Democratic Alliance (South Africa)

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Democratic Alliance
Leader Mmusi Maimane
Chairperson Athol Trollip
Deputy Chairperson Ivan Meyer
Refiloe Nt'sekhe
Desiree van der Walt
Slogan "One Nation. One Future."
Founded June 24, 2000; 15 years ago (2000-06-24)
Preceded by Democratic Party
Student wing Democratic Alliance Students Organisation
Youth wing Democratic Alliance Youth
Women's wing Democratic Alliance Women's Network
Overseas Supporters Network Democratic Alliance Abroad
Ideology Liberalism (South Africa)
Political position Centre
International affiliation Liberal International
Continental affiliation Africa Liberal Network
Colours      Blue
National Assembly
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20 / 90
Pan African Parliament
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SADC Parliamentary Forum
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Politics of South Africa
Political parties

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is a South African political party and the official opposition to the governing African National Congress (ANC). The present leader is Mmusi Maimane who succeeded former Mayor of Cape Town and Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille on 10 May 2015. The DA is broadly centrist, though it has been attributed both centre-left[1] and centre-right[2] policies. The party is a member of the Liberal International and the Africa Liberal Network. It traces its roots to the founding of the anti-apartheid Progressive Party in 1959, with many mergers and name changes between that time and the present. The party adopted its current name on 24 June 2000. Most recently, the party has integrated the smaller Independent Democrats and the tiny South African Democratic Convention.[3][4]

The DA has been the governing party of the Western Cape Province, one of South Africa's nine provinces, since the 2009 general election, having won a bigger majority at the most recent election in 2014. It is the only party to have increased its share of the vote in every national election held since 1994, and currently has 22.23% electoral support. The party is supported predominantly by English and Afrikaans-speaking South Africans.[5]


Helen Suzman and Harry Schwarz, who were prominent anti-apartheid campaigners during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Although the De″mocratic Alliance in its present form is fairly new, its roots can be traced far back in South African political history, through a complex sequence of splits and mergers. The modern day DA is in large part a product of the white parliamentary opposition to the ruling National Party in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time it was known variously as the Progressive Party, the Progressive Reform Party, and the Progressive Federal Party. During that time, the party was led by liberal-minded opponents of apartheid, such Jan Steytler, Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer, Colin Eglin, Frederik van Zyl Sla§→←←bbert and Harry Schwarz. The origin of the party can be traced to the mid 1950s when some younger members of the United Party, such as Suzman and Eglin, felt that their party was not providing strong enough opposition to the governing National Party and its policy of Apartheid. This led to them to break away and form the Progressive Party in 1959. The fledgling new party soon faced its first difficult decision in the late-1960s when the Apartheid government banned multi-racial organisations. It was faced with the choice to disband - a path chosen by the Liberal Party of South Africa[6] - or to become a whites-only party in order to continue to attempt to change the system from within. It chose the latter. For many years the party was very much in the shadow of the larger parties, however, with Suzman as its only MP, but a surge in support in the 1970s led it to become the official opposition. As the United Party ultimately disintegrated, the progressives accepted many UP splinter groups into its fold, causing the name to change several times. It eventually emerged as the Progressive Federal Party. In the 1990s, after freedom was achieved, the party was known as the Democratic Party. It faired relatively poorly in the first democratic election in 1994 but eventually rose from relative obscurity and ascended to the status of official opposition in 1999 under the leadership of Tony Leon, mainly by taking votes away from the New National Party. The NNP was a renamed version of the architects of apartheid, the National Party.

In 2000, the DP was renamed Democratic Alliance in preparation for a planned merger with the NNP and the much smaller Federal Alliance (FA) that was to be completed by the time of the 2004 general election. NNP members ran as DA candidates in the 2000 local government elections, in which the party secured 22% of the vote and an outright majority in the Cape Town unicity. Peter Marais became mayor of Cape Town, and the DA also took control of 20 local municipalities in the Western Cape. The alliance was short-lived however, and the NNP formed a new alliance with the ANC the following year. The FA also later left the DA. Many former NNP members, along with most of the party's voter base, remained with the DA however and the new name was kept. Following the NNP's defections, the party subsequently lost control of both Cape Town and the Western Cape province to the ANC. However, they regained control of Cape Town in the 2006 Local Government Elections — the only Metropolitan Council in South Africa not controlled by the ANC. Helen Zille was elected executive mayor on 15 March 2006 and formed a coalition with six smaller parties as the DA failed to win an outright majority in the council. Zille succeeded Leon as DA Party Leader in May, after a landslide leadership victory. Zille's subsequent successes as mayor led to her being awarded the 2008 World Mayor Prize.[7][8]

As Zille opted to remain as mayor of Cape Town as well as being DA leader, another DA member was required to represent the party in the National Assembly. Sandra Botha was elected as parliamentary leader until announcing her retirement from party politics in January 2009.[9] Following the 2009 general elections, the vacant parliamentary leadership post was filled by Eastern Cape provincial leader Athol Trollip. In 2011, Trollip was beaten in his re-election bid by the party's former national spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko. She served in the position until May 2014 when she left to study at Harvard,[10] at which point Mmusi Maimane was elected as the new parliamentary leader.

