South African opposition ‘shoots itself in foot’

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The decision of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance to elect a white person, John Steenhuisen, as its interim leader suggests that the party will struggle to win support among the black majority.

Mr. Steenhuisen beat a black candidate, Makashule Gana, and will serve in the post until a permanent leader is elected at a congress next year.

His election follows the resignation last month of the DA’s first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, who said he no longer saw the traditionally white party as the “best vehicle” to create a united South Africa.

Mr. Steenhuisen is a much-loved figure and was effective as the party’s chief whip in parliament, but the DA has shot itself in the foot by choosing a white leader as Mr. Maimane’s successor.

It is unlikely that he will be able to increase the party’s support among black people and help the DA achieve its goal of defeating the governing African National Congress (ANC) in the next general election in five years’ time.

With Mr Steenhuisen at the helm, the DA, therefore, has its work cut out in convincing people that it is no longer a party that primarily represents the interest of racial minorities.

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