Sus­pen­sion of Zille DA fu­els the fire


THE DA’s sus­pen­sion of its for­mer leader, He­len Zille, over her colo­nial tweets has plunged the party into a tail­spin over her fu­ture as West­ern Cape premier.

Yes­ter­day, the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion party’s coali­tion part­ner in the cru­cial Gaut­eng met­ros, the EFF, led the charge in re­ject­ing the de­ci­sion to sus­pend her only from party ac­tiv­i­ties and not from her po­si­tion.

The party’s top brass yes­ter­day passed the de­ci­sion on her fate amid mount­ing pressure that Zille should re­lin­quish her pow­er­ful post in the only prov­ince the party gov­erns.

Last night, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts also warned of more da­m­age to the party in the run-up to 2019 if the DA does not dis­lodge Zille. This as her sup­port­ers in the West­ern Cape reaf­firmed their sup­port for her.

The EFF said the sus­pen­sion only from party ac­tiv­i­ties was “play­ful” and showed that the DA cared more about it­self than South Africans. “If her dis­ci­plinary process means it is im­por­tant that she does not par­tic­i­pate in DA ac­tiv­i­ties, why is this not also the case with gov­ern­ment?” the EFF asked.

“What makes DA de­ci­sion-mak­ing struc­tures more im­por­tant than the peo­ple’s gov­ern­ment struc­tures that she pre­sides over as premier?”

Zille had un­til Tuesday to ex­plain to the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive (Fedex) why she should not be sus­pended. Fedex chair­per­son James Selfe said it was de­cided by an “over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity” to of­fi­cially sus­pend Zille un­til such time as her dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, start­ing to­mor­row, was con­cluded.

The Fedex agreed that Zille’s tweets on colo­nial­ism “breaks down pub­lic trust, stunts South Africa’s rec­on­cil­i­a­tion im­per­a­tive, and un­der­mines our po­lit­i­cal pro­ject”.

How­ever, in her sub­mis­sions to the Fedex, Zille re­mained de­fi­ant, say­ing it was clear from DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s an­nounce­ment on her sus­pen­sion on Satur­day that he had pre­judged her. “This ini­tial ma­te­rial fail­ure to com­ply with due process has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions. The leader (Maimane) has, in a pub­lic state­ment, made it clear that he wants me sus­pended and has al­ready de­cided to sus­pend me,” she said.

“This puts the Fedex in an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion to make an ob­jec­tive de­ter­mi­na­tion, what­ever the mer­its of my ar­gu­ments against sus­pen­sion. In any event, the Fedex has equally com­pro­mised it­self on this de­ci­sion,” Zille said in her sub­mis­sion.

When con­tacted for com­ment last night, Selfe would not be drawn on the finer de­tails of the de­ci­sion to sus­pend Zille.

Asked what would hap­pen to Zille as she was a DA de­ployee in the West­ern Cape gov­ern­ment, Selfe said: “We don’t do de­ploy­ments. We nom­i­nate a per­son we want to serve as a premier and the vot­ers of West­ern Cape elect the per­son. That is why her (Zille) po­si­tion as premier re­mains un­af­fected.”

Selfe re­ferred ques­tions to the Fed­eral Le­gal Com­mis­sion (FLC) in the event she is found guilty of bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute.

The FLC, al­though in­de­pen­dent, rec­om­mends to the Fedex and can have their de­ci­sions over­turned, as was the case with for­mer youth leader Mbali Ntuli. The body found there was no case against her but the Fedex pro­ceeded to charge Ntuli over lik­ing a Face­book post that called Zille a racist.

DA West­ern Cape act­ing leader Bonginkosi Madik­izela, a staunch Zille sup­porter, said: “She’s still a mem­ber of the party, the premier and still our cau­cus leader. She is only sus­pended from par­tak­ing in party ac­tiv­i­ties such as at­tend­ing meet­ings.”

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Ralph Mathekga said the DA was be­ing in­con­sis­tent.

“In our elec­toral sys­tem, we don’t di­rectly vote for the premier. Peo­ple voted for the DA and she car­ries the party’s man­date,” he said.

“If the party says she is sus­pended from party po­lit­i­cal du­ties but stays on as premier, what does that mean? Does that mean she is not good enough for the party but good for the coun­try? Are they then say­ing they are leav­ing it to mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture to pass a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against her?”

Nel­son Man­dela Metropoli­tan Uni­ver­sity po­lit­i­cal science lec­turer and PhD can­di­date Ongama Mtimka said while Zille may be right about rais­ing ques­tions about the due process fol­lowed “that shows she cares more about her sur­vival than she does about the party and its prospects go­ing into 2019”.

Mean­while, Mo­gale City DA mayor Michael Holen­stein was re­moved af­ter a se­cret bal­lot on a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence tabled against him by ANC coun­cil­lors yes­ter­day.

The ANC lost con­trol of the West Rand mu­nic­i­pal­ity fol­low­ing the elec­tions last year.

It had re­port­edly ac­cused the DA of be­ing hyp­ocrites for its ear­lier failed at­tempt to op­pose the no con­fi­dence mo­tion against Holen­stein through se­cret bal­lot.

The DA wants the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in Par­lia­ment to be con­ducted through a se­cret bal­lot.

DE­FI­ANT: He­len Zille

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