South Africa Opposition Leader Envisions 'Non-Racial' Party
The head of South Africa's main opposition party on Saturday outlined her vision for the Democratic Alliance, which she said could win the next general elections in 2014 by following an inclusive, "non-racial" party line.
"We must work tirelessly to bring together all South Africans who share the same values. People who oppose racism in all its forms. People who believe in real freedom," DA leader Helen Zille said at the opening of her party's congress near Johannesburg.
Her remarks came as the DA tries to chip away at the overwhelming majority enjoyed by the African National Congress since it put Nelson Mandela in power in 1994.
Formed that same year, the DA began as a group of whites opposed to apartheid but is now a multi-racial party that has made continuous in-roads at elections.
The DA won 17 percent of the vote in the 2009 general elections and 24 percent at last year's municipal elections. It also controls the Western Cape province whose capital is Cape Town.
Though Zille's party has often struggled to win over black voters, it scored a significant political victory earlier this month when it won the support of a former senior member of the ruling ANC.
Nosimo Balindlela said at the time that she thought DA "is the future."
Zille paid homage to the anti-apartheid leaders of the past who "laid the foundation" for a democratic South Africa but said that "honoring them through public holidays, street names and celebrations is not enough".
"We need to ensure that we fulfill the vision these leaders had for our country," she said, explaining the party was not for racists, sexists, xenophobes or homophobes.
"It is not a party for people who think that life was better under apartheid. And it is not a white party. Or a black party. Or a brown party," she said.
She also took a swipe at the ANC over corruption allegations that have dogged its senior leaders.
"Freedom means nothing if it gives politicians license to steal people's money," she said.
A report last month warned that children in Africa's biggest economy still face apartheid-like inequalities, with black children 18 times more likely to grow up poor than white kids.