James Selfe. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
James Selfe. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

In your editorial prompted by James Selfe’s resignation as chair of the DA’s federal executive, you say: “Whether Selfe’s resignation will prove to be the silver bullet to put the DA on a different trajectory remains to be seen.” (“End of an Era for the DA”, June 11).

Obviously, what contribution he will make to the future of the party, if any, will depend on the role he is given from this point on. But I have no doubt that, given the chance, he has a major contribution to make.

When analysed, what the DA’s dismal performance in the recent election points to is that it must go back to its roots when, following the 1987 general election, the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) linked up with the newly formed Independent Party to establish the Democratic Party under the leadership of Zach de Beer, Wynand Malan and myself. Selfe is the only person I can think of who is still in politics and knows just what happened then.

The PFP was on the skids. It had moved too far left for the electorate. It needed to get back to the middle ground which, as the Democratic Party, it had achieved by the 1989 election, when then president FW de Klerk would be forced to look to the Democratic Party for support. In fact, it made possible a majority in favour of continued reform in the critical referendum of March 17 1992, and for De Klerk’s seminal speech of February 1990.

Selfe is the best counsellor the DA could have in this regard. As far as policy is concerned, and what the majority of South Africans want, the DA should look for guidance to the Institute of Race Relations’ most recent survey: “Reasons for Hope: Uniting the Middle.” And for strategy and tactical steps it should invite RW Johnson to be a consultant, or just adopt as a manual his book, Fighting For The Dream.

Denis Worrall
Author of ‘The Independent Factor’