We're not all white

Bryan Rostron's account of the recent local government election in South Africa ("They cling on, by their fingernails", 18 December) was a mixture of propaganda and lies about the Democratic Alliance.

Rostron misrepresents the antecedents of the DA by stating that the union is between the old Democratic Party of Helen Suzman and the National Party of P W Botha. He seems to be unaware that Botha disappeared from the scene more than a decade ago, that he was succeeded by F W de Klerk, who received the Nobel Prize for the work that he and Nelson Mandela did in bringing about a new democratic South Africa, and that the post-apartheid National Party thereafter renewed itself by becoming the New National Party under a new young leader, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

In the local government election, the DA increased its share of the vote to 22.5 per cent, compared with the 17 per cent scored by its constituent parties in the general election in 1999. Our whole campaign was inclusive and our slogan, used on millions of posters and on tens of millions of pamphlets, was "For all South Africans". More than half the candidates nominated by the DA were not white, and we were represented at virtually every one of the 14,000 voting districts, several thousand of which had not a single white voter.

In the previous election, we received a derisory number of votes in black areas. This time, we became the party of second choice, far out-polling all the traditionally black parties, except the ANC, in most black areas. In addition, we are now the majority party among Indian South Africans, as well as the choice of the overwhelming number of whites. In quite a few white areas such as Pretoria and Vereeniging, white voters elected black DA councillors to represent them in largely white wards.

Douglas Gibson MP
Johannesburg

This article first appeared in the 15 January 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Dotcoms will rise again