Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen has been elected by the DA's federal council as DA interim leader, the party said.

Johannesburg - Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen has been elected by the DA's federal council as DA interim leader, the party said on Sunday.

The DA will elect a new leader at its federal congress scheduled for 2020.

Speaking after his election, Steenhuisen called on members to rebuild the party. The DA was not in a fight over ideology or a fight for power. "Our fight is to push back against the tide of poverty that has engulfed the lives of so many men, women, and children in our country.

"Our fight is for the prosperity and the dignity of millions of South Africans who are still waiting for their freedom. I know that the DA has both the people and the ideas to win this fight. That’s why it is critical that we waste no time in turning our setback into a comeback," he said.

Steenhuisen pledged to "shoot straight". "I will not have different conversations with different people. My views will be consistent, and you will always know where you stand. My door will be open to you at all times. We are colleagues and we are public servants. We are not a party of leader worship and deferential titles. The DA is about big principles, not big personalities."

The DA believed that the legacy of apartheid had to be corrected through targeted redress. Apartheid was a brutal and unjust system that continued to haunt the lives of millions of South Africans 25 years after it came to an end. Those who still suffered the effects of past discrimination needed to benefit from redress.

"But we don’t need to resort to crude race classification to do so. We can target redress policies directly at the poorest in our society, almost all of whom are black. The fact is, 25 years of race-based redress policies have made things far worse for the poor and the unemployed. Redress must actually improve the lives of poor South Africans, rather than just enrich the elite. It is spurious to argue that only race-based policies can lift people out of poverty. That is a false choice."

The DA would be a party marked by generosity, empathy, and deep commitment to fighting poverty. A party that saw every person for their true worth and limitless potential, not just as a demographic statistic, Steenhuisen said.

African News Agency (ANA)