South African Opposition Leader Vows To Evict Ruling ANC

Formed in 2000 as a fusion of three mostly-white parties, the DA has struggled to escape its white, middle-class image and win over black voters.

Leader of the South African opposition Party Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen poses for a portrait during an interview in Pretoria, on February 16, 2024. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)


South Africa’s main opposition leader on Friday denounced the idea of a coalition with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party poised to lose its outright majority this year in an historic election battle.

In an interview, John Steenhuisen, the leader of the liberal Democratic Alliance (DA), told AFP that his party would “evict” the ANC, whose image has been stained by a lacklustre economic record and allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Formed in 2000 as a fusion of three mostly-white parties, the DA has struggled to escape its white, middle-class image and win over black voters.

But 47-year-old Steenhuisen, argues that race will play a lesser role 30 years after the end of white-minority rule.

Q: Why has the DA failed to make an electoral breakthrough so far?

A: South Africa has followed the trend of the majority of other post-liberation countries on the continent … where the post-liberation party enjoys a quite sustained period of political dominance but that then falls away.

I believe that after 30 years we’ve reached that critical tipping point and that’s why this election is going to be unlike any other in the past.

Q: After 30 years of democracy, will race still play a role?

A: Of course, race is going to play a role in this election, but the role that race will play in this election will be far less than it has played in elections in the last 30 years.

Q: What does former president Jacob Zuma’s new party mean for the DA?

A: With the advent of the former ANC leader Jacob Zuma’s party, it’s making the job in KwaZulu Natal a bit easier now … anything that lowers the ANC’s percentage and eats into their vote makes the job of the multi-party charter and the DA a lot easier.

We will only go into coalitions with parties that share that share the same values and principles, as we do. Mr Zuma we know as a constitutional delinquent, doesn’t respect the rule of law, he spent his entire career trying to subvert it.

Q: Would the DA join forces with the ruling ANC?

A: You ask: ‘Well, would you do a deal with the ANC?’. Well what ANC? Does President Ramaphosa survive being the first ANC President since 1994 to lose in the majority? There is a very good chance that he won’t and gets ejected.

These are the things that you will have to look at very carefully when those cards are dealt about what your next move would be. But I have made the commitment that our party will do whatever we can to prevent that scenario from taking place.

Q: What does a DA-led foreign policy look like?

A: 75 percent of South Africa’s foreign direct investment into our country, the same foreign direct investment that creates jobs, keeps our people in work and keeps our country’s economy moving forward comes from the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Seven percent of our foreign direct investment comes from Russia and China combined.

My worry is that we’re going to now get into this ideological… goose step with countries like Iran, with countries that don’t share these values and principles, and that we could imperil the foreign direct investment that’s coming in. And for nothing in return: we do not have a single bilateral agreement trade agreement with any of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.