James Selfe, chair of the DA federal executive, has warned his party’s members not to become embroiled in “senseless and peripheral” public disputes, but to focus on the elections instead.

The party will launch its manifesto at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday  ahead of the national and provincial elections on May 8.

This week Selfe sent out a letter to all DA structures emphasising the importance of the elections, which he touted as the most important since 1994.

In the letter seen by Business Day, Selfe called on party members to remain focused and disciplined. He steered clear of naming the culprits.  

The DA has set ambitious targets for itself in the elections as it hopes to push the ANC below the majority of the support in Gauteng and in the Northern Cape. It also hopes to grow its support in the Western Cape, the only province it governs.

The party has been facing an uphill battle over the past year with its leaders publicly taking each other to task on a number of issues. There was a public tiff about the party’s stance on broad-based BEE, among others. 

Most recently the party’s former leader Helen Zille again landed in hot water by calling for a tax revolt, causing a huge outcry, even among  DA members.

“In the past period, there have been people who have, publicly or through social media, become embroiled in senseless and peripheral disputes, which have been very damaging to the party and to the cause we are fighting for,” Selfe wrote.

“The electorate expect us to do their work, not engage in internal wrangling,” he added.

Selfe made it clear that the DA’s election focus is on creating a professional police service, fair access to jobs, prosecuting those responsible for corruption, securing SA’s borders and dramatically improving service delivery.

He said this can be achieved, because “where we govern, we govern well”.

“If you are not talking about these things and relating them to the issues voters face on a daily basis, you are probably not contributing to our campaign. Indeed you may be damaging it,” Selfe said.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the letter was sent to the DA general membership so that “we can all focus on the important task of the elections”.

He said the letter came out of a discussion at the party’s federal council that dealt with refocusing energies and resources on the election campaign.