Six months ago, the Democratic Alliance commissioned a major research project to determine the extent of the electorate's appetite for change and to understand better the kind of change that people wanted. The results were very encouraging.
The survey showed that there are many people who support the three core principles of the DA - freedom under the Constitution, non-racialism and equality of opportunity. It showed that we share a dream for South Africa with millions of people who do not yet identify with the DA, and millions more who do.
This is why we relaunched the DA at Constitution Hill at the weekend. The relaunch is the culmination of an internal process of self-examination and assessment of how better to convey what we stand for to all the people. We have looked closely at how the DA presents itself to the electorate and how we are perceived by those who share our principles, but do not yet vote for us.
What we unveiled at the weekend is not just a new logo or a different look. It is an entirely new approach - to South Africa, to the voters, to the future. There will be a new offer; a new style of campaigning; and a new determination to transcend the racial divisions of our country's past.
But as we move forward, we will not cut ourselves adrift from our animating values or our vision for South Africa. On the contrary, our core beliefs and the success we have enjoyed to date, are the foundation for our regeneration and renewal.
We will continue to hold fast to our vision of an open opportunity society for all in which the rights and freedoms of every person are enshrined in a constitution. We will continue to defend and promote the language, culture and heritage of all people. We will always fight for a crime- and corruption-free South Africa. We will never stop championing tolerance, excellence and personal responsibility.
These are our core values. They will not change.
But from now on, the DA no longer offers opposition and nothing else. The DA is now a party of government.
We are in government in Cape Town and in many other municipalities. We aim to be in government in the Western Cape, and possibly other provinces after next year's election.
We are determined to be in government in cities and towns across South Africa in 2011. We will be part of national government in the foreseeable future.
Of course, where we are in opposition, we will always provide the critical oversight that everyone expects of us, and our country requires of us.
But our purpose is not to be an opposition party. It is to be a party of government.
From today, we offer the people of South Africa a government that really can deliver a better future. A future in which every person is free. Where everyone has access to life-changing opportunities. Where growth and prosperity are shared by all. Where every child is protected and safe. Where each and every language and culture is respected and protected.
Our new offer is reflected in the policy proposals we are currently rolling out, covering every area of public policy in South Africa today. Only the DA has a comprehensive policy alternative to the challenges our country faces. Because underlying our offer to voters is real substance - comprehensively researched, carefully considered.
Our new logo reflects our new offer. It is a morning sun rising over the rainbow nation. It represents our dream of an open opportunity society for all. It lifts our sights and our spirits. It signals hope. And it is grounded in our love for diversity.
The DA is a party that cherishes diversity. Some people believe merit and diversity have to be traded off against each other in South Africa. We do not agree. Because diversity adds strength, adds insight, adds value, to each decision we make and every initiative we take.
And so we will ensure diversity inside our party, and fight for it outside our party. It is a core value. It will not be compromised.
That is why you will see a new DA emerge from here on. More diverse, more reflective of our rich racial, linguistic and cultural heritage and more committed to providing excellence and equity in public service than ever before.
We will go forward and campaign, every day and every night. But not just for votes in an election. The weekend gathering was not an election campaign launch. It was the launch of a new vision for South Africa; a renewed determination to make the South African dream a living reality.
And so we will campaign until our country is a land of hope and opportunity, of peace and prosperity, of safety and security. For all the people.
l The writer is leader of the DA.