The lockdown came as a jolt for the DA, but has forced it to become an online party, its federal council chairperson, Helen Zille, has said.
She was in conversation with DA interim leader John Steenhuisen on the party’s twice-weekly broadcast called Coronacast, streamed on the party’s Facebook page.
Zille, the former party leader who made a dramatic return to the party leadership in October last year, said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a hard lockdown came as a “big jolt” for the DA.
It had to “repurpose the whole party to function online”, she added.
Zille said the party’s “brilliant IT people” have made it possible to have complex debates, and for voting to take place.
“Suddenly, we’ve become an online party.”
“Our federal head office is going to become a computer screen,” Zille said, adding it would also slash the party’s travel budget in future.
She added in the coming weeks, the DA would have a “big first” – an online mayoral selection panel.
Furthermore, the party also had to come up with a policy response to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Zille said the DA had immediately repurposed its policy unit “under the capable leadership of Gwen Ngwenya”, which was busy drafting policy positions for the policy conference which would be held later this year.
Instead, it focused on a Covid-19 policy which led to the smart lockdown policy that Steenhuisen announced before anyone else was talking about it, Zille said.
The DA’s policy conference was scheduled for 4 and 5 April, and its federal conference in May but postponed it in March before the national lockdown was announced.
The party also suspended all political meetings across the country.
Its policy conference will take place in September, and the elective conference in late October or early November, it was announced earlier.