In a country short of excellence, the Democratic Alliance’s Mbali Ntuli is the definition of it. All South Africans, regardless of their political affiliation, can recognise what she represents in the political discourse: legitimate, bona-fide change.
It is hard to overlook just how impressive a political candidate she is, and the type of energy and vitality she would bring to the DA — a party that must adapt and evolve if it is to survive beyond the next election cycle.
Forged in the fires of the DA’s political machine Mbali is an impressive person: a Rhodes University graduate, a Mandela-Washington fellow, a DA Young Leader alumnus, a successful businesswoman, an honourable and inspiring politician, a mother and an empathetic futurist who has made it her life’s work to bring people together.
A politician like Mbali embodies the hopes and dreams of the majority of the citizens of this country, and has that strong youthful energy that is vital to our renewal and our democracy.
Mbali is going up against the party’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen, for the post of the DA’s federal leader. This is the choice the party now faces. For the first time in the party’s history it has a candidate who can motivate and energise the South African electorate to think beyond their fading allegiances and generational support for other political parties.
It is not just her resonance with the youth and the fearlessness of her approach to politics that is causing excitement either. If elected, she would smash through that final glass ceiling that has held for far too long in South Africa’s political history that is punctuated by patriarchy.
The question is not if the DA is brave enough to back her. It does not require any bravery. It merely requires that they objectively view the facts of their electoral prospects. So the real question is this: is the DA prepared to give up what it is now to evolve into a party that goes beyond the myopia of its politics of the day to embrace a deeper political ecology?
Every poll has shown that if the public had a voice in electing the next DA federal leader it would elect Ntuli. Will the DA find the humility to listen to the people?
Steenhuisen is an excellent opposition parliamentarian but he is not the leader to take the DA to its ultimate potential of unseating the ANC from national government.
The ANC is the weakest it has been in a generation. Public trust has all but evaporated and the political landscape is primed for a big shift in political power if the majority of South Africans can find a party that resonates their views and has a leader they can get behind.
Jaded voters are out shopping for a new political home and Mbali as leader of a changed DA may offer them one.