South Africa: To Split or Not to Split - the DA's (And the ANC's) Dilemma


Developments over the weekend highlighted tensions in the DA, which could split up before the ANC.

The possible re-entrance of Helen Zille into a DA leadership position will be interpreted by many as undermining of the party's leader, Mmusi Maimane, and will fan speculation that the DA is about to split. At the same time, there is the perennial question of whether tensions within the ANC are so high that fracture in that party is also on the cards. But it would be foolish to underestimate the dynamics that keep these two parties together and could keep them intact for some time.

Zille's decision to contest the position of federal chair in the DA is likely to be seen by many voters as a pointed challenge to the leadership of Maimane. She herself has spoken about principle and requests from DA members for her to make herself available, but voters may not see it like that. Instead, it will be painted, by the ANC and many others, as if the older white woman has to come back to "rescue" the party from the younger black man.

The DA, like many other organisations, finds racial dynamics difficult to deal with. One...

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