The DA is not an alternative to the ANC


Wandile Ngcaweni feels the DA is the vanguard of white privilege in South Africa, and is not a viable alternative to the ANC.

The rise of the Democratic Alliance (DA), as an encampment of white privilege, and the political home of the home of the worst self-righteous, racist bigots, is worrying. It is seriously worrying, especially considering that it’s the DA that’s been touted as the long-term alternative to an increasingly factious ANC.

I think the search for an “alternative” to the ANC shows ignorance of our history, bordering on apartheid amnesia. Many young people fed-up with the status quo sought to teach the ANC a lesson at this year’s municipal elections. Whether indeed the ANC will learn anything remains to be seen. I am however concerned in our moves towards the DA as an alternative to the ANC.

For me, the DA became the political home of people who taught themselves to bottle up their racism after 1994. It was wishful thinking from the ANC then, and our parents, that racism would miraculously disappear as soon as Mandela took over the reigns of the country.

The folly of our elders is that they believed constitutional democracy would eradicate structural racism. And the DA has been able to take advantage of this.

The policies of the DA are evidence of the anti-black sentiments white people hold through this organisation they religiously identify with. Their policies have not changed much since Tony Leon, even with a black person at the helm – their land policy is ever more wishy-washy, they reject simple proposals like the necessity of the national, minimum wage because the voters of the party only feel at home when they know white privilege is maintained at the cost of black obscurity.

Black faces in the DA leadership are not a threat to the party. In fact, they serve as a temporary fix to the bottled-up racism. Once in a while, it becomes too hard for the white “minority” to push down their racism, they slip up and we behold their true selves.

Those of us who have warned against blind loyalty to the party, never rejoice to the “slip-ups” because as black people we understand the repercussions of living in a racist society. The party is the home to an overwhelming majority of white people and as we know racial prejudice in a colonised state becomes inherent. That is why until the DA fully commits to a decolonial agenda, the party and its white voters won’t shake off their racist tendencies.

It is easy for the DA to distance themselves from racist rants of their members in good standing like Penny Sparrow and MPs like Dianne Kohler-Barnard. But when the former leader of the party and Premier of the Western Cape expresses disgust and intolerance to young black students seeking decolonial justice at a university based at what fallists refer to as the “Cape Colony”, the party’s real colours show. The logic is if Helen can say students who are fighting for justice for black people are annoying and should be kept out the institution, she is a racist reflective of her party. Since her claim to fame and political legitimacy is being a sympathiser to black pain by reporting on Bantu Biko’s death, did she not find his “wokeness” uncomfortable?

What does she say about black empowerment at DA policy meetings? What do all the white founders of the party say to Mmusi Maimane when he proposes pro-black governance (assuming he does) for the party? I know the answer.

Maimane does not have the meaningful capacity to challenge their racism without committing political suicide. Young South Africans should know that the neo-liberal DA can never be seen as an alternative to a revolutionary liberation movement.

Even the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) would’ve been a better “alternative” because at least they offer self-assisted land policies.

The ANC needs serious introspection, as noted by its deputy president, when it comes to its policies, politics and systems of patronage. But that introspection needs not to be led by the very people who are the problem and those who are complicit in leading this disaster of a government. Cyril, as Zuma’s deputy, is in no position to come with tunes of ANC self-introspection. A total review of political choices and government decisions taken since Codesa till now is in order.

The current ANC, in maintaining celebrity ministers have forgotten that the liberation movement belongs to the people, not its executive members. The ANC needs to live up to its revolutionary credentials and promises and forever inspire a review of itself. The Freedom Charter cannot be ignored any longer.

Featured image by Nabila Bana


  1. This analysis might have made some sort of sense before the election results. Now it just seems churlish and completely inconsistent with the facts.

  2. Its quite interesting that you would mention slip ups by the white “minority” and so conveniently forget that the ANC not only “slips up”, but yells it out as loud as they can from the rooftops. Point in case when the ANC campaigned for the municipal elections? Their campaign strategy was focused on keeping a country divided. Black against white. Not quite the Nelson Mandela dream. So maybe the ANC is not the party to lead us going forward either. My suggestion on writing a piece, be objective. Else you might just come across as a racist yourself.

    • Everyone needs a villain, that’s not to say that white privilege doesn’t exist but all this yapping isn’t going to change anything. Having a sense of agency and create your own opportunities.

      Set the example and create a new culture that doesn’t see these cosmetics differences. It’s the only way we’re going to succeed in this world.

  3. I think the author has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the DA. I feel that the DA will always revert to their main constituents – the wealthy white folk of SA. I feel that there is a need for a new political dimension that promotes nation building and collaboration between all political parties. The problem is that there is a heck of a gravy train in SA, supplying all those who choose public office. The civil servants see public service as an opportunity to be paid and to make money. No, something else needs to change. The latest election results do not indicate that the DA is really a true alternative to the ANC. No, from what I have observed from the DA here in CT, is that the same contempt develops for voters and average citizens between elections. I also believe that the civil service in the Western Cape was always a cut above the rest of the country, and that the DA should not try to responsibility for this.

  4. It is the nature of politics that all parties should stand for different things, so I cannot understand why anyone would really want the DA to be an alternative to the ANC or the EFF. The idea should be to vote for the party which will deliver the best results, particularly in local elections.
    However, if you need an opportunity to sit back and relax, I know of several white people who believe the DA is turning on white people for the sake of looking better to black voters, so perhaps many will be searching for their own ‘alternative’ soon. In which case, investing in Oranje might look better to them every day: self-imposed separate development.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here