DA interim leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: @jsteenhuisen/Twitter

Johannesburg - New DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has indicated that under his leadership, the party will have to change its policy positions on redress, as well as on how it has been exercising its role as an opposition to the ANC under former leader Mmusi Maimane.

On Sunday, Steenhuisen won the contest for the top post in the DA, beating Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana.

Steenhuisen effectively replaced Maimane, who resigned under duress last month after the party's review panel urged him to step down as leader.

Maimane had accused the DA of being infested with people who were deliberately working to ensure his vision for the party was frustrated, including policies of redress.

Current federal council chairperson Helen Zille, whose election into the post last month saw Joburg mayor and Maimane's ally, Herman Mashaba, terminate his membership with the party, is among those who were openly opposed to the direction the DA took under Maimane.

In what could be seen as a clear swipe at Maimane's leadership, Steenhuisen, who was elected at the party's Federal Council special meeting in Bruma, Joburg, said the party would now have to be clear on what it actually stands for.

“It is very important that we set out our story. We set out clearly who we are, what we are about and what we are fighting for.

“No more blue wobbly jelly at the centre of politics. We need to be firm and unwavering about the principles that our party stands for,” he said.

Previously Maimane was known to be a vocal critic of the ANC as part of the DA’s political campaigning strategy.

But Steenhuisen said the party under his leadership would have to cease being constantly on the ANC’s case.

“The days of this tit-for-tat banking on how bad the ANC and how bad things are under the ANC have to come to an end.

“We have a duty to hold the ANC accountable where we are an opposition but I think we also have a duty to set out very clearly not how bad things are under the ANC, but how great things can be under the DA.”

He highlighted that while the DA believed the legacy of apartheid had to be corrected, politics of race had to be removed. “We don’t need to resort to crude racial classification to do so. We can target redress policies directly where they need to be, at the poorest in our society, almost all of whom happens to be black South Africans,” he said.

The party’s review panel called for the revival of the party’s coalition, making special reference to the DA collaboration with the EFF in Johannesburg. Steenhuisen explained that while he believed that coalition governments were the future of local politics, the party had to protect its brand and be selective of which parties it joined forces with.

He stressed that he at no point did he back-stab Maimane as his former chief whip, saying he had served him with loyalty as he led the party. Meanwhile, Western Cape agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer was elected as the new interim federal chairperson to replace Athol Trollip who resigned in solidarity with Maimane.

Political Bureau