The Democratic Alliance (DA) has told the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) that it will not “kowtow to external influence.”
The party sent the stern message in a statement issued by its national spokesperson Solly Malatsi on Tuesday.
“In the pursuit of building South Africa, as both a party in opposition and in government, we will not kowtow to external influence that seeks to drive factional and destructive behaviour in our organisation,” it said.
IRR’s #SaveTheOpposition campaign
The DA was reacting to IRR’s recently launched campaign dubbed #SaveTheOpposition.
IRR said it launched the campaign “in reaction to the dire state of opposition politics in South Africa.”
It singled out DA leaders such as Phumzile van Damme, Herman Mashaba, Luyolo Mphithi and Chief Whip John Steenhuisen for criticism.
In a statement on Monday, IRR campaigns coordinator Hermann Pretorius said, “Events of the past week and the behaviour of these senior public representatives have made it painfully clear how necessary it is for ordinary South Africans – and think thanks like the IRR – to intervene in the affairs of the DA.”
The Institute also tweeted, “SA must pressure the DA to expel racist leaders, stamp out corruption, stop race-based policies, break off its alliance with the EFF, and appoint good leaders. SA needs a strong and principled opposition.”
‘We won’t outsource decision-making’
The DA has now hit back at IRR, asserting that it will “never outsource its decision-making functions to outside bodies – doing so would be tantamount to capture of the organisation.”
It said only the party’s Federal Congress, Federal Council, Federal Executive and National Management Committee had the power to take decisions.
DA said while it has relations with many other think tanks, none of them has attempted to “influence leadership contests” the way IRR is doing.
It questioned why IRR’s #SaveTheOpposition campaign is only aimed at DA and not all opposition parties.
“The IRR has deliberately and mischievously chosen to take a hostile position against the DA and four of our public representatives, in its latest salvo, this is unacceptable,” the party said.
The DA-IRR spat happens as the DA prepares for its crucial Federal Council meeting on 20 October, where it will elect its next Federal Council chairperson.
Candidates for the senior position include Helen Zille, Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters.
Prior to joining the race, Zille was a senior policy fellow at IRR.