ZILLE AND THE PIT­FALLS OF SO­CIAL ME­DIA

Fol­low­ing a se­ries of tweets that ‘not ev­ery­thing was bad about colo­nial­ism’, Zille has been drag­ging the party down the drain with her, writes Solani Ngob­eni

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

It is a truth uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged that He­len Zille is ex­tremely un­happy with what she terms “an African­ist or na­tion­al­ist tra­jec­tory” that she posits the DA is now fer­vently pur­su­ing. And since she is of the view that she made Mmusi Maimane, leader of the DA, she can­not coun­te­nance his go­ing astray “ide­o­log­i­cally” as it were. The DA’s dal­liance with the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters in Par­lia­ment must also be ab­hor­rent for her to watch.

Zille is treat­ing Maimane the same way she treated for­mer DA par­lia­men­tary leader Lindiwe Maz­ibuko. With Zille, it’s ei­ther you bow down be­fore her in def­er­ence or you are likely to face her wrath, espe­cially given her pa­tro­n­is­ing at­ti­tude that she made them. This at­ti­tude is per­va­sive in her aptly ti­tled mem­oirs, Not With­out a Fight, that some­how black South Africans owe her a great deal of grat­i­tude for her con­tri­bu­tion to the strug­gle and for her per­pet­u­ally ped­dled achieve­ment – her re­port­ing on Steve Biko’s death at the hands of the apartheid po­lice.

She also does not for­get to re­mind us that Umkhonto weSizwe com­bat­ants used her home in Rose­bank, in Cape Town, as a hide­out. We are con­stantly re­minded that given the fore­go­ing she can­not in all prob­a­bil­ity be racist.

It is now clear that she is con­vinced that she is not go­ing down, Not With­out a Fight. She, like the bib­li­cal Sam­son, is will­ing to take the DA house down with her. Her en­ti­tle­ment is thus blind­ing her to the fact that she is to the DA what ubaba kaDuduzane is to the ANC. She is cost­ing the DA an avalanche of po­ten­tial sup­port and vot­ers in 2019.

It is there­fore un­der­stand­able that Maimane’s frus­tra­tion boiled over, re­sult­ing in his pre­ma­turely an­nounc­ing her sus­pen­sion. Since he is be­ing ac­cused of not be­ing in charge of the party, I sup­pose he can’t wait for this al­ba­tross to be re­moved and who can blame him. Zille is yes­ter­day’s news, the DA’s fu­ture is black. The sooner Zille recog­nises this ob­vi­ous tru­ism the bet­ter for the fu­ture of the DA and South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal plu­ral­ism. Her pub­lish­ers must be ru­ing her ill-timed com­ments. Sup­pose they had 10 000 copies of her book in stock and her non­sen­si­cal tweets brought the sales of the book to a screech­ing halt? Per­haps book pub­lish­ers should con­sider their con­tracts go­ing for­ward. They might have to in­clude puni­tive clauses for au­thors who wit­tingly or un­wit­tingly ut­ter di­a­tribe that is likely to bring their name into dis­re­pute, thus neg­a­tively im­pact­ing on the po­ten­tial sales of the book. One of the ma­jor pit­falls of so­cial me­dia is that there is no mod­er­a­tion of posts. If Twit­ter had a mod­er­a­tion sys­tem, Zille, and by im­pli­ca­tion the DA, would not be in trou­ble to­day be­cause the pub­lisher or edi­tor would have ad­vised her against pub­lish­ing such di­a­tribe. McIn­tosh Polela would still have his job to­day if What­sApp had a mod­er­a­tion sys­tem. Gen­er­ally, pub­lish­ers do what so­cial me­dia does not do, which is to give au­thors or con­trib­u­tors space to cool down. So an au­thor can rant, but by the time the edi­tor or pub­lisher has read their piece, the au­thor will have come down to earth. So while many laud so­cial me­dia for its im­me­di­acy and lament print pub­lish­ing for be­ing pro­tracted, the fact re­mains that print of­fers the reader cred­i­bil­ity and va­lid­ity. Ev­ery id­iot can dis­sem­i­nate any non­sense on Twit­ter and What­sApp, but not ev­ery id­iot will be pub­lished by The Econ­o­mist. Ngob­eni is a book pub­lisher and the 2007 South African fi­nal­ist in the British Coun­cil’s In­ter­na­tional Young Pub­lisher of the Year awards pro­gramme

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