Zille’s plan was to dis­credit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

YOUR ed­i­to­rial, “How low can you go” (November 2), does a dis­ser­vice to the role of the fourth es­tate in a de­vel­op­ing democ­racy in dis­pas­sion­ately and ac­cu­rately judg­ing events.

In at­tempt­ing to say all good is done by the DA of He­len Zille, it failed to pre­sent a clear and pre­cise anal­y­sis of the West­ern Cape, which has been di­vided and po­larised by DA poli­cies.

In­stead of ex­am­in­ing the ANC’s pro­gramme, it rushed to the con­clu­sion that ANC rule in the West­ern Cape would equate with chaos and there­fore the elec­torate can­not trust us with its vote. This stereo­typ­i­cal in­fer­ence is shock­ing and wor­ri­some, con­sid­er­ing that the ANC ex­pects fair and equal cov­er­age in the run-up to next year’s elec­tions.

We are unashamed in our con­vic­tion that any elec­tions plat­form that is cred­i­ble and seeks to unite the peo­ple of the West­ern Cape must fo­cus on unit­ing African and coloured work­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially the ru­ral and ur­ban poor; bet­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery; creat­ing jobs by part­ner­ing with busi­ness and trade unions to form a so­cial pact for growth and op­por­tu­nity for small busi­nesses, and black busi­ness more par­tic­u­larly; and build­ing pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with na­tional gov­ern- ment to grow the West­ern Cape for all its peo­ple, es­pe­cially the poor.

The events over which the ed­i­to­rial cries foul are not with­out con­text. It is clear from the use of words such as “bait­ing” and “Mafia shake­down” that the ed­i­to­rial sought to de­mol­ish the ANC. If this is any­thing to go by, then the ANC in the West­ern Cape is in for a tor­rid time at the hands of the ed­i­to­rial team in the com­ing months.

The ANC is proud of its long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of protest pol­i­tics. Our own sup­port­ers protest peace­fully in prov­inces where we gov­ern. Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 30, was no dif­fer­ent. What we do op­pose and con­demn is the use of vi­o­lence and loot­ing.

But the more fun­da­men­tal ques­tion we should all be ask­ing Premier Zille is why the DA has closed the space for peo­ple to de­bate and en­gage with MECs, heads of depart­ment and so on. Wed­nes­day’s event was a di­rect con­se­quence of non-en­gage­ment with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties by Zille’s govern­ment. Deny­ing peo­ple a plat­form will re­sult in their creat­ing their own plat­forms of de­bate and protest.

The events last Thurs­day in Saldanha, again, re­quire deeper anal­y­sis.

Na­tional govern­ment has driven the con­cept of free trade zones, in­dus­trial devel­op­ment zones (IDZs) and so on, aimed at creat­ing a mas­sive in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion cat­a­lyst for both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment.

Na­tional govern­ment has the pre­rog­a­tive to de­ter­mine the agenda and speak­ers’ list at such events. As deputy min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, I have con­stantly punted the West­ern Cape as a de­sir­able in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion. When asked by Min­is­ter (Rob) Davies to chair the launch, I rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity, not least be­cause of my un­der­stand­ing of and long as­so­ci­a­tion with the re­gion.

Equally, the Depart­ment of In­ter- na­tional Re­la­tions is a key sup­port depart­ment in the IDZ pro­gramme.

Premier Zille was in­vited, but made it her in­ten­tion to dis­credit the event from the mo­ment she set foot in the mar­quee. Her pre­pared speech was flung aside; her notes, which she left be­hind, bear tes­ti­mony to her ob­jec­tive. She only em­bar­rassed her­self. If she had main­tained her deco­rum, the event would have passed with­out in­ci­dent – but, no, Zille had to cre­ate a cri­sis to de­flect at­ten­tion from the work of na­tional govern­ment and the op­por­tu­nity it presents to the peo­ple of the West­ern Cape.

Zille claims vic­tory for all the good and blames her fail­ures on the govern­ment. This de­cep­tion might go down well with the few, but the ma­jor­ity have seen through her stunts and PR the­atrics – big on talk and thin on de­liv­ery for the poor.

We look for­ward to a ro­bust elec­tion cam­paign. We only hope this news­pa­per will rid it­self of the ti­tle of torch­bearer for Madam Zille and her vi­sion of an ex­clu­sive West­ern Cape for the priv­i­leged, mainly white, few.

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