DA members seen at the party's manifesto launch in Johannesburg. Picture: GENEVIEVE QUINTAL
DA members seen at the party's manifesto launch in Johannesburg. Picture: GENEVIEVE QUINTAL

The reality of the DA’s emasculated position across the metropolitan councils it formerly controlled is that it is a consequence of the party’s many mistakes and lost opportunities over the past five or six years.

The situation is serious and may even be dire for the party. But it is not irreversible or terminal, provided the new leadership ignores naysayers and takes necessary steps to realign the party’s principles, policies, direction and political actions in parliament, legislatures, councils and on the streets.

How DA public representatives at all levels act and respond at such a testing time will be key, and instructive. Many individuals will have lost well-paid executive and other municipal posts. They will be frustrated and angry, especially at DA colleagues who betrayed them and voted with the ANC.

Not for the first time the measure of the party will be seen in the mettle of its leadership, individuals and caucuses, and how they conduct themselves through the storms and buffeting headwinds. Not for the first time it will require men and woman of extraordinary courage and fortitude, able to work together and prove the critics wrong.

I believe that it will be done. The DA is the embodiment of all of its earlier political parties and movements, which never looked for soft landings or easy options. Colin Eglin called it the “politics of the long haul”. Great British liberal prime minister William Gladstone said of liberalism that “you cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side.”

Gladstone and Eglin were correct. If the DA stays the course of liberal democracy and embraces the observations of two statesmen — who lived half a world and a century apart — then the future of the DA and SA will look a great deal better and brighter.

Mark Lowe

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an e-mail with your comments. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Send your letter by e-mail to busday@bdfm.co.za. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.