Gauteng leader John Moodey’s opposition to a draft DA policy document that advocates for the party to reject race as a means of categorising people was one of the main reasons he decided to stand for the party’s top job.

He said he put up his hand to lead the DA because he did not want to see the DA “go down the tubes”. 

Moodey said the document, released by the party’s policy chief Gwen Ngwenya, did not align with the DA’s constitution and its principles and values.

“There’s a mismatch there and it makes me very fearful. And for that reason I said I will stand. I won’t allow this party that I belong to to go down the tubes,” Moodey said in an interview after his campaign launch on Monday.

The draft policy document released by Ngwenya says “the DA unequivocally stands for nonracialism, not multi-racialism”. 

Nonracialism is defined in the document as the rejection of race as a way to categorise people, particularly in legislation.

The DA provincial leader said he did not believe in watering down the core principles he believed in. He said the DA was a diverse party and SA was a diverse country.

“Unless we deal and face on truthfully, brutally, openly the issues that face us as SA society, we are not going to get it right. And it has to start off within the party,” Moodey said.

He launched his campaign on Monday, becoming the third senior party member to throw his hat in the ring to lead SA’s official opposition party.

Interim party leader John Steenhuisen and KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli have both launched their campaigns in the past two weeks.

While all three candidates have put forward a plan for fixing the economy, the candidates’ stance on race and redress is set to be a big issue in their leadership campaigns.

The DA has grappled with its ideological stance in recent years. A policy conference in April and the national congress in May are expected to set the tone and direction of the opposition party a little more than a year before the local government elections in 2021.  

Moodey said the issue of race should not be glossed over, but at the same time cannot be the only proxy for disadvantage.

Moodey said redress should be accompanied by the growth of SA’s economy, as this would then create more opportunities for all.

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