The Democratic Alliance’s manifesto has little to offer minority groups, its traditional support base, and this could be its undoing at the polls as there may be a lot of dissatisfaction with it, a political scientist has warned.
Professor André Duvenhage from North-West University’s political science department, said the party’s traditional support base – white voters, coloureds and Indians – had special needs, which the party failed to take into consideration in its manifesto.
“Let’s say I am an Afrikaner male (which, coincidentally, he actually is) who is getting very negative in my workplace environment as a result of, among other factors, black economic empowerment and so forth: what is the party offering to that constituency?” he asked.
Duvenhage said there were lots of grievances among minority groups, who feel the DA is now too like the ANC on BEE, and that its liberal identity did not feature prominently in the party’s manifesto for the 2019 general elections.
“We had this big debate in the DA about black empowerment versus individual recognition. The individual thing comes from the classic liberal tradition, which was very prominent within the DA and the former Democratic Party and Progressive Federal Party. It seems that this notion, that concept, is not very prominent within their manifesto,” he said.
Duvenhage, however, acknowledged he was generally impressed with the party’s manifesto, saying it focused academically on the main issues and that it was in line with the party’s broader philosophy.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane outlined the party’s master plan to about 20,000 party supporters gathered at the Rand Stadium on Saturday.
According to Duvenhage, the manifesto was a constructive point of departure for the purposes of the coming elections. He said the party focused on the key issues of economic growth, high levels of unemployment, corruption and governance, and used its success in the Western Cape as an example of the kind of government the country would have if the DA were elected to power.
Also positive in the manifesto was the forms of privatisation the party proposed to get the economic system going and its stance against the concept of expropriation without compensation, Duvenhage said.
“The most decisive point that can influence their position is the fact that they are against expropriation without compensation. We know that debate is going to be very important,” he said.
Duvenhage singled out corruption, the functioning of the state and administration, and job creation, as hot election campaigning issues.
He said parties agreed about what was important but differed hugely in terms of their strategies.