No comment on Zille until after her hearing
DA MPLs in the Western Cape are remaining mum about the party’s intention to suspend the organisation’s former leader Helen Zille as premier, pending the outcome of her disciplinary hearing.
This as opposition parties in the legislature called for Zille to resign yesterday. The provincial ANC, EFF and UDM have also urged Zille to step down, after the DA’s federal executive decision to serve Zille with a notice of intention to suspend her from the party’s activities.
Zille has until tomorrow to give reasons why her DA membership should not be suspended.
DA acting leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said opposition parties in the Western Cape had nothing to offer except “ridiculous” statements.
“The ANC must first remove Zuma, who is implicated on countless offences. We’ve taken action against Helen Zille, she hasn’t been found guilty yet, so why should we support such a ridiculous call?” said Madikizela.
EFF provincial leader Bernard Joseph said: “The DA at last realise that Zille is an undercover racist. Everything that is done in the dark will be exposed in the light.
“The EFF is not surprised that Zille has been suspended from a party that was built on lies, promises and non-deliverance to the poorest of the poor.”
ANC acting chairperson Khaya Magaxa said: “The ANC repeats its call for the DA’s disgraced past leader Helen Zille to immediately resign as Western Cape premier. She has also humiliated the province and its people with her continuous Twitter attack on people of colour.”
Zille faces the axe for allegedly violating the DA’s social media policy after insinuating in a tweet that colonialism was not all bad.
At the weekend, party leader Mmusi Maimane announced Zille’s suspension.
Hours later, the party’s federal executive said it had written to Zille to signify its intention to temporarily suspend her from party activities until the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings.
“Zille’s social media commentary and public utterances in connection with colonialism undermined our reconciliation project, and there was no question her original tweets and subsequent justifications had damaged the party’s standing in the public mind,” Maimane said.
He added that Zille continued to damage the party with various pieces of communication that sought to undermine what the party had tried to achieve.
According to Maimane, Zille had declined to apologise to South Africans and the DA for the damage she had done.
Zille fired back, saying she had not accepted that the DA had a right to find her guilty and penalise her before the hearing even took place.
James Selfe, the chairperson of the DA’s federal executive, said Zille still had time to make representations. “There is a separation of power, so she would be able to continue with her work. The suspension would not affect her work as premier,” he said.
‘We’ve taken action against Zille, she hasn’t been found guilty yet’
HELEN Zille has thrown a “kick me out if you dare” challenge to the DA. And some observers believe she has every right to be confident.
In an often stormy political career, she has yet to lose a battle against those in the DA who have tried to take her on.
The list of fellow party opponents, and in one case, almost a fellow party opponent, who she crushed includes Athol Trollip, Wilmot James, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Mbali Ntuli and Mamphela Ramphele.
It has often been said that Zille can make and break you – and this, in fact, is what she is reported to have said to the first person she groomed for the DA leadership, Mazibuko, who quickly found herself out in the cold when she tried to be her own person.
Zille has always had an enormous following among Progressive Party-style liberals and blue-coloured people. And she gets absolute loyalty from her provincial MECs and MPLs.
In mid-March, just short of two weeks after her colonialism tweets, she marched into the Western Cape Legislature like a conquering hero. She refused to back down, and again highlighted what she believed were positive aspects of colonialism.
For this she received a standing ovation from her DA colleagues. What this suggests, based on the response of her colleagues, is that any attempt to suspend or expel her could rip the party asunder.
On Saturday, this didn’t stop the party’s federal executive from trying – until they were rebuffed by her hard-hitting fightback.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced that the Western Cape premier, who had done so much to thrust him into the party’s top position, had been suspended because of her lack of repentance for her tweets on colonialism.
Zille had refused to apologise, Maimane said.
But Zille hit back almost immediately, saying she had apologised and that her suspension was illegal. It seemed that no one else except Zille took the trouble to read what the party’s constitution says about a proposed suspension.
A person about to be suspended has to be given time to make representations – and Zille had not. The result was an embarrassing backtrack – and she was given 72 hours to make representations.
The problems in the DA have been described as a serious political test for Maimane and whether he is strong enough to survive a battle with Zille.
Professor Dirk Kotzé, of Unisa’s political science department, said this would be a big fight for Maimane. The fact that there has been a different interpretation of the rules on whether Zille had been suspended or not showed there was a fight for the soul of the DA, he said.
“It seems the catalyst for it was a difference of opinion between her and Maimane. I guess there is a punitive element in it for him to say you are causing a problem by challenging my leadership and I want to assert my authority,” Kotzé pointed out.
Maimane was caught between contrasting pressures in the party. On the one hand he wants to assert his authority and on the other he wants to satisfy Zille’s supporters. It was difficult to keep all these competing interests together, Kotzé added.
At some point Maimane would have to decide where he stands, he said.
Independent analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said Maimane would not survive if Zille did not survive. “I think the DA is at a crossroads, which might be the end of the DA as we know it,” he said. “What I mean by the end of the DA as we know it is that you will have more black people trying to advance their interests,” said Seepe.
He said Zille had been in politics far longer than Maimane, who joined the party in 2011, and had the political stamina to survive the battle.
He said that with the suspension and later backtracking by the DA, Zille was exposing Maimane.
“She was saying this is the person who stands up in Parliament and talks about the constitution, but he does not understand the constitution of his own party,” Kotze added.
Difference in interpretation of party rules on her suspension
FIGHTING BACK: Helen Zille is challenging Mmusi Maimane.