The Democratic Alliance (DA) says its virtual policy conference to be held this weekend is historic. The conference was initially scheduled to be held in April 2020, however, it was postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Two-hundred delegates are expected to attend, with discussions focusing on the party’s values and principles as well as economic justice among other things.
On Friday, DA’s interim Federal Chairperson, Ivan Meyer, briefed journalists on preparations for the conference.
‘The Democratic Alliance will again make history by conducting its virtual policy conference and the policy conference is a very important phase as we prepare for two conferences, one for the local government elections and the election for 2024. But nothing precludes us to have some further subsequent policy discussions so we are looking forward to these processes that will unfold tomorrow. This is one of the widest consultative processes that the DA ever had.”
Meyer says the DA has covered all its bases to ensure that its virtual conference goes without a hitch.
He says all potential logistical and technical risks have been considered.
“We have done an audit of the technical platform capability as well as venue and data connectivity. We also gave some Zoom training and we also did a test on the virtual platform for this policy conference in addition for those venues who may be having technical problems, we have some generators on standby to assist those particular people. We have done an extensive audit about all those challenges so that we can have mitigation strategies in that regard.”
The DA’s head of policy Gwen Ngwenya says the party sought to solicit a wide range of comments and proposals ahead of the conference. She says this was not confined to just party members, but also ordinary citizens across all sections of society.
Besides physical consultation with people across the country prior to the lockdown, she says the DA has received input through its online policy portal.
“On the portal for example you had an opportunity to comment but then at the end of all the portal documents, it said is there any other comment? So you could put in anything else, your own kind of blue-sky thinking on values and principles or on economic exclusion so I think it was fairly open in that sense. Also, it was open in that there were all of these physical consultations when we could still have them and I think they were wide-ranging in what anyone could put forward.”
The conference happens as the party is experiencing turbulence. This week there was the resignation of long-time Gauteng leader John Moodey and several other provincial leaders face charges of misconduct for an alleged sex-for-jobs conspiracy against senior Parliamentarian, Mike Waters.
Meyer is certain that these tensions will not spill over into the conference.
“We don’t expect any virtual walkouts from our meeting because in the DA we encourage open debate. We are a liberal party. People express their views and we discuss them. We always believe that people should not raise their voices but raise their arguments so we don’t expect such things. We are a disciplined organisation and certainly, we will continue to have a very successful policy conference this weekend”