Zille’s de­fi­ance of her party leader hurts DA and SA

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - BUYILE SANGOLEKHAYA MATI­WANE

WESTERN Cape Pre­mier He­len Zille is a li­a­bil­ity not only to the DA, but she is also do­ing dam­age to South Africa’s frag­ile democ­racy.

A damn­ing in­dict­ment in any­one’s book. And more so as it came from party leader Mmusi Maimane, clearly in­tent on rid­ding the party of the arch fan of colo­nial­ism.

Let’s re­mind our­selves what Maimane said over the week­end: “It has be­come quite ev­i­dent that He­len Zille and I hold fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes about the mis­sion the DA needs to ac­com­plish in 2019, and the goals and pri­or­i­ties that flow from this.

“Ms Zille’s so­cial me­dia com­men­tary and pub­lic ut­ter­ances in connection with colo­nial­ism un­der­mine our rec­on­cil­i­a­tion project. There is no ques­tion that Zille’s orig­i­nal tweets and sub­se­quent jus­ti­fi­ca­tions have dam­aged our stand­ing in the pub­lic mind. We live in a frag­ile democ­racy, which means our pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives must, at all times be sen­si­tive to the le­git­i­mate anger that peo­ple still feel about our past and its legacy.

“As the leader of the party, it is up to me to re­build pub­lic trust. In this re­gard, I asked Ms Zille to ten­der an un­re­served apol­ogy to both South Africa and the DA for the dam­age she has done. Un­for­tu­nately, she de­clined.

“In this pe­riod, Ms Zille has con­tin­ued to dam­age the party with var­i­ous pieces of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that seek to un­der­mine what we are try­ing to achieve.”

But Zille will not budge. Nei­ther her per­son­al­ity nor her pol­i­tics will al­low her to take in­struc­tions from the party leader, a black per­son. Her sense of priv­i­lege runs deep.

Her bla­tant dis­re­gard for a di­rec­tive from her leader as well as her party’s high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body dis­plays a magnificent sense that she feels that she is un­touch­able and big­ger than the party.

She is clearly un­fit to con­tinue as pre­mier of the Western Cape, and the party’s as­ser­tion that it has no ju­ris­dic­tion here is laugh­able. If the party sus­pends her, she ceases to rep­re­sent any party, so how can she re­main in her post in a DA-led ad­min­is­tra­tion?

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Ralph Mathekga is quoted as say­ing “Zille had shown no re­morse fol­low­ing the tweets and no re­spect for the lead­er­ship of the party by con­tin­u­ing to take to the pub­lic do­main her views, hence the DA needed to take a clear po­si­tion on her”.

He also ques­tioned the DA’s de­ci­sion not to strip Zille of the Western Cape premier­ship.

“If they are sus­pend­ing her from the party, why are they not ex­tend­ing that to her lead­er­ship role in the Western Cape gov­ern­ment? Which is big­ger than the other? That’s a twist we find hard to un­der­stand,” Mathekga said.

Zille re­mains un­bowed, though, declar­ing that the DA “has no right to sus­pend me”. Her open de­fi­ance of Maimane and of the DA’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive will not sit well with the black lead­er­ship within the DA, who have his­tor­i­cally been pit­ted against the neo-lib­eral power base within the party of which Zille is em­phat­i­cally a key part of.

Her his­tory of a bla­tantly anti-poor agenda is a mat­ter of pub­lic record. Her ut­ter­ances of peo­ple from the East­ern Cape com­ing to set­tle in the Western Cape are an ex­am­ple of her skewed world-view.

Unashamedly la­belling fel­low coun­try­men as “eco­nomic refugees” smacks of colo­nial mas­ter­dom at its finest.

And her ruth­less­ness in deal­ing with those who ei­ther op­pose her views or try to be their own per­son within the party – ask former DA par­lia­men­tary leader Lindiwe Maz­ibuko of the wrath she en­dured when she at­tempted to cut the Zille apron strings.

Black party in­sid­ers have for a while now de­cried their be­ing un­der­mined by a largely white es­tab­lish­ment ca­bal within the DA that con­tin­ues to call the shots and whose agenda has not changed since be­fore democ­racy.

And Zille is the nexus around which this power base con­tin­ues to fo­ment their neo-lib­eral ide­olo­gies.

Time and time again her ad­min­is­tra­tion have shown their anti-poor hand – the lat­est ex­am­ple is the Tafel­berg school site con­tro­versy. She must go. Her leader wants her to go. And those con­cerned about the dam­age she is do­ing to the party’s pub­lic im­age want her to go. All in­di­ca­tions are that she won’t. If Maimane is to ful­fil the hype around his so-called Obama-es­que po­ten­tia, he has to stand firm and move on Zille.

She is clearly un­fit to con­tinue as pre­mier of the Western Cape

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