South Africans organisations: DA Abroad

We spoke to Ludre Stevens, the UK chairman of DA Abroad. The investment banker, 30, told us about joining the Democratic Alliance in London and how it all works.

What is the DA Abroad?
A network of South Africans living overseas who want to contribute to South Africa: whether through activism, money, skills, business opportunities or voting overseas. How long  has it been going?  About 8 months – we have hubs with organising committees in the UK, the Netherlands, South Korea and in Australia and we’re starting hubs in a number of other places.

What are your goals?
We have five goals globally. We want to make  it easier  for South Africans living overseas to vote. We want an army of activists to create  international awareness about issues back home.  We want  to re-enchant South Africans and create a community that sends back skills, business contacts and creates a good image of South Africa. Our fourth objective is to make contact  with the international business community and our fifth is to spread the word about the Democratic Alliance (DA).

How do you fit into the DA?
We were recognised under the DA’s constitution at the DA’s Congress in Cape Town in July.

Who is joining?
Paid up DA members who also want to be involved here, South Africans who don’t officially want  to be DA members but join DA Abroad and supporters who aren’t SA citizens but support the DA.

Is social networking helpful?
It is our backbone.

What links do you have?
We have links with the Lib Dems and are building up relationships with other liberal organisations like the African Liberal Network.

What does liberalism mean?
An open society, freedoms, transparency and no cronyism.

Is the DA a negative party?
It’s your job to point out the bad things as the opposition. Now, we’re the official opposition – and the government in the Western Cape. We can show what fundamental good governance is. Helen Zille’s criticism of President Zuma and his presidency was  based on facts and events that happened. The way she was  attacked by the ANC calling her a ‘whore with a white cabinet’ – you can’t compare the two.

Why should people join?
The DA Abroad gives them the chance to give something back.

The nationalisation of the mines...and farmlands – the perception was that liberals always just said ‘No, no, no’.
We’re not just saying no...we  are saying it must be done the right way. If we get it right it will advance our economy and help to build our nation but if we get it wrong it could be Zimbabwe all over again. There is a need for the fair distribution of assets for everybody in South Africa through an open, transparent process.

Where is your support?
The DA is doing very well in the Western Cape – and now there’s a merger with Patricia de Lille’s Independent Democrats.

Is there  growing black support?
The DA is fundamentally a non- racial organisation so I haven’t got the actual numbers – but there  are now more  black members than white  members. That perception has to change too...

Head to the group's website if you are interested. It's also got a facebook presence.

ANC Abroad is more of an informal organisation at present, but can also be found on facebook.