Identity is more than race

FILE PICTURE: Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Michel Bega

FILE PICTURE: Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Michel Bega

While it is very clear that our racial past still plays itself out in the public discourse in South Africa, what must be said from the outset is that the recent contest between Jack Bloom and myself is broader than just a race issue; it’s about the principals of fit for purpose and the election campaign in Gauteng.

The 2014 national elections are indeed on the margin and will be dependent on young voters who enter the voters roll for the first time. These South Africans will determine the election and rightfully so as it is about their future. What the body politic of South Africa and Gauteng is gearing up for, is a seismic and historic shift in South African politics. New political players have come on board, namely Agang and EFF, but also new leaders from various backgrounds will contest within this political space. What South Africa needs is a new direction in leadership that is built on values of delivery and competency. We need new innovative ideas about challenges of yesterday and today.

Leadership is getting younger and this in itself is a strength. Barack Obama and David Cameron are global leaders who represent a youthful view to politics. Our politics needs these new leaders. Our history dictates that for an organisation to move forward they require new energy; this is exemplified by Nelson Mandela in the 1969’s where against establishment, he chartered a new way against his elder leadership.

We have arrived at a point in this country where new leadership is required. Leadership which is not radical in its extreme but that is well-argued, engages properly with the voters which have placed their trust in them, and brings strong and proactive decisions to the table.

I feel it necessary to affirm, that in this campaign, I have in no way ever wanted to be nominated for race purposes. Our elections are free and fair, and based on fit for purpose.

In the very simplest terms, the DA is the most diverse party in the country. It is then to be expected that leadership contests are going to be from leaders from different races, it does not conclude that it is a race war. It’s about growth and diversity. Leaders are chosen from a variety of South Africans who bring many diverse skills and experiences to the table.

The team we will appoint next year if the DA is given the chance to build a government in Gauteng, will be a diverse in every aspect. The task ahead for the DA is indeed to charter a non-racial society and to continue to affirm that race is not a proxy for benefit. It is about inclusivity of all South African and chartering a way for the benefit of South Africa as a whole.

Maimane is the national spokesperson for the DA and a candidate for the premiership of Gauteng.


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