THE DA held an historic federal congress in Port Elizabeth, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan municipality, the next metro outside of the City of Cape Town that the DA plans to win in 2016.
The congress made history ostensibly for electing the first black DA leader. Some people thought this would never happen and our main political opponents hoped it would never happen.
The only people not surprised by this eventuality were those who have worked tirelessly to get our party to this historic position.
Ever since the founders of the Progressive Party left the United Party under the leadership of Dr Jannie Steytler, they and successive leaderships and loyal supporters wanted to become a party for all South Africans in which one’s race, status, creed or religion made no difference to one’s opportunity in life.
To this end, Steytler offered prophetic witness when he spoke of governance “the Progressive Party way, because in the end, there is no other way that South Africa can be governed”.
This is testimony that the election of Mmusi Maimane is not a culmination but another step in the single-minded endeavour to govern South Africa the “Progressive Party way”.
What escaped many people, especially the political commentators obsessed with the colour of the new DA leader’s skin, was the fact that the DA discussed, debated and passed a number of important resolutions and policy positions dealing with the seminal issues that affect all South Africans on a daily basis.
These resolutions and policy proposals dealt with how we propose to create a society of “freedom, fairness and opportunity”.
Instead of these issues being the focus of media attention in order to show South Africans what the DA actually stands for, they were lost in the details of us having to take the SABC to court to enjoin them to broadcast our congress as they fawningly do the ANC national conferences and the “straw man” side show our values proposal around family became.
Much was made of one of the losing leadership candidates, Wilmot James’s opposition to our Values Charter insofar as our position on the family goes.
The DA’s Values Charter unambiguously states the South African people must have, “the maximum amount of individual freedom consistent with law and order”.
Where the family is mentioned in the document, it is only within the context of promoting individualism – the fundamental tenet of liberal thought.
As the charter states, “families, however uniquely structured, help build successful individuals and provide them a foundation with which to make sense of the world and realise their full potential as individuals”.
We recognise that every individual comes from a “family”, whether a conventional family of two parents, a broken family, a dysfunctional family , or extended family, tribe or community.
The DA goes on to say “a successful nation must have strong family structures . . . because no government can replace the role of family”.
It says: “When individuals are deprived of the opportunity to work, their independence and dignity, as well as their ability to provide for their families and those they care for, is undermined. Therefore our country needs an economy capable of creating work.”
We are proud to espouse these truisms as our values.
The governing party policies say the following regarding the right to home and family: “People shall be free to form families on a voluntary and equal basis.
“Subject to the principles of free choice and equality, appropriate legal recognition shall be given to all matrimonial unions. Single-parent families shall have legal recognition and support.”
The Freedom Charter makes provision for the rights of families, “to choose where they want to live, have decent housing and to bring up their families in comfort and security”.
It provides that “the aged, the orphans, the disabled and sick shall be cared for by the state”.
Essentially, both the DA and the ANC recognise and respect the sanctity of the family. Yet some of these noble ideals are observed only in the breach by the ANC.
In presenting itself as an alternative in planning to win the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan municipality, the DA does not want to govern better than the ANC according to the ANC model – it means we want to replace the ANC model with a DA model.
Our values proposals around the family are based on a parental or guardian example that promotes moral values that make the provision of condoms to 10-yearold school children anathema.
Our values proposals eschew the kind of societal travails that make our society one of the most violent in the world, especially towards women.
Our proposal seeks to prevent teenage pregnancies and not to consider what President Jacob Zuma was quoted as saying about pregnant teenage mothers to be, in the Mail & Guardian: “They must be forced to go to school far away until they are empowered.
“Take them to Robben Island, make them sit there and study until they are qualified to come back and work to look after their kids.”
We want a society where we recognise and respect the importance of supportive families that empower and support individuals to be the best that they can be.
This we believe is the foundation for successful nations and we want ours to be a successful nation where “freedom, fairness and opportunity” prevail.