Shanti Aboobaker

THE DA Federal Congress in Boksburg this weekend will be a critical indication of how far the party is willing to go to align itself with the majority in South Africa, pundits said yesterday.

The party’s top job – held by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille – will go uncontested, leaving as the big prize the position of federal chairperson, which is to be contested by MP and former academic Wilmot James and the Masizole Mnqasela.

Political analyst Steven Friedman said that in the greater scheme of things having one person up against another was not particularly interesting – but the contention of Mnqasela that the DA needed to do more than put black faces in top leadership positions was.

“The real issue in the DA is how much the DA is willing to align themselves with the majority of South Africans,” Friedman said.

There would be another split in the ruling ANC long before the DA would ever win a national election, he said, explicitly ruling out the possibility that the opposition party could win even the 2019 elections.

“The ANC will split again and the DA will have a potential merger partner. But its ability to play a role and form a coalition to be effective – that will be the focus of the next few years,” Friedman predicted.

He said Mnqasela’s contention that parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko “speaks like white folks from Joburg’s Northern Suburbs” and would not appeal to the black and poor majority, was not without substance.

The DA had “a long way to go” despite having more prominent black members, he said.

Kicking off on Saturday morning at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, the congress will bring together 1 650 delegates from across the country. Voting is to take place early on Sunday morning, with a view to releasing results before the end of the conference in the afternoon.