Johannesburg - The DA has lambasted the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) after it called for several changes in the party, including the expulsion of what it called racists, and the appointment of good leaders to save the party.
The IRR launched its #SaveTheOpposition campaign on Monday, and called for the party to cut its ties with the EFF in metros and abolish race-based policies, including Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).
This comes as the battle for the soul of the DA rages, with party leader Mmusi Maimane facing an internal revolt from conservative detractors who want him removed, and which the IRR supports.
DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi described the IRR campaign as nefarious and aimed at influencing leadership contests within the party.
“The IRR has deliberately and mischievously chosen to take a hostile position against the DA and four of our public representatives in its latest salvo; this is unacceptable,” he said.
The IRR singled out and slammed DA spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme, DA Youth Federal leader Luyolo Mphithi, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen for their criticism of the IRR’s interference.
Malatsi said the DA would not “kowtow to external influence that seeks to drive factional and destructive behaviour in our organisation.”
But IRR campaigns co-ordinator Hermann Pretorius said the organisation would continue interfering in DA affairs as this was in the country’s interest.
“We are a liberal think tank and when there are developments in an organisation like the DA, which calls itself liberal, we cannot be expected not to be interested in the recent developments,” Pretorius said.
He said the DA was a party without direction or identity, and that if it remained stubborn and refused the advice of “people who believe in true liberal democracy”, it would also be a party without a future.
Following his opinion piece in which he called for Maimane’s removal and replacement by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, Pretorius and the IRR have been accused of dividing the party by meddling in its internal affairs.
Pretorius stressed that the DA was facing a leadership challenge that had to be urgently resolved.
“If anyone looks at the DA and they think nothing is lacking in its leadership, especially after the recent elections, I would say they are lying, deliberately so,” Pretorius said.