Fac­tions in DA gear up for Zille bat­tle

CityPress - - News - S’THEM­BILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

He­len Zil­lle’s sus­pen­sion from the DA has thwarted ru­moured am­bi­tions of her run­ning for of­fice in the party as it pre­pares for its provin­cial and na­tional con­gresses.

In­sid­ers have told City Press that there was a “strong in­di­ca­tion” that the for­mer leader wanted to run for the po­si­tion of West­ern Cape leader at the provin­cial congress come the end of this year, or even na­tion­ally next year.

“He­len is adamant that she is right and, should we not fol­low pro­ce­dure, she will take this mat­ter to court. We have done the best that we can within le­gal frame­works,” an in­sider said.

“The sus­pen­sion is a warning shot to her that we are still in con­trol and Mmusi [Maimane, DA leader] is tired of be­ing seen as not tak­ing ac­tion when it [was] the pro­cesses and He­len her­self hold­ing him back from do­ing what he wants to do, which is to fire her. There is no dif­fer­ence be­tween what she is do­ing to the DA and what [Pres­i­dent Ja­cob] Zuma is do­ing to [the ANC] at this stage.”

Maimane an­nounced yes­ter­day that Zille had been sus­pended from all party ac­tiv­i­ties, but that she would re­main in her po­si­tion as premier of the West­ern Cape.

How­ever, Zille was quick to hit back on Twit­ter, say­ing that her sus­pen­sion did not “com­ply with the re­quire­ments of sec­tion 3.6.3 of the DA’s own fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion, which re­quires that I be given time to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions on the mat­ter”.

She added that chair­per­son of the ex­ec­u­tive, James Selfe – who was ab­sent from the an­nounce­ment of her sus­pen­sion – had in­formed her that she had un­til June 6 to make those rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­fore her sus­pen­sion be­came op­er­a­tive.

In a re­sponse to a text mes­sage from City Press, Selfe con­firmed that Zille’s ver­sion of events was ac­cu­rate and that she had been served with a no­tice of sus­pen­sion.

Shortly af­ter, the DA re­leased a state­ment say­ing that Zille had in fact been given 72 hours to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions, but mem­bers of the fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive told City Press that the no­tice was a mere tech­ni­cal­ity as the meet­ing had al­ready re­solved to sus­pend her.

Maimane had said in his state­ment that he and Zille had dif­fer­ent ideas as to how the DA needed to make its mark in 2019 and be­yond.

“Ms Zille’s so­cial me­dia com­men­tary and pub­lic ut­ter­ances in con­nec­tion with colo­nial­ism un­der­mine our reconciliation project.

“There is no ques­tion that Ms Zille’s orig­i­nal tweets and sub­se­quent jus­ti­fi­ca­tions have dam­aged our stand­ing in the pub­lic mind,” he said.

The op­po­si­tion party leader also said that he had given Zille an op­por­tu­nity to apol­o­gise un­re­servedly for her tweets and sub­se­quent de­fence of them, but she had de­clined to do so.

It is un­der­stood that the move against Zille has deep­ened di­vi­sions in the party with fac­tions gear­ing up for bat­tle and ral­ly­ing be­hind ei­ther Maimane or Zille. Mem­bers of the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive told City Press that re­mov­ing Zille from gov­ern­ment was not an op­tion as the party’s con­sti­tu­tion for­bade them from do­ing so. “We had a de­bate about whether she should be sus­pended as premier. In terms of the law, a sit­ting premier can only be re­moved ei­ther through a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence or by a ter­mi­na­tion of con­tract by the po­lit­i­cal party. “None of this can be done un­til her guilt has been es­tab­lished by the [dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee]. We can’t in­struct our mem­bers to ta­ble a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence be­cause we have not fi­nalised the mat­ter in­ter­nally and we can’t ter­mi­nate for the same rea­son,” a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive said. The same mem­ber said that Zille was on a ram­page do­ing se­ri­ous dam­age to the party. “She can see she is dam­ag­ing the party, she could have had a grace­ful exit, but she wants to fight. She wasn’t sus­pended ini­tially be­cause she hadn’t con­ducted her­self in the way that she has since. “Look at her Twit­ter time­line and all of the opin­ion pieces. She has stood her ground and is re­fus­ing any at­tempt at me­di­a­tion. We were left with no op­tion but to sus­pend.” Last week City Press re­ported that the DA’s in­ter­nal polling in­di­cated that, since Zille’s tweets, the party had shown a down­ward trend in sup­port. “She started the 2019 project, but now, be­cause she is not the one lead­ing it – and maybe she thought she could con­trol Mmusi and she now re­alises that she can’t – it is a prob­lem. “We are try­ing to look to 2019 to con­vince peo­ple that we are not a white party,” an in­sider said. How­ever, an­other provin­cial leader cau­tioned that the sus­pen­sion would in fact give Zille am­mu­ni­tion when mak­ing her case. “It is a mis­take to sus­pend He­len. “You may re­mem­ber that when Selfe was asked why she had not been sus­pended, he said that you couldn’t sus­pend peo­ple if you [were cer­tain] they wouldn’t in­ter­fere with wit­nesses. “Now they are sus­pend­ing her and she will have a great case for her­self, be­cause why is she be­ing sus­pended if she has not in­ter­fered with any­one?”


DE­FI­ANT He­len Zille

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