By Ashoke Ramsarup :: South Africa’s leading opposition party – Democratic Alliance (DA) – has elected John Steenhuisen as the organisation’s new leader at its Federal Congress held in the port city of Durban.
44-year-old Steenhuisen defeated the former youth leader Mbali Ntuli for the top job in the DA. More than 2 000 delegates cast their ballots to elect their new leadership for the next three years following the resignation of Mmusi Maimane last year.
Steenhuisen raked in 80 % of votes to move the party to a new level after more than 88 percent of the delegates cast their votes in the internal poll.
In his acceptance speech, Steenhuisen said there was hope on the horizon as he planned to take the opposition party in the fight for a better future for the country. The new DA leader who began his political life 21 years ago as a councillor in the eThekwini Municipality said: “The love of the country is of utmost importance as we have to weed out corruption and rid corrupt politicians.”
He said the Democratic Alliance was instrumental in drafting the country’s liberal democratic constitution and waged a lone battle against the former apartheid government.
Steenhuisen said: “Over the years the DA has grown leaps and bounds to become the voice of reason that governs cities, and municipalities as well as provinces in the country.
“The DA is a party to be reckoned with as it hopes one day be at the core of a national government that will fix and unlock the boundless potential of this country,” he stated.
Steenhuisen said one of the party’s vision was to lift 13 million people out of unemployment and 30 million people out of poverty as he put it, “a better future beckons on the horizon under the DA government that will replace state control with people power”.
He hit out at the government, highlighting problems, including the erratic electricity supply, the mismanagement of SAA, and the alleged lack of support for entrepreneurship.
Steenhuisen extended his gratitude to Mbali in the leadership race, adding it had been a tough leadership race and in doing so helped entrench a proud democratic tradition in the DA party.