08/04/2018 06:53 SAST | Updated 08/04/2018 06:53 SAST

DA Entrenches 'No Quotas' Clause In Its Constitution

The party decided not to enforce 'formulas' to ensure diversity in its own ranks.

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A supporter of South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party is pictured wearing a mask featuring DA's leader Mmusi Maimane during a party conference on April 7, 2018 in Pretoria. Main opposition Democratic Alliance holds conference amid spat with a former coalition partner and surge in support for ruling African National Congress (ANC). / AFP PHOTO / GULSHAN KHAN (Photo credit should read GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic Alliance has rejected replicating a quota system in its ranks during a discussion on Constitutional amendments at its federal congress in Tshwane.

The party started debating the first of 105 amendment suggestions on Saturday, proposed by leader Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane wanted diversity to be added as the party's fourth pillar, along with freedom, fairness, and opportunity, and to "replicate diversity in its own ranks".

The amendment sparked heated debate in the run-up to the conference, with some, including MPs Gavin Davis and Michael Cardo, rejecting diversity on the basis of race and gender, arguing for diversity of thought.

On Saturday, delegates were told that an amendment was made at the outgoing federal council's last meeting the night before on Friday, to change the wording of Maimane's suggestion.

Rather than "replicate" diversity in its ranks, it would rather "promote and advance" diversity in its ranks.

More importantly, an extra point was added to reject "rigid formulae or quotas" when promoting diversity, which would sit under section 1.3 - a different section - of the DA's Constitution.

This was proposed by DA MPL in Gauteng Makashule Gana, and justified by Cardo on the stage, who argued that the party needed to reject appointments on the basis of race or gender.

There was a smattering of applause when Cardo justified the need for the rejection of quotas.

Delegates ultimately voted for both proposals, meaning Maimane's diversity amendment passed, but so did the clause rejecting a rigid quota system in the party.

Later in the debate, some delegates raised the issue that amendment suggestions were changed overnight by the federal council. Congress was meant to be the highest decision-making body in the party, they argued.

Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela explained that, for the sake of practicality, there was nothing wrong with the federal council making suggestions, as it was the highest decision-making body in between conferences.

However, Congress had the final say during a congress, and it was up to delegates, he said to applause.

The amendment suggestions continued on Saturday.

The full diversity principle under section 1.2 reads:

"South Africa is a richly diverse society. Though our people come from different origins, worship in different ways and have different cultures and customs, we are all unique individuals;

"Diversity is one of South Africa's greatest assets. The Party celebrates diversity, and recognises the right of each individual to be who they want to be, from domination by others;

"The Party solemnly subscribes to the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa which recognises the injustices of the past, and affirms that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity;

"The Party will continue to take active steps to promote and advance diversity in its own ranks."

The rejection of quotas, under section 1.3.2, reads:

"...the rejection of unfair discrimination on any grounds and the redress of past discrimination; without recourse to rigid formulae or quotas." -- News24Wire