ActionSA Herman Mashaba
ActionSA Herman Mashaba

DA is morphing back into the DP

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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Michael Beaumont

CAPE TOWN - I cannot say that I was shocked when I learnt of the DA pumping millions of rands into radio adverts attacking ActionSA, and it’s leader, Herman Mashaba.

It was probably the exact moment, in a long series of moments, that demonstrated how the DA has completed its complete regression back to being the Democratic Party (DP).

The DA of 2016 saw its purpose as uniting South Africans behind the vision of being an alternative to the ANC.

It caused the ANC sleepless nights as its efforts to diversify its leadership saw it making real gains in ANC strongholds.

The DP saw its purpose to consolidate the opposition vote to become a stronger opposition party itself.

Its primary electoral target was not the ANC, it was the National Party and other opposition parties. There was no diversity, and it could hold its meetings in the lifts of Parliament.

This is why I say that the DA of 2021 resembles more of the DP pre – 2000 than it does the DA of 2016 that unseated the ANC from Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Some may even draw parallels between its Phoenix posters last week with its Fight Back posters of 1999.

Like many things with the DA of current, its decision to produce radio adverts attacking ActionSA and Herman Mashaba is going to backfire very badly – another act of self-mutilation in a long series of such acts.

Firstly, you cannot squeeze another party if you are on the back foot.

A party’s ability to produce a credible squeeze campaign is directly proportional to the trust in its reputation.

In this regard, the declining DA of 2021 does not have the same credibility it relied upon in the past when it sought to squeeze other parties at a time when it was growing.

Secondly, it is contradictory. You do not spend millions of rands referencing another political party. It is truly not registering a lot of support, because it would be inflating perception of its strength.

So, when the DA says that ActionSA is polling at 1% - they are referencing a national poll across 278 municipalities of which ActionSA is contesting six.

The only polling into any of those six municipalities puts ActionSA at 31% and ahead of the DA (24% down from 38%), ANC (30% down from 44%) and EFF (7% down from 12%).

Thirdly, the advert opens the door to the most uncomfortable truth about the DA regression back to the DP.

The DA no longer challenges the ANC for votes. Two years of its new pale and unqualified leadership has alienated potential black support (built over a decade) by denying the relevance of race and patronizing young, black, unemployed graduates telling them degrees are irrelevant.

Fourthly it contains many lies, and the problem with lies is that they tend to come back and bite you.

When it came to the choice to enter coalitions which depended on the EFF in 2016, the DA’s Federal Executive made that decision.

At the time, Herman Mashaba was not even a member of that decision-making body. However, everyone of the DA’s current leadership was part of that body which saw every single member of the DA’s Federal Executive vote for the decision – barring one. How else would you explain the DA’s dependency on the EFF in Tshwane, which Herman Mashaba had no role in.

After these decisions, Herman Mashaba was left to make a difficult coalition work – and he did this better than any other Mayor governing in coalition after 2016.

If all logic fails, let’s go with the irony that the DA’s campaign in Johannesburg is currently misappropriating the coalition government successes emanating from the very arrangement that they approved then, and want to criticise now.

Finally, over time, South Africans have grown increasingly impatient with the DA chastising messages telling them “you must do this” or “you must not do that.”

As much as the DA may have drunk the Kool-Aid, many voters are quite logically and rationally looking elsewhere with their votes. They are not crazy, they are not stupid, they have just grown weary of political parties that have taken their support in the past and alienated them in the years in-between elections.

  • Beaumont is ActionSA National Chairperson

Cape Times

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