In 2015, Maimane also succeeded Helen Zille as the national leader of the party. His leadership has been controversial, as he has had to deal with the Dianne Kohler Barnard affair, has been criticised for his response to the student protests in late 2015,[11] and is currently facing disciplinary action from parliament for failure to declare campaign contributions.[12][13]

In January 2016, Maimane set out a new stance for the DA on the issue of racism, in which he called on racists not to vote for the DA, and spelt out a charter on racism that all new DA members will have to commit to when they join the party. He also announced that the DA would introduce equity targets when the DA selects candidates for public office in order to make the party more diverse and reflective of the country as a whole.[14] Some of these commitments may have consequences that become hard to manage in the future, as enforcing the pledge could be hard to enforce and there could be opposition to equity targets from established potential candidates who may be affected.[15]

Formation and mergers[edit]


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On 15 November 2008, the DA re-launched the party as one that no longer acts solely as an opposition but also offers voters another choice for government. The party also introduced a new logo, featuring a rising sun over the colours of the South African flag and a new slogan, "One Nation, One Future".[16][17] Party leader Helen Zille said the new DA would be “more reflective of our rich racial, linguistic and cultural heritage”.[18] Zille emphasised that she wanted the party to be a "party for all the people" and not decline into a "shrinking, irrelevant minority".[19]

Know Your DA Campaign[edit]

In 2013 the DA launched the 'Know Your DA' campaign, in an attempt to try and show that the DA (via its proxy predecessor organisations) was involved in the struggle against apartheid. This campaign focused mainly on the role played by a few key individuals in opposing apartheid - particularly Helen Suzman and Helen Zille.[20] The campaign received a certain amount of media attention, much of it somewhat sceptical.[21][22] The ANC issued a detailed critique of the campaign, focusing especially on Suzman's role in the apartheid parliament.[23]

The attempt to portray the DA as having been against apartheid has potentially been damaged by the Dianne Kohler Barnard affair.[24][25] James Selfe, Chair of the DA's Federal Council, has stated that it will cause 'massive damage' and hurt the DA in the polls.[26] DA Provincial leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Zwakele Mncwango, has seemingly downplayed the situation. Stating that Kohler Barnard would be moved from her constituency if she posed a threat to the party's electoral prospects, Mncwango added that when he had campaigned with Kohler Barnard in Folweni outside Durban, he saw no hostility towards her and "from what I saw there is that I don’t see people having an issue with Dianne as a person". He acknowledged that the saga had opened up the question of the DA's past and that a discussion was needed within the party[27]

The question of the DA projecting itself as a party that was against apartheid and does not tolerate racism surfaced again in January 2016 when Penny Sparrow, a DA member, posted racist comments about black people on the Durban beaches - comparing them to 'monkeys'. The DA has said it will suspend her from membership.[28][29] Further such challenges continue to arise.[30]

Former DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has criticised the almost exclusive domination of white men within the DA's 'brains trust'.[31] The DA has denied that the party is so dominated.[32]

Ideology and principles[edit]

The DA sums up its political philosophy as the belief in an "Open Opportunity Society for All".[33] Party leader Helen Zille has argued that this stands in direct contrast to the ruling ANC's approach to governance, which she maintains has led to a "closed, crony society for some".[34] This formed the basis of the philosophy underlying the party's 2009 Election Manifesto,[35] which seeks to build a society by linking outcomes to "opportunity, effort and ability".[36]

The DA's historical roots are broadly liberal-democratic. During the 1990s, the party remained associated with liberal values, though party leader Tony Leon's support for the reintroduction of the death penalty, the party's controversial 1999 campaign slogan "Fight Back", and the short-lived alliance with the right-wing New National Party fuelled criticisms of the party from the left.[37][38][39] After Helen Zille's election as party leader, the DA has attempted to reposition itself as a mainstream alternative to the ANC.[40] The party's economic policy is also broadly centrist, and supports a mix of high spending on crucial social services such as education and health care, a basic income grant, and a strong regulatory framework, with more "moderate" policies such as a lower budget deficit and a deregulated labour market.[41] At her 2009 State of the Province speech, party leader Zille described her party's economic policy as pragmatic:

Current policies[edit]


In the DA's crime plan, "Conquering Fear, Commanding Hope",[43] the DA committed itself to increasing the number of police officers to 250,000. This is 60,000 more than the government's own target.[44] The party also announced plans to employ 30,000 additional detectives and forensics experts and 500 more prosecutors, in order to reduce court backlogs, and establish a Directorate for Victims of Crime, which would provide funding and support for crime victims.

