Monday, November 27, 2006


Tony Leon has struggled to win over black voters. The leader of the main opposition party in South Africa, Tony Leon, is to step down after 13 years at the helm. The Democratic Alliance leader has said he will not be seeking re-election at his party's congress next May.
It holds 50 out of the 400 parliament seats, but it has never won over a sizeable proportion of black voters.
It is still seen as largely "white", and observers say it desperately needs a larger black membership if it is to be an effective opposition party.
Mr Leon became leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in 1994 - the year of South Africa's first non-racial elections.
The DA has gained in strength, but it still only had 12% of the vote at the last general election in 2004.
The governing African National Congress (ANC) which dominates politics has a huge 70% majority in parliament.
The DA represented the country's liberal opposition during the days of apartheid, but under Mr Leon, the DA - controversially - drew in many members of the now defunct National Party which ran the country for 46 years.
[The DA must] care as deeply about the delivery issues that effect black South Africans as we do about those that effect whites
Ryan CoetzeeDA's chief strategist

Profile: leading contenders

There is no obvious successor to Mr Leon at present, says the BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg but Joe Seremane, the current national chairman, and one of the few senior black figures in the party, has been tipped as a possible leader.
So too has Helen Zille, the mayor of Cape Town, our reporter says.
This year she was involved in a bruising political battle with the ANC for control of the city of Cape Town, which is the only major centre the DA governs.
A report drawn up by the DA's chief strategist Ryan Coetzee and published in The Star newspaper on Monday said the party needed to do two things to become a party that is attractive to South Africans of all races.
"First care as deeply about the delivery issues that effect black South Africans as we do about those that effect whites," said the document.
"Second, find a way to bridge the racial divide on identity issues."


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