The DA policy conference has adopted the principle of “non-racialism”.
The party’s long-awaited virtual policy conference started on Saturday morning, with the day dedicated to its values and principles.
The conference started at around 08:00. Shortly after 11:00, the party announced it had adopted non-racialism.
According to the party, this would entail the following:
Non-racialism is the rejection of race as a way to categorise and treat people, particularly in legislation.
The assumption that one’s “race” represents people who think, feel, or have the same experience of shared events based on their physical appearance, is false.
However, while there is a scientific consensus that “race” itself does not exist, racialism and racism do exist and have a profound and damaging impact on the lives of individuals and society. They are abhorrent and detestable.
A great deal of harm was caused, and continues to be caused, on the basis of false beliefs in racial difference.
Social groups based on cultural, religious, political and linguistic factors do exist. However, people who identify with each other on this basis should not be squeezed into narrow racial boxes inherited from our segregated past.
Non-racialism is, therefore, a commitment, not just to reject racialism and racism, but to fight for the deconstruction of race and the reconstruction of a non-racial future. The DA unequivocally stands for non-racialism, not multiracialism.
How the party dealt with race has been an ideological battleground in the party. The adoption of this principle can be seen as a victory for the grouping in the party calling themselves “classic liberals”.
It is believed that this group generally supports the candidature of current interim leader John Steenhuisen to lead the party after its elective conference in October.
The other candidate is former national DA youth leader and KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli.
The conference also adopted the principle of a social market economy.
According to the DA’s draft values and principles document, published in February, a social market economy entails the following:
A social market economy refers to an economy in which participants (firms and consumers) rather than the government decide on what to purchase, where to invest and how much to produce.
Ownership of risk by private participants in a market economy means a right and a duty to own both the rewards and responsibilities of success or failure.
A social market economy, however, is not one where there is no government intervention at all. Left entirely on their own, participants who enjoy market dominance can engage in behaviour which keeps out smaller participants and competition. Alternatively, participants can collude and fix prices with one another, to the detriment of the consumer.
Governments have an important role to play in improving access to markets by championing open and competitive markets, because openness and competition is not inherently the natural state of affairs.
There are some functions and services that governments can potentially perform better than markets, or to supplement markets. This is particularly the case in contexts where markets cannot function profitably, but for which there is a strong public interest.
Governments in such an economy have a role to play in enhancing equality of opportunity and providing strong safety nets and trampolines for the most vulnerable.
Markets only function optimally in a context where a capable and corruption-free state provides basic services and upholds independent institutions that defend the rule of law and a culture of accountability.
The DA will defend and advocate for a market economy, as well as the principles that underpin it: competition, innovation and initiative.
The conference’s about 200 participants also adopted the principle of the separation of state and party, separation of powers, federalism, and constitutionalism, as well as the rule of law unanimously.
These were longstanding principles of the DA, and hardly the source of disagreement in the party.
The conference follows another stormy week in the party. John Moodey, former Gauteng DA leader and candidate to lead the party, announced he was leaving the DA, amid claims and counterclaims of Machiavellian machinations.
The policy conference will conclude on Sunday.