Is Seremane Obama of DA?

Away from the on-off ANC succession debate, the DA is grappling with its own succession conundrum in a much less fluid, though seminal climate than its ruling adversary.

Away from the on-off ANC succession debate, the DA is grappling with its own succession conundrum in a much less fluid, though seminal climate than its ruling adversary.

The differing environments do not, however, imply the debate is any less intense in one party than in the other. Or even that the stakes are not as high either way.

Whereas the ANC is grappling with the succession issue in an adversarial climate which has even threatened party unity, there has been no indication that finding a new DA leader has been as fractious.

If there have been internal rumblings, they have been contained at lower decibels than in the ruling party.

That said, whither the DA?

The prognosis is not clear, aside from signs that, with the resolution of the leadership issue by the election of Joe Seremane, Helen Zille or Athol Trollip, the DA might discover that its problems are far from over.

It might find that even opting for a choice outside the troika - but still within party circles - the party is nowhere near resolving its leadership conundrum.

Why? The problem is that, unlike the ANC whose new leader will follow a trajectory set by his predecessors, the DA faces a fundamental challenge around its identity.

The DA is essentially a party with a political heart that remains white. This means that having a black leader as its head will be nothing more than a contradiction in terms.

Its legacy remains its political baggage, from which it must break free by reinventing itself.

It can look to Helen Zille for salvation, but she will only perpetuate the party's legacy.

Athol Trollip? Well, he will really ensure the party embraces the politics of parochialism - a Cape-based party? - with a gusto inspired by innocent earnestness.

So where to then?

The DA is in desperate need of a personality like US presidential hopeful Barack Obama to define its new high-road scenario.

That individual must not only be steeped in the South African experience, but also possess the charisma and chutzpah to boldly challenge the racial and political paradigms that still inform this country's politics.

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