Johannesburg - Opposition strength in South Africa has decreased compared to 1994, former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said on Wednesday.
“Although the overall opposition strength today is slightly less than it was back then (when two provinces were outside ANC control), the opposition terrain today itself incontestably belongs to the DA and the wind seems set fair for a resounding electoral performance next year.”
In a speech prepared for delivery in Johannesburg, Leon said the last election revealed that the DA had unchallenged support among minority voters.
“The last census showed that this is a reducing bloc of supporters. The key dilemma (and it is not new, incidentally, only more urgent) is how to grow the party in a new market where the majority lives and votes, while retaining faith with core values and old voters.”
He said in order to attract more votes from black South Africans the DA had to close the distance between itself and the majority.
“Something which has far more to do with tone, familiarity, identity and other intangibles and less to do with objective policy propositions.
“But there will be a temptation to soft-pedal certain propositions in order not to scare off new potential voters.”
He said the DA could not be just a patronage machine providing a “catch all” Ä scooping up every shade of disaffected government supporter, from alienated Marxists to losers in the government procurement stakes.
“Obviously politics is crucially about numbers. But as the party grows and as some outsize personalities, some carrying a great deal of baggage around with them indeed, are attracted to its ranks, just be sure that the welcome mat is also marked with some clear red lines which new and old recruits only cross at their peril.”
Leon was the leader of the DA from 1999-2007. Although still a member of the DA, he served as the South African ambassador to Argentina under the ANC government from 2009 to 2012. - Sapa