In addition, the party announced its support for a prison labour programme, which would put prisoners to work in various community upliftment programmes. The proposal was criticised by labour unions, who believed it was unethical and would result in labour job losses.[45]

In late 2008-2009, the DA took a stand against the South African Police Service's VIP Protection Unit, after several officers in the unit were charged with serious criminal offences. The party later released documentation of the unit's poor disciplinary record, and claimed its divisional commander had himself dodged serious criminal charges.[46]

The DA strongly opposed the disbandment of the Scorpions crime investigation unit,[47] and similar efforts to centralise the police service such as the nationwide disbandment of specialised Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.[48]

Social development[edit]

Central to the DA's social development policy, "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty",[49] is a Basic Income Grant, which would provide a monthly transfer of R110 to all adults earning less than R46,000 per year. The party also supports legislation that would require the legal guardians of children living in poverty to ensure that their child attends 85 percent of school classes, and undergoes routine health check-ups.

In addition, to aid with youth development skills, the party proposed a R6000 opportunity voucher or twelve month community service programme to all high school matriculants. The party also supports a universal old age pension, and the abolishment of pension means tests.


The DA's education programme, "Preparing for Success",[50] focuses on providing adequate physical and human resources to underperforming schools. The DA supports guaranteed access to a core minimum of resources for each school, proper state school nutrition schemes for grade 1–12 learners, and measures to train 30,000 additional teachers per year. The DA continues to support the introduction of new performance targets for teachers and schools, and also advocates a per-child wage subsidy, and a national network of community-based early childhood education centres.


The DA's "Quality Care for All"[51] programme is focused on tackling the country's high HIV/AIDS infection rate. Included in these plans is an increase in the number of clinics offering HIV testing and measures to provide all HIV-positive women with Nevirapine. The party's health policy also plans to devote more resources to vaccinations against common childhood illnesses.

The party also advocates creating a transparent and competitive health sector, to boost service delivery and encourage health care practitioners to remain in the country.


The DA’s economic policy aims to create a society in which all South Africans enjoy both the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and the opportunities to take advantage of those freedoms. In its 2010 Federal Congress booklet, 'The Open Opportunity Society for All', the party describes this society in the following terms:

The DA therefore advocates a mixed-economy approach, where the state is involved in the economy only to the extent that it can expand opportunity and choice.[52]

The manifesto includes various proposals detailing how a DA government would manage the economy and facilitate growth. The majority of the interventions suggested by the party are aimed at creating an atmosphere conducive to job creation and greater foreign direct investment:

Cutting the cost of doing business and creating jobs

The DA has suggested measures to make South Africa's labour market more amenable to job creation.[53] The party has also suggested several targeted interventions to allow for higher employment, especially amongst the youth. These interventions include a wage subsidy programme to reduce the cost of hiring first-time workers.

Fiscal Policy

The DA has committed itself to a counter-cyclical fiscal policy approach. This is evident in the party's previous alternative budget frameworks, with both alternative budgets posting deficits. The party defended this stance by arguing that increased spending was necessary to help the economy out of recession.[54] Other fiscal interventions have included a proposed scrapping of value added tax (VAT) on books and tax rebates for crime prevention expenditure by businesses.

Monetary Policy

The DA supports an inflation-targeting monetary policy regime similar to that of the African National Congress (ANC) government. It has also repeatedly reaffirmed its support and commitment for reserve bank instrument independence.[55] The DA proposes to incentivise savings by reducing taxes on income earned from fixed deposits that are held for longer than twelve months. The party states that this would help South Africa to boost its domestic savings rate to enable the country to invest in projects that will provide additional job opportunities.

Broad-Based Economic Empowerment

The party has rejected the ANC’s approach to Black Economic Empowerment, with former party leader, Helen Zille, arguing that the current policies have only served to enrich a small elite of politically connected businessmen. The party proposed an alternative it calls broad-based economic empowerment, which would provide for targeted interventions focusing on skills training and socio-economic investment instead of ownership targets. The party believes that this approach will give a broader group of black South Africans an opportunity to compete and partake in the economy.[56]

Industrial Policy

The party advocates an active industrial policy that allows the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to co-ordinate industrial policy. Additionally it would also set up a sovereign venture capital fund to help support innovation in key industries. The DA also supports the creation of Industrial Development Zones and Export Processing Zones. The party suggests that by relaxing certain regulations in these zones, manufacturers and exporters would be able to grow faster and employ more people. This fits into the party's broader vision of growing the economy by cutting red tape and regulations it claims is holding back South Africa's economic growth.[57]


