A country with a heritage as diverse as ours needs a plan that serves all its people
Date: 24 September 2020
As our country pauses today to celebrate Heritage Day, we are reminded once more of just how diverse and colourful our nation is. We don’t share a single heritage, nor even a common idea of what heritage means. Today South Africans will be celebrating in a thousand different ways. Some of it will be serious and reflective, and some of it will be light-hearted and fun.
And that’s fine. This diversity of approach to Heritage Day reflects the diversity of our country. We truly are a melting pot of people, cultures and ideas. But that doesn’t mean we must live our lives separately, divided from one another by these demographic features. Our future is still one, united South Africa, and our only way of achieving a prosperous future for all is by pooling our resources and ideas.
Only one party in South Africa can offer such a truly rich diversity of ideas and that’s the DA. Across all levels of our structures and governments, our party, more than any other, personifies the rainbow nation. And this is because we were brought together not by a race or a language or a religion, but by a set of common values and a shared belief in what it will take to fix our country.
It is from this diverse pool of DA people that our newly adopted policies and principles were born. And because our party is not driven by a specific racial or ethnic nationalism, we were able to put the needs of South Africans at the front and centre of our policy offer. The most diverse party embarked on the most diverse approach to writing policy, and the result is a set of policies that truly cater for all South Africans.
No other major party can say that. When they all speak of “our people”, the understanding is clear that there is an “us” and a “them”. But when the DA speaks of our people, it simply means South Africans. And when we write, debate and adopt our policies, we emerge with a complex plan that serves each and every citizen.
This is also why we adopted non-racialism as a guiding principle for the party. It is not only possible, but entirely necessary to fix our country’s unjust past by focusing on the devastating effects of this past, rather than creating further divides between us.
The way this debate has raged in recent weeks, it is hard to imagine that there was a time not so long ago when non-racialism was considered a noble principle by all – one that just about every South African claimed to aspire to. And this includes the members of the ruling alliance. But how times have changed.
Supporting the idea that we are so much more than products of our skin colour should not be a controversial position, and I know that sanity will eventually prevail and many of those who now try to paint non-racialism as some kind of radical idea will eventually come full circle.
Until then, the DA will not waver in our principles. The days of this party blowing with the prevailing winds are done. We are not a weathervane. We are a fixed signpost for people to follow. And one of the foundations that solidly moors this signpost is the idea that a non-racial society, where people are judged by the content of their character, is the only one worth fighting for.
This is why there is a new energy flowing through the DA at the moment. The party is genuinely enthused by the outcome of our recent policy conference, and we are looking forward to our virtual Federal Congress at the end of next month. Because the real work starts then, as we prepare to take our offer to the people of South Africa in the build up to next year’s local government election. We know our offer is good one.
Statement issued by John Steenhuisen - Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 24 September 2020