'Peace-loving South Africans shouldn't let extremists define us': Phumzile Van Damme

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has weighed in on extremism in SA.
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has weighed in on extremism in SA.
Image: SUPPLIED

“Any peace-loving South African who wants our country to prosper should firmly hold  and not let the loud voices of extremists define us.”

These are the words of DA MP Phumzile Van Damme, in response to a question frequently asked on social media about the DA and its stance on “extremism” in politics.  

She said the party was not standing on the far right or left on views but rather was the “moderate centre”.

She said any “peace-loving South African” should hold such a place, and not let the “loud voices of extremists define us”.

Van Damme said people don't have to like the DA to agree that “the centre must hold”.

“Extremists have been given the bullhorn to define us, and take it back we must. We’ll talk about the DA and next year’s LGE (local government elections) some other time. But today, hou vas die senter (hold the centre).”

Asked if she could guarantee that the DA was authentic and “not just window dressing”, Van Damme said she was no lackey.

“I’ve always tried to present who I am authentically on Twitter. I’m no one’s puppet. I’m where I am because of my own hard work. I owe my place in the DA to no one,” she said.

“I worked my way up - blood, sweat, burnout and tears - because I believe in the project. When I no longer believe, I will tell you. In the same [way], I’ve told you when I disagree.”

She also rubbished claims that the DA was “squarely sitting on the fence”, saying that being in the centre isn’t about picking sides in a battle of extremists.

“It is about picking SA, first and foremost - a SA where everyone feels a sense of belonging and can enjoy all the rights in our constitution.

“The centre must hold. SA must survive.”

“You think being in the centre is easy in a country where the extremists are the loudest?” Van Damme asked when another user suggested that the DA was “standing in no-man’s-land”. 

“You’ve no idea what a tall task that is, Sir. The thing is for us all that aren’t extremists to consolidate around a common purpose and values in the constitution. We don’t have to agree on everything,” she said.

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