Picture: ALON SKUY
Picture: ALON SKUY

Like most media coverage of the DA’s "diversity clause", your editorial fails to grasp the core issues (Neat solution not enough, April 10). You claim there was a "messy compromise" between "two poles" in the party, leading to the adoption of the clause. This may be a slightly more sophisticated gloss on events than The Star’s alarmist pre-congress headline — "DA race war rages" — but it is no less wrong.

There was no war and there was no armistice. All delegates agreed on the desirability of a diversity clause.

What we now have entrenched in the DA’s constitution is a concept of (and commitment to) diversity that is faithful to our party’s liberal political philosophy and heritage. That is a victory for all.

The clause acknowledges individuals as the bedrock of diversity and protects them against domination by the group.

Such a safeguard is not some relic of "classical liberalism" more suited to a time of tyrannical "rule by kings and queens", as your editorial avers. It is as essential in a constitutional dispensation, where majoritarianism might be mistaken for democracy, as in a dictatorship.

Given SA’s history of group privilege and persecution, we do well to recognise that the primary unit of value in a society is the individual — individuals with rights and responsibilities to define their own identity and to pursue their own ends in a context of freedom under the rule of law.

The clause also plainly distinguishes the DA’s approach to diversity from the ANC’s bean-counting method of "demographic representivity". It therefore puts clear blue water between us and our major political opponent.

The DA’s constitution now explicitly rejects recourse to "rigid formulae" and quotas when redressing past discrimination.

That is significant. Had such a constitutional provision been in place when the DA considered the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill in 2013, it may have saved the party a great deal of trouble.

Of course, for the DA to grow it must not remain trapped in an ideological time warp or hark back to the political culture of the Progressive Party circa 1959. But we must remain faithful to our founding principles and values. These include nonracialism and the recognition of the worth of the individual.

Yes, our growth depends on becoming more of a home to black voters. But you are quite wrong to suggest that this would be more likely if the party "explicitly supported an ANC-like quota system".

Our future prospects hinge on us being an alternative to the ANC, not an alternative ANC. The diversity clause goes some small way to achieving that.

Michael Cardo
MP Via e-mail