DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SOWETAN
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SOWETAN

Douglas Gibson (“DA Aims to Tackle Poverty”, February 19) writes that “to state that the DA has chosen to settle on race as a proxy for disadvantage is to misunderstand the DA position”.

However, on February 10 DA leader Mmusi Maimane said, “we believe race is a proxy for disadvantage and an accurate reflection of who is still excluded from opportunity. The party has not decided to move away from race-based redress policies.”

Gibson, however, says it is “not the proxy [of race] that is the focus [of DA redress policy]” but rather the “socio-economic deprivation that is such a feature of our society”. Gibson is the former chief whip of the DA and is not employed to speak for the party or represent its views on policy. So we are left with what Maimane has said, and Maimane contradicts himself.

For example, his February 10 statement on “not [moving] away from race-based policy” completely contradicts that of February 2018 when he said: “We need a wholesale change in empowerment policies, to move away from race-based policies….”

DA statements, speeches and interviews are littered with this same contradiction. This should not be possible as the use of race as the basis of policy is a matter of principle.

The liberal position is that actual socio-economic disadvantage should determine the beneficiaries of empowerment policy. The racial nationalist position is that race should determine beneficiaries.

Under the liberal position, the great majority of beneficiaries will be black, not because they are black but because they are poor. It is a subtle but profoundly important distinction that separates liberals from racial nationalists.

Faced with that choice, the DA chose to bind itself to an idea that it will now be subservient to, and without recourse — for its measure is a pencil, not any quantifiable gauge of disadvantage or the lack of opportunity.              

Frans Cronje
CEO, Institute of Race Relations