The DA's "Land of Opportunity"[58] programme supports the 'willing buyer, willing seller' principle, though it also allows for expropriation for reform purposes in certain limited circumstances. The party has been critical of the resources that government has allocated to land reform, claiming that government has not been sufficiently active in buying up land that comes onto the market. Though the DA believes this could speed up the pace of land reform, their policies have been vocally criticised by members of the Tripartite Alliance. Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza accused the DA of attempting to "stifle" land reform,[59] while the South African Communist Party contended that the DA's policies overly favoured big business.[60]

Environment and energy[edit]

In the build up to the 2009 elections, the DA announced it would create a new Ministry of Energy and Climate Change, to ensure improved integrated energy planning in order to deal with South Africa's growing carbon dioxide emissions.[61] The DA's 2009 environment and energy plan, "In Trust for the Nation"[62] proposed new measures to increase energy efficiency, and the introduction of sectoral carbon emission targets.

The DA also proposes reforms to the energy sector that would see Eskom's designation as the single buyer of electricity revoked, thereby attracting greater investment and a more efficient energy market.

Electoral reform[edit]

The DA broadly supports reforms recommended by Frederik van Zyl Slabbert's electoral reform task-team, that would see the current party list voting system replaced by a 75% constituency-based/25% proportional representation-based electoral system that would apply at national and provincial level.[63] The DA's governance policy Promoting Open Opportunity Governance[64] also makes provision for the direct election of the president, which would give voters a more direct link to the executive branch.

The DA believe voting rights should be extended to include all South African citizens who are living and working abroad, many of whom intend returning.[65][66]

Electoral Campaigns[edit]

2009 general election[edit]


The DA launched its 2009 General Election campaign with the campaign slogan, "Vote to Win". It released its manifesto on 14 February.[67]

The party was expected to perform strongly in the Western Cape province, with analysts suggesting it would regain control of the province from the ruling ANC.[68] The ANC's support in the province was on the wane, while the DA had performed well in by-elections in the province leading up to the poll.[69]

The party projected that it would govern in the Western Cape province — a task made easier by the ANC-COPE split — though it expected to need to form a governing coalition in order to do so.[70][71] The party anticipated that it would take control of several other major cities and towns in the 2011 local elections, and, with what it termed a "realignment of SA politics", predicted it would take its "winning streak" into the 2014 elections, when it plans to challenge for the mantle of ruling party.[70][72]

The DA's relationship with ANC breakaway party Cope started strongly. Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota showed a willingness to co-operate with Zille in the future.[73][74] Subsequently Zille criticised COPE's internal structures and suggested many of the party's new members were merely Mbeki loyalists hoping to resurrect defunct political careers.[75] More recently COPE has distanced itself from the DA over the Kohler-Barnard affair.[76]

In the closing stages of the DA's campaign, it launched its "Stop Zuma" drive, which came under considerable criticism in the press—political analysts dubbing the tactic an example of "negative" politics. Zille later retorted, however, that what was really negative was the idea of handing over the right to change the Constitution unilaterally to Jacob Zuma and his "closed, crony network", as they would abuse that right both to enrich themselves and to protect themselves from prosecution.[77]


Proportion of votes cast for the DA in the 2009 election, by ward.

The DA produced its best results ever at the polls, scoring almost a million new voters to take its nationwide tally from 1,931,201 to just under 3,000,000, a growth of 50 per cent. Thanking supporters the following week,[78] Zille related proudly that the party had achieved all three of its primary objectives: it had kept the ANC below a two-thirds majority (albeit only just), won an outright majority in the Western Cape (the first time any party had done so in post-apartheid South Africa)[79] and significantly improved its standing in parliament, taking twenty more seats in the National Assembly; it now has 67 MPs and is to be allocated another ten seats on the National Council of Provinces.[80] It was the only party in the entire country to increase rather than lose overall support since the 2004 elections.[81]

Zille noted that the DA's increased representation in Parliament came largely at the ANC's expense, and that "with 65.9% of the vote and 264 seats in the National Assembly (down from 74.3% and 297 seats), the ANC no longer has the two-thirds majority it needs to change the Constitution unilaterally." She claimed that the decline in the ANC's support base and the concomitant increase in that of her own party was a result of the DA 'Stop Zuma' campaign.[80]

The DA also increased its support in eight of the nine provinces in South Africa, taking its total number of seats in provincial legislatures from 51 in 2004 to 65 in 2009. Zille saw the results as a vindication of the party's statement at the beginning of its campaign that the only two genuine political forces in South Africa were the DA and the ANC, with the latter losing support while the former consistently gained it, and voters refusing to waste their ballots on small, insignificant parties.[80]

Post-election vision

Although opposed to the notion that the DA represents only the white contingent of the South African electorate, Zille conceded that the DA's greatest challenge was to win more support from black South Africans.[82]

The Western Cape victory, she wrote, gave the party:

She described the party's plans for South Africa's "political realignment" (which began in 2006, when it took Cape Town and other local authorities in the Western Cape, and which it aimed to culminate in 2014 with an outright national majority) as going ahead smoothly. For the time being, a note of congratulation was granted Zuma and the ANC, with an acknowledgement that the people had given it a strong mandate to rule. "We trust that the ANC will not abuse this confidence, and will govern well and in the interests of all South Africans."[80]

2014 general election[edit]

Proportion of votes cast for the DA in the 2014 election, by ward.

