In response to a post by Andrew at Southern Cross: I’ve also noticed a harsh anti-DA sentiment amongst white South Africans and a leaning towards the Independent Democrats and have a couple of thoughts on the reasons for this.
The DA does have well-thought out and comprehensive policies, but why don’t they make a BIG deal about this? Why is it that whenever we see the face of the DA, it’s the face of Leon attacking the government? I agree that there is a very necessary role as a ‘watchdog’ to the government, but this should be complemented by a constant offering of the alternatives they advocate. I also think that Tony Leon draws too much attention to himself, rather than the party or its politics. Perhaps it is just because of his ‘Westminster’ style of politics, but people are getting tired of it. What to people think of when they think of the DA other than Tony Leon? How many people actually know who Joe Seremane is? Unfortunately, Andrew, the vast majority of voters fail to analyse party policies but vote instead on what the posters say, who said the least stupid things (see above) and who they perceive to represent their cultural group.
Andrew’s scapegoat theory is plausible, but I think there is another subtle reason for the dislike of Leon amongst young white South Africans. He represents all that it means to be a ‘liberal white’ in South Africa; a category into which many of us would have fallen pre- and post-1994. There is a lot of unrecognised ‘white guilt’ associated with this position; they/we are the people who would protest against apartheid and racism, but never really do anything meaningful about it. To me, the position of the white liberal is associated with apathy. Tony Leon does not do enough to firstly admit that white guilt exists, and secondly, show how whites can deal with their complex role in South Africa’s history. The DA advocates policies that are not honest about the social history of our country and seem too distant from the messy daily realities that many people face. It is just not enough to consider ourselves a happy, non-racial democracy and to get on with the what works ‘best in the West’.
Thus us left-leaning, former-liberal whities are forced to seek alternatives. I think a lot of people would like to support the ANC, but feel (justifiably) uneasy about the danger and complacency caused by too much power. Or they just can’t abide Mbeki’s stance on AIDS and Zimbabwe. The next best centre-left not-yet-racially-aligned party would seem to be de Lille’s Independent Democrats. She is an established ‘people’s champion’ and is vociferous on a number of topical issues. The party is new and no one has had time to offend the electorate or say anything stupid. So I checked out their website…
…and was very disappointed. They do nothing to allay the suspicions that ID is a one-woman show. The only place on the whole site where anyone other than de Lille is mentioned is on the candidate lists, and even there only a couple of names ring a bell. The policies generally look good, but lack substance and numbers. More irritating is the fact that they don’t answer the questions posed to them on the digital forum (perhaps de Lille is too busy). It is a pity, but it is still early days, and if de Lille gets some good support at the polls (and I suspect she will) then people will sit up and take notice. Then perhaps she can attract some top quality people to give her the institutional support that she needs. We’ll have to wait and see.