South Africa: Realigning the DA - Obstacles Aplenty Are Strewn On John Steenhuisen's Path

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

There can be no doubting John Steenhuisen's intellect and his ability to debate. He is quick on his feet and never at a loss for words. But the cleverest people do not always make the best politicians.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) faces serious problems that could cause an irreparable rupture in the party. Many of these problems are to do with South Africa's main issue - race - and the inequality that comes with it. Bluntly put, the DA both wants to retain the voters from minority groups that it has, and to appeal to the much larger bloc of black voters. Pulling this off will be a herculean task for the party's newly elected interim leader, John Steenhuisen.

There can be no doubting the natural, almost boundless confidence that Steenhuisen possesses. A politician needs confidence. It takes confidence to stand up in the National Assembly, just after the EFF has been thrown out violently, and demand of the speaker, "What was that... who were those men?", as Steenhuisen did.

It also takes confidence, as a white person in South Africa, to stand up and ask black people to vote for you.

Race is the defining issue in our society...

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