Malema silent on EFF threat to quit coalition
We have to respect our internal processes
EFF LEADER Julius Malema uncharacteristically went to ground yesterday regarding the DA’s controversial decision to keep its former leader Helen Zille as Western Cape premier.
Malema had last week threatened to pull out of the coalition governments in the Gauteng metros, but was noncommittal when contacted for comment yesterday.
Zille’s defiant behaviour on defending her colonialism tweets had damaged the opposition party and threatened its growth, its prospects in the 2019 elections and its coalition governments.
Yesterday, the DA’s top brass announced a compromise deal between Zille and party leader Mmusi Maimane, which saw the disciplinary charges against her being dropped.
The prospect of Zille being removed has divided the party, with the Western Cape likely to have been a launch pad of a palace revolt against Maimane had she been booted out.
Maimane’s supporters were angry that Zille was undermining him.
Zille confirmed yesterday that she had been approached to form a new political formation if she was going to be fired.
The ceasefire deal has emboldened her supporters in the Western Cape and put the EFF in a tight corner.
Malema has threatened to pull out the EFF’s support for the DA in the Joburg and Tshwane metros if the party did not oust Zille as premier. The fiery leader said the DA was acting like the ANC in that it defended an individual over the country.
“They must be warned. You will remain with the Western Cape, with Johannesburg and Tshwane gone… We are (almost there with regard) to withdrawing our votes in those municipalities if you don’t suspend Helen Zille as premier,” Malema said at a media briefing.
But yesterday, Malema referred all questions to the party’s spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Ndlozi did not repeat the threats by Malema to dump the DA in the metros. “It is important to put on record that the EFF is not in any alliance or coalition with the DA; we have no relationship with them, none whatsoever.
“We do not owe them anything, in the same way we do not owe anything to the ANC gangsters,” he said. “Our faith lies in a future without both in government, which can happen in 2019,” he added.
The United Democratic Movement, which is in coalition with the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay, meanwhile, said the decision to retain Zille was an internal party matter and did not affect their relationship in the municipality.
“This does not affect us, because each party has their own constitution and internal processes,” UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said.
The DA sought to mitigate the damage Zille was causing to the party by getting her to apologise for her tweets while retaining her as premier, a move that has made her backers happy.
DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, a close Zille ally, said retaining her as premier was the best decision for the party. “It is the best compromise we could have reached. I want to applaud the leader for minimising damage and encouraging unity within the party,” he said.
Madikizela said the people who were unhappy with their decision to keep Zille as the Western Cape leader were not their voters.
“We can’t be dictated to by our opponents on how to build unity within the party. We can’t operate like that. We have to respect our internal processes and can’t allow other parties we are in coalition with to put a gun to our heads.”
Zille had argued in her submission that her removal would undermine the unity of the party. She claimed she was being punished because she is not black, raising a spectre of a racial battle in the DA if she had been fired.
Flanked by Maimane, Zille apologised unreservedly for her tweets, which stated: “For those claiming the legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc.”
She was removed from her positions in the DA federal executive, federal council and provincial council, but will remain in the party’s caucus in the Western Cape Legislature.
Zille said she was sorry for her remarks and for undermining Maimane.
Maimane said the party was not willing to buckle under pressure from the EFF. “It is important that we know that in this particular project, if we want to change anything in 2019, we have to govern well in the cities where we are in coalition.”
Ebrahim Fakir, director of programmes at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute, said it would have been difficult to remove Zille as premier. “It’s not that simple to remove her as premier. They would have had to convince their members to pass a motion of no confidence in her in the legislature or she would have had to voluntarily leave.”
Zille’s dismissal would have angered some in the party, he said, adding that the EFF “don’t have the power to dislodge them (DA) in the councils, unless they vote with the ANC”.
QUID PRO QUO: Helen Zille and DA leader Mmusi Maimane in consultation at a media briefing held in Rosebank, north of Joburg, yesterday, before their announcement.