tried to steer the DA’s political programme toward coherence. This PR stunt was done in a pathetic attempt for the DA to keep its traditional liberal base.
It has become clear to me that the DA is doing all that it can to distance itself from my principles. The fear of the ANC is no longer enough. A party so devoid of principle as the DA cannot counter the ANC and its National Democratic Revolution. I am certain that the DA would implement the National Democratic Revolution itself if it could get just a few more votes – that’s how far the party has fallen.
If there be any liberals remaining in the party, it is time to stand up and be counted, otherwise you betray the true liberals who stood on principle when it was riskier and harder to do than nowadays. If liberals in the DA continue remaining silent, Harry Schwarz and the young turks who risked their political careers and, oftentimes, their own freedom, will surely turn in their graves.