DA’S COM­PRO­MISE

Malema silent on EFF threat to quit coali­tion

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TE­BOGO MONAMA

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”.

PIC­TURE: NH­LANHLA PHILLIPS

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.

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