Relationship with Mamphela Ramphele

A new party Agang South Africa was formed in 2013 by anti-apartheid icon Mamphela Ramphele. In January 2014, the DA announced that Ramphele had accepted an invitation to stand as its presidential candidate in the 2014 general election,[83][84][85] and the DA and Agang South Africa were set to merge.[86][87] Three days after the announcement, Ramphele stated that she would not take up DA party membership and would remain the leader of Agang South Africa, resulting in confusion.[88] Two days after this, Helen Zille stated that Ramphele had reneged on her agreement to stand as the DA's presidential candidate.[89] Ramphele subsequently apologised for the reversal of her decision, saying that the timing was not right as the reaction to it had shown people were unable to overcome race-based party politics.[90]


Leaders of the Democratic Alliance, and its predecessor parties:

Entered office Left office Party name
1 Jan Steytler 1 November 1959 December 1970 Progressive Party
2 Harry Lawrence2 December 1970 February 1971
3 Harry Schwarz 3 February 1975 July 1975
3 Colin Eglin4 February 1971 July 1975
July 1975 November 1977 Progressive Reform Party
November 1977 September 1979 Progressive Federal Party
4 Frederik van Zyl Slabbert September 1979 1986
5 Colin Eglin 1986 1988
6 Zach de Beer 1988 1989
7,8 Zach de Beer, Denis Worrall and Wynand Malan5 1989 1994 Democratic Party
9 Tony Leon 1994 June 2000
June 2000 May 2007 Democratic Alliance
10 Helen Zille6 May 2007 9 May 20157
11 Mmusi Maimane 10 May 2015 Present
  • 1 Between 1961 and 1970, Steytler served as party leader from outside Parliament, where Helen Suzman was the party's sole representative.
  • 2 Interim leader.
  • 3 Schwarz was leader of the Reform Party that broke away from the United Party and which merged with the Progressive Party. He was not ever leader of the Progressive Party itself, although he became part of the collective leadership of the newly merged Progressive Reform Party.
  • 4 First Progressive Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (from 1977).
  • 5 Co-leaders, following the formation of the Democratic Party in 1989.
  • 6 Zille, like Steytler and Lawrence, serves as leader from outside of Parliament, where she is represented by a separate Parliamentary Leader – first Sandra Botha, then Athol Trollip, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane.
  • 7 Zille announced on Sunday 12 April 2015 that she would not seek reelection at the party's national conference on May 9, 2015.

Parliamentary Leaders[edit]

Parliamentary leaders of the Democratic Alliance and its predecessor parties, in the absence of a sitting party leader in Parliament:

Parliamentary leader On behalf of Entered office Left office Party name
Helen Suzman Jan Steytler (1961–1970) October 1961 April 1974 Progressive
Harry Lawrence (1970–1971)
Colin Eglin (1971–1974)
Sandra Botha Helen Zille May 2007 April 2009 Democratic Alliance
Athol Trollip May 2009 October 2011
Lindiwe Mazibuko October 2011 May 2014
Mmusi Maimane May 2014 May 2015
Mmusi Maimane May 2015 Present


Federal chairpersons (sometimes referred to as 'national chairpersons') and chairpersons of the various parties' federal council (sometimes referred to as the party's 'federal executive' or the 'national council'):

Federal (National) Chairperson Years Party name Chairperson of the Federal Council
1 Harry Lawrence 1959–1963 Progressive Party 1 Zach de Beer
1963–1971 2 Colin Eglin
1971–1973 3 Ray Swart
2 Ray Swart 1973–1975
1975–1977 Progressive Reform Party 4 Harry Schwarz
1977–1979 Progressive Federal Party
3 Colin Eglin 1979–1980 5 Gordon Waddell
1980–1986 6 Alex Boraine
4 Peter Gastrow 1986–1987 7 Ken Andrew
5 Helen Suzman 1987–1989
6 Tian van der Merwe 1989–1991 Democratic Party 8 Dave Gant
7 Ken Andrew 1991–1997
8 Errol Moorcroft 1997–2000 9 Douglas Gibson
9 Joe Seremane 2000–2010 Democratic Alliance 10 James Selfe
10 Wilmot James 2010–2015
11 Athol Trollip 2015–present

