Andrew Louw to step down as Northern Cape DA leader
Democratic Alliance Northern Cape leader, Andrew Louw, has announced that he will not be standing for re-election as the party’s provincial leader at the upcoming provincial congress.
“I am looking forward to the DA Northern Cape Provincial Congress on December 5 where I will be handing over the baton to a newly elected DA leader of our fine Province,” Louw said in a statement on Friday.
He stated that while he will remain active with the party, he will not avail himself for re-election as leader. “I strongly believe that new leadership encourages fresh ideas and that it is a cornerstone of democracy,” he said.
“I am sincerely looking forward to working with the newly-elected leadership to take the DA to new heights. Our country will be facing daunting challenges, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19, but I firmly believe that the DA is the only party that can provide real solutions and a capable state.”
Louw thanked his family, colleagues and the people of the Northern Cape “for their unwavering support over the past 10 years that I served as leader”.
Louw started off his political career as a councillor in the Sol Plaatje Municipality in 2006 and was elected to the National Assembly three years later in 2009, where he was appointed by DA Parliamentary Leader, Athol Trollip, as the Shadow Minister of Labour.
A few months later he was designated to the post of provincial leader of the party in the Northern Cape following the resignation of Chris Liebenberg.
The following year, in 2010, he was redeployed to the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, taking up his office here on September 13 2010.
Under Louw, the DA became the largest opposition party in the Province, and the Kimberley-born politician consequently took up the post of Leader of the Opposition, a post he retained in the 2019 elections when the party retained its position as official opposition.
Louw is one of a number of provincial party leaders who have announced that they will not be available for re-election and recent media reports have hinted that black leaders in the DA, who were opposed to the party’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen, were being targeted.
The articles listed several prominent black leaders who are reportedly facing disciplinary charges by the party’s federal legal commission (FLC).
DA insiders have been quoted as saying that the FLC was being used as a “hit squad” to purge black leaders opposed to Steenhuisen.
Black leaders who used to support the party’s former leader, Mmusi Maimane, were also reported to be on the FLC’s “hit list” or on the structure’s radar.
Louw was listed as among those who are facing possible disciplinary charges.
Former DA Gauteng leader, John Moodey, who also resigned from the party at the beginning of last month, stating that he no longer felt at home within a party where the constant threat of disciplinary action amounts to a ‘purge’ of those who dare speak out, pointed out yesterday that Louw’s unavailability to stand as the provincial leader, came in the wake of several other provincial leaders also not availing themselves.
Speaking to the DFA on Friday, Moodey said this followed the continuous targeting of individual leaders who supported the former leader, Mmusi Maumane.
“When you get rid of provincial leaders who form the federal executive, you essentially have absolute control of the party,” Moodey added.
He stated, however, that the DA was doing itself a great disservice by getting rid of experienced leaders on the eve of the next year’s local government elections. “It is my prediction that the DA, which lost votes in 2019, will lose even more support in next year’s elections giving the direction it is taking and purging experienced leaders. People are too afraid to speak out and say anything.”
He added that the Northern Cape would be the poorer for losing Louw as the provincial leader, pointing out that the party had seen growth and become the official opposition under his leadership, while Louw himself had also twice been nominated as the party’s Premier-candidate. “The party is losing its experienced campaigners and it is essentially going into battle headless,” he stated.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairwoman Helen Zille has meanwhile denied any purging of black leaders in the official opposition.
“We don’t have political purges in the DA,” Zille told a media briefing recenlty.
This was reiterated by DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi who said, "every member of the Democratic Alliance enjoys the same equal rights as any other member of the Democratics. Whether they are black, white, coloured or Indian."
The party stated also that the disciplinary charges against members were not meant to intimidate them.
"It would be very difficult in an organisation of due process like the DA, in an FLC that is led by Glynnis Breytenbach and Werner Horn, to argue that somehow those individuals do not have the independence and the professional ethics required of them to act fairly to everyone, to act impartially," Malatsi said.