DA interim leader John Steenhuisen discussed the challenges facing the official opposition party during a campaign visit to Pietermaritzburg. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen discussed the challenges facing the official opposition party during a campaign visit to Pietermaritzburg. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Steenhuisen blames inconsistency for DA’s poor showing

By BONGANI HANS Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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Durban - For the DA to perform better during next year’s local government elections, it will have to get rid of members who contradict party policies and create inconsistency, according to party interim leader John Steenhuisen.

Steenhuisen was in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday to campaign for Ward 25 by-elections that are to take place in a week’s time, on March 18.

However, as he was addressing elderly people at the Woodgrove Retirement Village, Steenhuisen used the platform to highlight what the opposition party needed to do before the elections.

He said the DA no longer tolerated members who did not share the values and principles of the party, adding that such people would be “cut out of the organisation before they infect the rest of it”.

The former Parliamentary chief whip said with the local government elections approaching, the party should fight to be better than it was last year. “That requires ideological coherence, as no organisation can exist without full ideological coherence.

“This means that everybody in the party should be pulling in the same direction.”

Steenhuisen said the party performed dismally during last year’s general elections because it had tried to please too many people, but ended up pleasing very few.

He said he was confident that after next year’s local government poll, the DA would govern a number of municipalities, including eThekwini and Msunduzi, through coalitions, because he would change the campaign strategy.

Steenhuisen said that after he was elected leader during next month’s elective national conference, the party would not allow policy inconsistency to persist.

He commended a panel - comprising former DA leader Tony Leon, Ryan Coetzee, the party’s former chief executive officer, and Michiel le Roux, founder of Capitec Bank - for coming up with a diagnostic report that revealed some of the party’s weaknesses, which ultimately cost it many votes.

The panel has done an excellent diagnosis of where we went wrong, and what we did was to try to be too many things to too many people,” Steenhuisen said.

It was believed that last year’s election result and the panel’s report were among the reasons Mmusi Maimane resigned from the DA.

Steenhuisen said that unlike the DA, the EFF and Freedom Front Plus performed well because their positions were clear to everyone.

“They are on the extreme left and the extreme right of the South African spectrum, and both of those parties did one thing in common. When you look at their posters, you knew exactly what they were fighting for, and exactly what their message was,” he said.

He said the DA remained in the middle with “five different posters” whose messages confused most voters.

“People looked at the DA and did not know what the DA stood for,” Steenhuisen said.

Political Bureau

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