Dear Mr. Maimane,
Re: South Africa needs a Transformed Opposition:
On the eve of this historic moment in the history of South African Opposition Politics, I have thought it right to implore to give due consideration for the moment we stand in. It is historic to have a Dr. Wilmot James and Mr. Mmusi Maimane as the two contenders for the DA leadership in this season. All South Africans must acknowledge that this is significant in the evolution of our democratic narrative.
Our Democracy warrants an opposition party not an oppositional party, as we have witnessed throughout the period of 21 years of our political freedom.
The DA with this moment that will transpire in 24 Hours is at it its proverbial Rubicon, it can either stand still, which translates to going back to 1948 or move forward to the realisation of the promise of April, 27 1994.
I am of the firm belief that the standing still or going forward is not a “black” number issue. Rather it is an ideological shift needed within the liberal project of South Africa for the next stage of continuing the work we started since April 27, 1994. Race is neither the subject, nor the point in our non-racial future; we cannot afford to make it the epicentre of this moment in opposition politics.
South Africa needs a transformed DA, it does not merely need a “black” face, as we attempted in a history of Tri- Cameral parliament of 1983 or the more recent attempts of the Zille, Mazibuko and De Lille triumvirate and the attempt to parachute Dr. Mamphela Ramphele into DA leadership.
As this moment presents itself in historic stature for the opposition party, South Africa in national agenda warrants a move to the middle ground of political leadership as we so acutely were reminded with recent xenophobic attacks, our role in SADC, our role in Africa and the World.
That the DA needs a shift from its entrenched paradigm and position of oppositional politics to this middle ground where the dream of future as embarked upon in the national polls of 1994 and built further with ensuing leaderships as trusted by the polls in the form of the governing party.
I am fully cognisant of the reality that you may well have the numbers to secure a win in tomorrow’s internal leadership election.
1. You are a young politician with hardly 5-10 years of exposure to national politics to be the custodian of the needed transformation in opposition politics.
2. The task at hand requires a seasoned politician to take the liberal project in the DA and to transform it into the direction our country needs. If you know anything about the evolution of the British, liberal politics and the democratic institutions it took seasoned leaders and minds to reach the point of transforming it by the turn of the previous century. (Locke, Walpole, Burke, Disraeli, and Peale to name a random few)
3. The country needs a transformed opposition that the promise of 1994 pointed to.
4. It is not ideal to have a “black” face merely for election purposes with a conservative ideology driving the liberal project. The electorate is wiser than that and may well judge you harshly in future elections.
5. It cannot be that we allow the conservative minds to drive a black face leader agenda at the expense of the much-needed transformation of our opposition politics from being oppositional to a meaningful opposition to the governing party.
It is in the light of the above, that I will prevail on you to put the country’s needs first. My unsolicited advice is to find the energy and time to grow your knowledge and experience in the current position you have assumed for the last year as Parliamentary leader for the DA.
Your time in the future may yet come, and you may be the right person come that hour. Do not allow those who want SA to go back to 1948 to lull you into believing your candidacy is the answer for this moment.
With this, we wish both candidates a fair election and a good result for SA.
I trust my musing in this regard, finds you receptive.
Bishop Clyde N. S. Ramalaine