South Africa: DA Leadership - the Party Under Steenhuisen Must Now Face Up to Race, Redress and Electoral Mishaps

The Democratic Alliance leadership at a media briefing after the election of John Steenhuisen, second left, as interim leader.
analysis

DA parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen's election as DA interim leader is raising questions about black leadership, race and redress. And while Steenhuisen didn't mince his words -- 'Race matters' -- only time will tell if he's got backing among the DA's liberal factions.

Newly elected DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, who's made no bones about the interim leader's post being a pit stop before contesting the leadership position in early 2020, has five months to persuade the DA not only how to deal with race and redress, but also how to reposition itself away from "banging [on] about how bad things are under the ANC" and in establishing the party in communities to regain trust and electoral support.

His vision? "No more blue jelly in the middle".

It's ambitious. But Steenhuisen, it has been reliably learnt, received 75% of the vote at Sunday's DA Federal Council, its highest decision-making structure between national congresses. And that, at least for now, has smoothed the road to the April 2020 policy conference, followed by the national elective DA congress in May 2020.

Steenhuisen won against Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana, who publicly congratulated him:

"We now go back to the branches. The journey continues,"...

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