Peter Bruce Columnist


DA MP Gwen Ngwenya’s resignation as the party’s head of policy has triggered spirited debate about whether her departure is a good thing or not. The kind people of the centre-left say good riddance because she was “anti-transformation”. Her defenders, I suppose a bit like me (all over the place), ask what is so unreasonable about looking for progressive economic policies that grow the market without being based on race?

I assume that is what she was trying to do. In August 2018 she wrote a piece for Business Day arguing that, as she says in her resignation letter to DA leader Mmusi Maimane, “BEE had not lived up to expectations and that the DA was exploring a policy alternative. None of that was not true. At the federal council in July I had been given a mandate to explore a nonracial alternative. “Furthermore, I quoted [Maimane] saying, ‘We need a wholesale change in empowerment policies, to move away from race-based policies that enable elite enrichment, towards policies that fundamentally break down the system of deprivation that still traps millions of South Africans in poverty’.” The article led to a row. Many black DA members who have to sell the party during campaigning predictably didn’t like it. The DA is trying to build its black vote. It must make black promises. Ngwenya didn’t want to and she and DA federal executive chair James Selfe issued a statement on August 6. “We have always said...

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