Letter: ActionSA's Michelle Wasserman is wrong about IRR - News24

Nov 19, 2022
19 November 2022 - Recently ActionSA's Western Cape Provincial Chairperson, Michelle Wasserman, was given a right of reply by News24 to an article by Nicholas Woode-Smith in which he questioned what the growth of ActionSA could mean for the DA in the Western Cape.

Recently ActionSA's Western Cape Provincial ChairpersonMichelle Wasserman, was given a right of reply by News24 to an article by Nicholas Woode-Smith in which he questioned what the growth of ActionSA could mean for the DA in the Western Cape. 

Wasserman made numerous references to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) in her response to Mr Woode-Smith’s News24 piece published on 12 November.

The IRR considers this a healthy exchange of views which is part and parcel of our democratic dispensation. 

However, Wasserman incorrectly and inappropriately writes: "I would ask whose interests he is serving? A bio on the Daily Friend says that 'Nicholas Woode-Smith writes for the Free Market Foundation, and is a Council Member of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).' The IRR, of course, has become synonymous with the DA and their current leadership, using it to legitimate opinions with an obvious pro-DA bias and present them as fact."

No narrative 

The IRR doesn't deny that the Democratic Alliance has adopted a fair number of policies in recent years that accord with the IRR’s classical liberalism. The promotion of classical liberalism is the IRR's raison d’être and has been for 93 years of its existence. If the DA has been persuaded to adopt a more classically liberal approach, well and good. 

However, our opinions are our own, and if we disagree with the DA, we’ll say so. As recently as 7 November, we issued a media release criticising the DA-run Western Cape Education Department over its handling of alleged racism at Fish Hoek High School. This is not the only time the IRR has been critical of the DA.

Contrary to Wasserman's allegation we don't have a narrative on ActionSA, less so one that makes any reference to DA views. Our Daily Friend opinion portal is populated by opinions by our staff, our paid contributors and contributors who periodically submit pieces for publication without payment. 

The only views we regard as those of the IRR are those written by members of staff. It is for this reason that any other article, even those written by council members, conclude with the rider that the views of the writer do not necessarily represent the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR. We are more than happy to entertain different opinions and thus generate debate.

Even employees can write articles expressing opposing views. Provided the principles of classical liberalism are the basis for any opinion, we accept that views belong to individuals and will be respected as such.

It goes without saying that we don't have a 'standard arsenal of straw man arguments about ActionSA'. If Wasserman would like us to consider publishing arguments in favour of ActionSA’s policy positions, she is welcome to submit them to us for consideration.

Sara Gon, Head of strategic engagement at the Institute of Race Relations


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