Editorials 17.5.2018 08:47 am

The DA had better correct course, and fast

DA leader Mmusi Maimane addresses the crowds during the opening ceremony of the Democratic Alliance's Federal Congress held at the Thwane Events Center, 7 April 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

DA leader Mmusi Maimane addresses the crowds during the opening ceremony of the Democratic Alliance's Federal Congress held at the Thwane Events Center, 7 April 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

SA will always need strong opposition, but that’s hardly what you’d call the official opposition right now.

It hasn’t been a good week for the Democratic Alliance (DA): it suffered a double whammy when Patricia de Lille won temporary reinstatement as mayor of Cape Town and then it lost a no-confidence motion against Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

While the De Lille victory may be short-lived for her – if a court agrees with the DA that it was correct to cancel her membership in the party and remove her as head of the city – the Makhura defeat is permanent.

And, more than that, it is a setback for the party.

While it is not up for debate that the role of an opposition party is to make the ruling ANC work for its living as a government and ensure government treats its citizens fairly, there is a question about the timing of the attack on Makhura. The no-confidence motion came in the middle of the De Lille fight – which is one of the messiest in the history of the DA – but also at a time when party leader Mmusi Maimane was, apparently, facing a revolt from conservative DA members, who objected to his opinion that “white privilege” is a reality.

In pursuing the motion – which centred on the ANC administration’s heartless performance in the Life Esidimeni tragedy – the DA left itself open to accusations that it was trying to make political capital out of the suffering of people … or that it was trying to divert attention from its own problems.

The party looks almost rudderless – alienating conservative white voters at the same time that it is undoubtedly losing black middle-class supporters who are gravitating back towards a rejuvenated, corruption-fighting ANC.

We believe the DA needs to take a long hard look at itself and what it is offering to the people of South Africa.