It was announced today that the DA will be re-launched this coming Saturday. Below is Helen Zille’s statement:
STATEMENT BY HELEN ZILLE
LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE
The re-launch of the Democratic Alliance
This Saturday, the Democratic Alliance will be re-launched at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. The venue is symbolically significant because we are, always have been, and always will be, the party that defends South Africa’s Constitution and the values that underpin it.
The re-launch on Saturday will be the most significant event in the history of our party. We believe that it will also come to be seen as a landmark in our country’s political history.
Today I want to explain why we are re-launching our party. Exactly what we are doing will become clear at Constitution Hill on Saturday.
After the 2006 local government election, it started to become clear that the realignment of politics was beginning and that the Democratic Alliance would play a key role in that process. The ANC’s unraveling, which was just starting, together with the newly established multi-party coalition in Cape Town, indicated that there was a very real prospect of an electoral change of government in South Africa – through a coalition or otherwise – during the next ten years.
The first step was to confirm empirically what our instincts were saying. We commissioned a major research project to determine the extent of the electorate’s appetite for change and to understand better the kind of change that people wanted. The results were very encouraging.
The survey showed that there are many voters who support the three core principles of the DA – freedom under the constitution, non-racialism and equality of opportunity. It showed that voters of all races are looking for a realignment of politics where parties and people who share the same values come together to take forward the cause of the Open, Opportunity Society for All.
This appetite for change was illustrated this past weekend when we saw huge numbers of new voters registering to vote. The turnout was unprecedented. Our figures tell us that five times as many DA supporters registered to vote this weekend than in the first registration weekend before the 2004 election. People want change and they are prepared to go to the polls next year to be part of the change they want to see.
But our research also told us that the DA has significant potential among voters who share our values but who have not historically supported us. The reasons are complex and varied, but are essentially a function of South Africa’s history of racial division. We are determined to do whatever possible to overcome those barriers, transcend race and enable all South African who share our values to give us their support.
The re-launch is the culmination of an internal process of self-examination and assessment of how better to convey what we stand for to all the people. We have looked closely at how the DA presents itself to the electorate and how we are perceived by those who share our principles, but do not yet vote for us. On Saturday, we will reveal the outcome of that process.
Everything that we do from that point forward will be directed towards building the non-racial centre of South African politics and consolidating our democracy. As in all democracies, this process culminates when there is a peaceful change of government through the ballot box.
I look forward to sharing the result of our work of the past year with South Africa when we meet at Constitution Hill this Saturday.