Steenhuisen DA Zille

Image via Twitter: John Steenhuisen MP

Steenhuisen on ‘becoming’ DA leader: ‘I’ll keep Zille in her lane’

Steenhuisen is quickly climbing the ranks of the official opposition.

Steenhuisen DA Zille

Image via Twitter: John Steenhuisen MP

DA parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen has announced that he intends becoming DA leader in place of Mmusi Maimane, who has resigned.

Steenhuisen made the announcement during a speech to the Cape Town Press Club at Kelvin Grove in Newlands, the DA liberal heartland.

He will avail himself to become the interim leader of the DA when the party’s federal council meets to elect the interim leader on 17 November, and the leader proper when the DA federal congress meets in April.

Steenhuisen on Zille: “I will point the yellow lines out to her”

Regarding his relationship with the party’s powerful chairperson of the DA federal executive, Helen Zille, Steenhuisen said he has agreed and differed with her very strongly over the years. “One of the things we differed about was her tweets on colonialism. Twitter was definitely not the platform to raise the issue.

“Helen Zille won an election to fill that position – she did not appoint herself. She has promised to stay in her lane, and if she doesn’t, I will point the yellow lines out to her,” Steenhuisen undertook.

Steenhuisen admitted that the last few months have been tumultuous for the DA and that it has been a setback. But he stated that reports of the DA’s death are greatly exaggerated.

He said that the DA must focus on values and principles, not personalities. Voters must know what the DA is, what the DA is about and what the DA is fighting for – steel, not jelly.

Three rules for the DA going forward

In this regard, Steenhuisen said there were three traps to avoid. The DA must not lurch to the right in the belief that it must recapture conservative supporters. Neither must it lurch to the left and become ANC-lite. Lastly it must not do nothing and behave as if it is business as usual, because the political landscape is shifting and the Left is gaining traction.

According to Steenhuisen, the DA must be a fortress of non-racialism, compassion and reconciliation which respects diversity and will fight as hard for Afrikaans tuition at Stellenbosch as it will for Zulu mother tongue education. Group identity must be voluntary and should not translate into groupthink.

He stands for an enterprise economy with equal input rather than the ideal of equal outcome, excellent education and an understanding of the South African desire for dignity.

Steenhuisen committed himself to the liberal ideal, saying that ability and need must be the measure of disadvantage – not race.  The liberal ideal, according to Steenhuisen, thrives on contestation such as freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Furthermore, liberalism must be dynamic in adapting to changed circumstances, it must distrust concentrations of power and it must focus on respect for the individual.

If the DA stuck to such values, it would thrive, Steenhuisen says.