The DA's Francois Rodgers celebrates with DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango when he was elected at the party’s provincial congress. Picture: ANA Archives
The DA's Francois Rodgers celebrates with DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango when he was elected at the party’s provincial congress. Picture: ANA Archives

Focus on the DA: Is the party's KZN caucus diverse enough?

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published May 15, 2019

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Durban - A former leader of the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal says the party is taking too many white leaders to the KZN Legislature. 

In the recent polls, the DA received just over 500 000 votes in KZN, which translates to 11 seats at the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg.

The DA will take two black African leaders, four Indian and five white leaders to the legislature. Of the 11, three are women. The black representation is down by two members, while the white representation has increased by three. 

Although the party support increased slightly in terms of votes, from 489 430 in 2014 to 500 051 in the recent polls, the IFP dislodged the DA as the official opposition in the province.

The DA had become the official opposition in KZN for the first time after the 2014 general and provincial elections.

Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni said the DA found itself in a conundrum as the issue of ‘diversity’ was one the party appeared to still be at pains about.  

“Because the DA wants to stick mechanically to the selection process, it then doesn't make political interventions to achieve diversity. And it can’t make that intervention because the DA has not settled what diversity means, politically,” he said.

Former DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu, who joined the ANC just before the elections, said the party had reversed its diversity gains. He said under his tenure he took two white MPLs to the provincial legislature, compared to the five white leaders the current DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango will be taking.

“We moved the black members from having one to three members... That very same number moved from one member to four for Indian members. What he has done, he has retained the number four for Indian representation. When it comes to the white members we had two… He has grown that number to five, he has decreased black representatives and tripled the number of white representatives. Those are the records that are there,” he said.

But Mncwango shot back at Mchunu and said he was the last person to voice discontent about the DA KZN’s list as he apparently tried to block several black African leaders in the party from being included.

DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango said he was excited the party had grown in the rural areas, amassing more than 200 000 votes in the 2019 general and provincial elections. He was speaking at the IEC's elections operations centre in Mayville, Durban. Video: Sihle Mlambo

Mncwango said Mchunu was “irrelevant” and “bitter”, and said the DA did not subscribe to quotas, but aimed for diversity in all its structures.

The DA KZN’s list reads as follows:

  1. Zwakele Mncwango - black African, male

  2. Mbali Ntuli - black African, female

  3. Timothy James Brauteseth (will be joining the National Council of Provinces, appeared on No. 3 in DA KZN list)

  4. Rishigen Viranna - Indian, female

  5. Francois Rodgers - white, male

  6. Imran Keeka - Indian, male

  7. Christopher Pappas - white, male

  8. Heinz De Boer - white, male

  9. Sharon Hoosen - Indian, female

  10. Elma Rabe - white, female

  11. Lukas Meyer - white, male

  12. Bradley Singh - Indian, male

“We don’t have a quota system but we strive for diversity because it is part of our values. But you can’t say it must be 50/50, that is not our stand, that is an ANC policy. Ours is to strive for diversity in everything that we do,” said Mncwango.

“Our constitution talks about sufficiently diverse lists. Sizwe is the last person to make an argument because in a meeting when I argued about diversity in the list, he was against us promoting black people onto the list, which is why I can’t take anything he says seriously,” said Mncwango.

“In fact, throughout his time, he was against diversity in the organisation. He is the last person to comment about a list that is not diverse,” he said.

Mncwango said all parties should be subjected to the same scrutiny when it came to the politics of representation.

“Another mistake you make is you expect the DA to have 50/50, but I will ask you a question, are you asking the same question to the ANC, to the EFF, and the IFP. If we are true to diversity, in terms of gender and race, those questions should apply to all the parties,” he said.

The DA member of the National Council of Provinces, MP Vusimuzi Magwebu, left, DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango and the party’s spokesperson on rural development and land reform, MP Ken Robertson. Picture: Tumi Pakkies / ANA

Mncwango said despite being a black African leader in the DA, he was fighting not only for people who looked like him, but for justice and the country at large.

“Having a black leader does not mean when you lead you are here to fight for your race only, we fight for justice and our country, not for a particular race,” he said.

Mnguni said an analysis of the DA’s top 30 names on the KZN list showed significant diversity, with young black people being considered for deployment, but the composition of the top 10 was ‘disappointing', he said.

“That composition is very disappointing, it means true diversity in the DA is left for the tail enders. If you look at the DA further down you will find there is good diversity, but at the top echelons, you find this imbalance of diversity,” said Mnguni.

Mnguni said the idea of having an unaided diverse leadership core was not possible.

“Those who seem to have won the day are those who think diversity can metermophis into existence on its own without being assisted by way of various political intervention, and that is not true. An organisation that is reluctant to elect women into top structures, has to intervene to make sure women are elected. Likewise, an organisation that has an inclination to elect people who are not black, must intervene,” he said.

Mnguni said it was the duty of black leaders to push for real diversity in the party. He said it was for this reason, that Mncwango was not pleased about the composition of the DA’s eThewkini caucus when he moved to the legislature.

“Otherwise there would not have been a problem in eThekwini when Zwakele Mncwango was uneasy about the composition of the caucus leadership - even now he should be worried about the composition,” he said.

Mnguni further added that the party had been celebrating its results in KZN under the banner of growth in the rural and township areas.

“If it has grown in those areas, do those people see themselves reflected in the people they have helped acquire seats in the legislature of KZN,” he said.

The DA, like the ANC, could ‘mechanically engineer’ diversity, said Mnguni referencing how the ANC amends its elective outcomes to force gender parity in the party’s biggest decision making body.

“Within the ANC there is a pressure group that is making that pressure possible, where as in the DA that pressure group is missing,” he said.

Mncwango later added that he was personally not happy about the composition, but said he was committed to fighting for South Africans of all races, justice and ‘sufficient diversity’.

“Am I happy with the diversity of our list? I would say I would like to see more diversity in the list, but I am not arguing about quotas. But as a leader, I am concerned about whether the list if it is sufficiently diverse, understanding the demographics of the province. I am not here to fight for one race, it doesn’t matter which race is in the majority in the list, as long as the list is sufficiently diverse,” he said.

Sunday Tribune

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