Chief Executive Officers[edit]

Chief executive officers of the Democratic Alliance:

Started Ended
1 Ryan Coetzee November 2004 July 2009
2 Jonathan Moakes July 2009 Dec 2014
3 Paul Boughey Jan 2015 Incumbent

Electoral Performance[edit]

These charts show the electoral performance for the Democratic Alliance, and its predecessor the Democratic Party, since the advent of democracy in 1994:

National Parliamentary Election Results[edit]

National Assembly[edit]

Election year Total votes Share of vote Seats +/– Government
1994 338,426 1.43%
7 / 400
In Opposition
1999 1,527,337 9.56%
38 / 400
Increase 31 Official Opposition
2004 1,931,201 12.37%
50 / 400
Increase 12 Official Opposition
2009 2,945,829 16.66%
67 / 400
Increase 17 Official Opposition
2014 4,091,584 22.23%
89 / 400
Increase 22 Official Opposition

National Council of Provinces[edit]

Election year # of
overall seats won
+/– Government
3 / 90
In Opposition
8 / 90
Increase 5 Official Opposition
12 / 90
Increase 4 Official Opposition
13 / 90
Increase 1 Official Opposition
20 / 90
Increase 7 Official Opposition

Provincial Legislature Election Results[edit]

Election Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
1994 2.05% 1/56 0.57% 0/30 5.32% 5/86 2.15% 2/81 0.21% 0/40 0.56% 0/30 0.50% 0/30 1.87% 1/30 6.64% 3/42
1999 6.29% 4/63 5.33% 2/30 17.95% 13/73 8.16% 7/80 1.42% 1/49 4.48% 1/30 3.26% 1/30 4.77% 1/30 11.91% 5/42
2004 7.34% 5/63 8.47% 3/30 20.78% 15/73 8.35% 7/80 3.59% 2/49 6.94% 2/30 5.00% 2/33 11.08% 3/30 27.11% 12/42
2009 9.99% 6/63 11.60% 3/30 21.86% 16/73 9.15% 7/80 3.48% 2/49 7.49% 2/30 8.25% 3/33 12.57% 4/30 51.46% 22/42
2014 16.20% 10/63 16.23% 5/30 30.78% 23/73 12.76% 10/80 6.48% 3/49 10.40% 3/30 12.73% 4/33 23.89% 7/30 59.38% 26/42

Municipal Election Results[edit]

Election Votes % +/–
1995-96 302,006 3.48% -
2000 None released 22.1% Increase 18.6
2006 3,888,780 14.8% Decrease 7.3
2011 6,393,886 23.9% Increase 9.1

Democratic Alliance Youth[edit]

The Democratic Alliance Youth (DA Youth), which came officially into being late in 2008, was led by Mbali Ntuli between 2013 and 2014. She took over from Makashule Gana in May 2013. The DA Youth national chairperson is Yusuf Cassim.[91] Tertus Simmers and Thorne Godinho are the DA Youth Federal Training and Development Chaiperson and the Media and Publicity Chairperson respectively. As of August 2014, Yusuf Cassim is the interim DA Youth Leader.

Democratic Alliance Women's Network[edit]

The Democratic Alliance Women's Network (DAWN), promotes the empowerment and development of women and is led by Denise Robinson, MP.

Democratic Alliance Abroad[edit]

The Democratic Alliance Abroad (DA Abroad) was officially launched in November 2009. As a network for Democratic Alliance supporters living overseas, the DA Abroad is led by Global Chairperson Ludre Stevens, General Secretary Francine Higham and President Nigel Bruce.

The DA Abroad has active hubs in the United Kingdom, United States, UAE, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Namibia, China and South Korea.

Democratic Alliance Young Leaders Programme[edit]

The DA’s Young Leaders Programme (YLP) is a political leadership development programme for South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35 who believe in the DA’s vision of the Open, Opportunity Society for All. Participants of the programme are highly motivated individuals, interested in pursuing a career in politics, with a track record of leadership excellence. Over the course of one year, participants of the programme are equipped with an in-depth political knowledge, critical thinking and communication skills and the opportunity to grow their leadership capacity, self-awareness and emotional maturity.



