South Africa’s Democratic Alliance
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 15th November, 2010
The Liberal International Executive Committee that has ended in Cape Town was hosted by South Africa’s Democratic Alliance — the country’s Liberal force that has had even more transmutations and name changes than Britain’s Liberal Democrats. I’ve been following the South African Liberals’ fortunes since the days of Alan Paton and the termination of the old Liberal Party because it was multiracial. For years, the late Helen Suzman was the sole voice of reason in the apartheid era’s whites-only parliament and I was pleased to meet her when I was a young man (before one of my own books was banned and it was deemed wiser I stay out of the country). At the LI Executive at the weekend, it was good to see Colin Eglin — a former party leader, now quite advanced in years — chairing an excellent session in the Old Parliament Chamber, at which some of the Democratc Alliance’s bright talents (of all racial groups) spoke about their role both in government (in the Western Cape Province, which the DA controls, as well as the city of Cape Town) and in opposition in the federal parliament. These days, though, the party has 67 members of parliament, making it the official opposition to the ANC-led government and it is keeping up the good fight in favour of human rights, genuine democracy and against coruption. Its impressive leader is former journalist Helen Zille, who is Premier of the Western Cape. She hosted a reception for the LI Executive and African Liberal Network delegates in the grounds of her official residence on Saturday evening — a delightful occasion, despite the chilly weather that had even our hostess sniffling.