DA interim leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

DA rejects use of quotas to attain diversity

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Sep 7, 2020

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Johannesburg - The DA has at its policy conference moved to reject race- and gender-based socio-economic redress along with the use of any quota to achieve diversity.

The official opposition over the weekend held a two-day virtual policy conference focusing on the values and principles of the party.

The DA is expected to hold a virtual briefing today at which feedback on the discussions will be given and the policies adopted unpacked.

The party has been entangled in internal squabbles, as some of its leaders and members argued that race remained a proxy for disadvantage.

Former DA Gauteng leader John Moodey, who resigned from the party last week after 22 years, cited systematic problems in the party, saying Helen Zille was at the heart of these issues, with problematic views on race and apartheid.

In its currently adopted values and principles, the party openly rejected the use of quotas, which effectively meant the rejection of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) and affirmative action.

While former black leaders were critical of the current implementation of BBBEE and other redress policies, and called for them to be amended to benefit all South Africans and not just a few, they rejected the move by the DA to avoid recognition of race when dealing with redress.

These include former party leader Mmusi Maimane and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, who left the party after the election of Zille – considered the main brains behind the DA’s current policy direction – as the DA’s federal council chairperson last year.

In its adopted principles, the DA dismisses the notion of representivity both in terms of race and gender.

“Each individual is unique and not a racial or gender envoy, thus diversity is not demographic representivity. Individuals, when free to make their own decisions, will not be represented in any and every organisation, sector, company or level of management according to a predetermined proportion,” the party says.

The party instead points to intervention in education, good governance and reconciliation as part of its policies to tackle inequality of opportunity and effect redress.

Giving an update on the conference yesterday afternoon, Zille said the party had made little change to its principles but had fleshed them out and given them substance, adding that real policy work on economic inclusion was under way.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the party’s draft and subsequently adopted economic justice policy was in response to the current socio-economic framework of the ANC-led administration.

“It is the DA’s response to the existing socio-economic policies that have locked so many South Africans out of economic opportunities for prosperity,” he said.

While the DA has been at the receiving end of criticism by those who lampooned its economic policy outlook as too conservative and tipped in favour of maintaining the status quo, DA federal chairperson Ivan Meyer insisted that the party envisioned a society where opportunity was broadly available to all. “SA desperately needs a totally fresh approach to redress and inclusion,” he said.

Political Bureau

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