In December 2007, a local DA councillor, Frank Martin, allegedly encouraged local families to occupy newly built N2 Gateway houses in Delft in the Western Cape. After over 1,000 backyarders from the area occupied the houses, a high profile political fight between ANC and DA leaders ensued, each accusing the other of racism, playing party politics, and using the poor for their own gain.[92][93] The ANC along with a number of civil society organisations such as the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers accused the DA of either instigating or tacitly approving of Martin's role in the invasions.[94][95][96] Judge Van Zyl of the Cape Town High Court ruled to evict residents and also faulted Frank Martin for instigating the occupation.[97] Criminal charges against Martin were later dropped.[95][98][99] On 18 February 2009, a City of Cape Town disciplinary committee found Martin guilty of encouraging people to invade homes at Delft and was suspended for one month.[100] A further political spat ensued after February 2008 between the DA and the Delft-Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign, which accused the DA of favouring its party supporters.[101][102] In response, Zille denied this, and pointed out that the City of Cape Town had responded to the crisis by providing comprehensive services to the Delft evictees.[103]

Xenophobic attacks[edit]

The DA and mayor Helen Zille drew criticism for their response to the 2008 xenophobic attacks in Cape Town.[104][105] In particular, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel accused Zille of "fanning the flames", by speaking out against foreign drug dealers while on a visit to Mitchell's Plain. Zille responded that she had been completely misquoted, and challenged Manuel to read newspaper transcripts of her speech.[106] Zille has also accused the ANC government of creating a dependency culture lacking of economic development that has fuelled xenophobia.[107]

King Bulelekhaya Dalindyebo[edit]

The DA has been accused of opportunism in very publicly welcoming into its ranks King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, despite his conviction in 2012 on serious criminal charges. The perspective existed that the King could bring votes to the DA in the Eastern Cape.[108] In the end, the DA had to expel him from the party when his conviction was upheld on appeal.

Dianne Kohler Barnard[edit]

In late 2015 DA Shadow Minister Dianne Kohler Barnard was expelled from the party after re-posting a Facebook post that praised apartheid President PW Botha. Her expulsion has divided the party, with many feeling that the punishment was too harsh, and the affair has been the first real test for new leader Mmusi Maimane.[109] In the end, the decision was changed on appeal to the party's Federal Legal Commission, and her expulsion has been suspended for the duration of the current Parliament,[110] although the matter may not be finally resolved as yet,[111] with reports of internal DA party witch-hunts.[112]

Zille - Max[edit]

