Democratic Alliance leaders are defending proposed amendments to the party’s constitution championed by its leader, Mmusi Maimane.
The mooted changes include a proposal for the party to replicate South Africa’s diversity in its own ranks. This has been met with some resistance.
Two members of Parliament, Gavin Davis and Michael Cardo, wrote to delegates attending the April DA congress cautioning against the amendments.
They argue the proposals are championed by the so-called “progressive and black caucus faction”, which, they claim, wants the DA to impose racial quotas for the composition of its parliamentary and legislature caucuses.
“I don’t think its true that our caucuses are dominated by whites, but there are individual caucuses, of which the parliamentary caucus is one, that I believe are insufficiently diverse,” said James Selfe, the party’s federal executive chair.
But DA Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana wants people to look closely at the party.
“Let’s remove the other parties: let’s remove the ANC, let’s remove the EFF. Let the South African Parliament be the DA caucus. Would we say that if you look at that caucus as it is that South Africa is reflected in there? If the answer to that question is no, then it means there is work to be done.”
Davis and Cardo argue the progressive faction wants to steer the DA towards parroting the ANC’s language of transformation and representation.
They reject the idea of the parliamentary and provincial caucuses mirroring the country’s demographics, warning that imposing race-based quotas for these caucuses would fly in the face of the DA’s liberal values.
“That is not to say there should be a quota or anything of that nature. But what it does mean is that we should work harder to make the caucus more diverse than it is at the moment,” said Selfe.
The other constitutional amendment the two MPs oppose is that women who join the DA should automatically be deemed members of its women’s structure unless they opt out.
The counter-argument is that this is merely an administrative proposal, which in any case already applies to the party’s youth structure.