With the race on for federal leadership positions and chairpersons, the two-day Democratic Alliance (DA) federal congress kicked off on Saturday at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
DA federal congress
Excitement is in the air as over 2 000 delegates draped in DA regalia gather to vote for the party’s new leadership which will take it to the 2024 general elections.
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Chants of “DA forever” are heard all over the plenary. According to the DA, its federal congress this weekend could in all prospects pick the country’s next president.
DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said the country is languishing in perpetual blackouts due to the “broken Eskom that was looted and brought to its knees by ANC cadres.”
“Small businesses are shutting their doors sending more people into the unemployment queues. Hospitals cannot save lives due to blackouts,” she said.
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“Continuous power cuts have started to affect the provision of water – a basic human right.
“The dream of a better life has turned into a nightmare.”
Gwarube said the ANC was once a liberation giant across Africa, but it has now “turned into the oppressor of its people.”
“It is about time that we completely write off the ANC as a party of the past, not the party of our future.
“A relic of the past that is completely disinterested in the liberation of its people from the clutches of poverty,” she said.
Rising cost of living
The DA chief whip added that the party has concrete proposals to cushion many South Africans against the rising cost of living.
Gwarube said the DA is demanding that government slashes fuel levies and extend the list of zero-VAT-rated goods, and tabled these proposals in Parliament.
“This was a proposal that would go a long way to save people from sheer hunger and desperation. The ANC government refused. They refused because they are not affected by the choices they make in government.
“Ministers don’t need to buy their own petrol; they are driven around in luxury. Ministers don’t need to buy their own houses; they get given two houses each, fitted with generators to shield them from load shedding.
“Ministers don’t need to worry about their safety every night, they are guarded by 24–hour security everywhere they go. This is why we have a government that is out of touch.”
Western Cape DA delegate Jane Du Toit said it was an exciting day and she was proud to be a member of the party.
Du Toit said the opportunity to elect new leadership reflects the DA’s ability to bring and drive change.
“It just fills me with joy to be here and to be a part of this. The party has worked very hard for its people and I believe they will continue to do so,” she said.
As the congress continues, live performances are expected as well as speeches by candidates for federal leader, discussions on constitutional amendments, and organisational reports.
The party’s current leader, John Steenhuisen, and former Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse will present their speeches to convince delegates to choose them to ultimately lead the DA for the next coming four years.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe
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