In December 2015 another internal controversy erupted, this time between Helen Zille and Lennit Max, which is the subject of a DA investigation. Essentially a war of words between the two with accusation and counter-accusation about spying, allocation of posts and so on.[113]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Focus on Gordhan and Manuel, John Matisonn, 29 April 2009, "Many DA policies are to the left of Cope [itself a centre-left party]"
  2. ^ A critique of the Democratic Alliance, Frans Cronje, South African Institute of Race Relations, november 2008 " the DA whose centre-right position in South African politics could now face a credible challenge for the first time"
  3. ^ "DA, ID seal it with a pact". 
  4. ^
  5. ^
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  7. ^ "Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, wins the 2008 World Mayor Prize". World Mayor Award. 13 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "SA mayor scoops 'world best' award". IOL. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  9. ^ "Botha tight-lipped about her future". Primedia. 8 January 2009. 
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  16. ^ "DA relaunches as 'party of government'". IOL. 15 November 2008. 
  17. ^ "DA relaunches in Johannesburg". SABC. 15 November 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ "‘Yes we can’, chant DA faithful". The Citizen. 16 November 2008. 
  19. ^ "Zille: In for the long haul". Mail&Guardian. 20 November 2008. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
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  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Our Visions and Values". DA. 20 August 2008. 
  34. ^ "Introductory letter by DA Leader, Helen Zille". DA. 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. 
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  36. ^ "DA Manifesto 2009" (PDF). DA. 
  37. ^ "How DP came to Fight Back". 3 August 2008. 
  38. ^ "DA's death penalty stance irks De Lille". South African Press Association. 11 March 2004. 
  39. ^ "Tony Leon to step down as DA leader". 26 November 2006. 
  40. ^ "ANC's shift could spell trouble". 15 January 2009. 
  41. ^ "Ensuring South Africa’s prosperity in the face of the global economic crisis". 
  42. ^ "State of the Province Speech 2009". 
  43. ^ "CONQUERING FEAR II.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  44. ^ "DA promises to reinstate Narcotics Bureau". Cape Times. 12 August 2008. 
  45. ^ "DA's prison work plan is slavery with new name". Business Report. 15 August 2008. 
  46. ^ "Blue light bullies off the hook". 
  47. ^ "Opposition: Scorpions bill marks dark day in SA history". 
  48. ^ "How we can resource our agencies properly". 
  49. ^ "Breaking the cycle of poverty.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  50. ^ "Preparing for Success.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  51. ^ "Health review11.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  52. ^ "Our Policies: Economics". 
  53. ^ "New labour laws will kill jobs – Ian Ollis". 
  54. ^ "Alternative Budget 2010: Budgeting for Opportunity". 
  55. ^ "DA welcomes interest rates decision". 
  56. ^ "DA Economic Policy". 
  57. ^ "Job figures unrealistic". 
  58. ^ "Land reform – land of opportunity" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  59. ^ "DA's land reform plan shot down by Thoko Didiza" (PDF). Daily Dispatch. 2 December 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2008. 
  60. ^ "SACP Statement on the DA's approach to land and agrarian reform". SACP. 1 December 2005. 
  61. ^ "DA Unveils Energy Policy". News24. 13 January 2009. 
  62. ^
  63. ^ "DA proposes electoral reform ahead of next year's general elections". 
  64. ^
  65. ^ "S African Democratic Alliance to lobby for voting rights for S Africans abroad". China View. 21 November 2008. 
  66. ^ "IEC to consider overseas voting rights". The Times (South Africa). 21 November 2008. 
  67. ^ "DA election launch in Soweto". News24. 15 January 2009. 
  68. ^ "Minorities become important as polls loom". IOL. 7 September 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  69. ^ "DA: Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, on the party’s victory in the Western Cape by-elections". 
  70. ^ a b Terreblanche 2009.
  71. ^ "DA sets its sights on governing Western Cape". SABC. 12 November 2008. 
  72. ^ "DA plans to rule SA from 2014". IOL. 11 November 2008. 
  73. ^ "Lekota open to DA Alliance". IOL. 19 November 2008. 
  74. ^ "Zille backs Lekota's views". IOL. 19 November 2008. 
  75. ^ "Zille slams COPE as a ploy to resurrect political careers". 10 January 2009. 
  76. ^
  77. ^ Zille, Helen. "Thank you for voting for change." SA Today, 1 May 2009.
  78. ^ At the end of her weekly newsletter, after thanking all DA members, canvassers and campaigners, she wrote, "I would also like to thank every DA voter. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for making the right choice. Thank you for standing up for real change in South Africa. Thank you for standing up for strong opposition and for a positive alternative. [...] You have helped us achieve this historic milestone. We will honour our commitments to you, and work tirelessly to reward your faith in the DA" (Zille 2009).
  79. ^ Even the ANC ruled only via coalition.
  80. ^ a b c d e Zille 2009.
  81. ^ See table at South African general election, 2009#National Assembly results.
  82. ^ (Zille 2009).
  83. ^ "Ramphele is joining us – DA source". IOL. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  84. ^ "Ramphele: This is an astonishing moment for SA". News24. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  85. ^ "Ramphele announced as DA presidential candidate". Mail & Guardian. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  86. ^ Davis, Rebecca (28 January 2014). "DA-Agang: Dial M for Merger". IOL. Retrieved 29 January 2014. Zille said that the two parties were establishing a 'joint technical committee to manage the integration of the DA and Agang SA structures and volunteers'. 
  87. ^ Ensor, Linda (28 January 2014). "Mamphela Ramphele joins DA as presidential candidate". Business Day. Retrieved 29 January 2014. Dr Ramphele said she believed the merger was a historic moment 
  88. ^ Ramphele, Mamphela (31 January 2014). "I won't be accepting DA membership on Monday". Politicsweb. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  89. ^ Zille, Helen (2 February 2014). "Mamphela Ramphele has reneged on our agreement". Politicsweb. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  90. ^ "Ramphele says she made the right decision with DA candidacy". Times LIVE. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  91. ^ New DA Federal Youth Leadership
  92. ^ "Western Cape Evictions trial on hold". Labournet. 8 January 2008. 
  93. ^ "DA councillor in court over Delft housing incident". Mail & Guardian. 21 December 2008. 
  94. ^ "Western Cape govt mulls lawsuit over Delft". M&G. 
  95. ^ a b "DA councillor's role in Delft is 'criminal'". Cape Argus. 20 February 2008. 
  96. ^ "Squatters to defy council". Sowetan. 
  97. ^ "High Court case Minister of Housing Western Cape vs Various Unlawful Occupiers" (PDF). Legal Brief. 
  98. ^ "Frank Martin freed-for now". 
  99. ^ "DA's Delft councillor denies claims". Cape Argus. 28 February 2008. 
  100. ^ DA councillor found guilty IOL
  101. ^ "Delft homeless are now being evicted from their tents!". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 
  102. ^ "Eviction battle fuels election race". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 
  103. ^ "Speech by Helen Zille" (PDF). 
  104. ^ Kaplan, Kenneth (15 June 2008). "In Cape Town, hopes dim as progress lags". Boston Globe. 
  105. ^ "Shattered Myths: The xenophobic violence in South Africa". Pambazuka News. 3 July 2008. 
  106. ^ "A revolution of rising expectations". 
  108. ^
  109. ^
  110. ^
  111. ^
  112. ^
  113. ^


External links[edit]