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