DA ABANDONS ITS LIBERAL TRADITIONS
Molebatsi Masedi is a Polokwane, Limpopo based proponent of radical socio-economic transformation. Tweeter: @MolebatsiMasedi
WITH the expulsion of Patricia De Lille, the DA threw out of the window the liberal traditions of live and let live. More so at the time when it is trying to project itself as the rightful heir to the Mandela legacy of inclusivity and openness.
For years now, the party has tried to suppress and manage the racial pressure cooker that has perennially threatened to explode at the slightest provocation. What has helped the DA’s pretences of racial harmony and tolerance has been its victims dying in silence without taking the party head on for its intolerance of dissent and independence. And because it is an opposition to the ANC, the media and commentators never seriously took it to task on its short comings.
Then along came De Lille, a very ambitious and stubborn woman. She was baptised in the crucible of pre-1990 trade union struggles which took her to the ultra-radical PAC and its one settler one bullet rhetoric, and its one time wish to drive white people into the sea. It was in the PAC-aligned NACTU that she learnt her Pan Africanist politics.
It was because she couldn’t brook the lethargy of the PAC leadership that led her cutting herself loose and later forming her own party which played into the sensibilities of the Coloured communities in the Western Cape, and elsewhere in the country. She was popular enough to earn a seat for herself in the National Assembly.
The DA saw in De Lille a Trojan horse to sway the critical coloured vote in its favour in the Western Cape in particular. They immediately swept her off her fit and made her surrender her party to the DA. At the time she was feted by her new comrades. Former DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko’s political kudos was on the rise and she gave the ANCYL then president Julius Malema a serious run for his money.
Zille, De Lille and Mazibuko presented a façade of a formidable force to usher in the DA rule of the country, municipality by municipality and province by province. At least on the face of it, it appeared to be a winning combination of super women. No sooner were posters of the trio plastered on every lamp pole in the republic that wheels came off.
Mazibuko left the country in a huff and puff, though under the guise of taking a once in a life time chance to study at the prestigious Oxford University in England. On completion of her studies she would be returned to her original position in the National Assembly, if not a higher one. She was the future as the then DA chief Helen Zille liked to say.
She did return, but only to the country. Without an explanation she melted into the maelstrom of everyday life. She would never return to the DA, her fate was sealed outside the party.
Then along came Dr Mamphela Ramphele, another sheep to the DA slaughter. She had a one night stand with the DA which ended in acrimony. De Lille, recently kicked out of the party, became one in many victims of the party’s intolerant streak.
Contrary to claims to the liberal traditions of live and let live, and universal rights of man, the DA has become the haven of right wingers. All those right wingers who woke up one morning to political homelessness after the expedient demise of the New National Party, Conservative Party, Herstigte Nasionale Party and Afrikaanse Weerstaan Beweging found accommodation in the DA. From this moment, right wing backwardness found expression and relevance in the party.
Of course the DA woke up to the reality that the majority black people rule by their sheer force of numbers. This realisation drove the party to majority black areas, where it would fish in the same waters as the ANC whose home turf these areas were.
Over time, the DA made significantly serious inroads in black communities. This growth saw the party displace the alliance of the ANC and the progressive component of the defunct New National Party led by Martinus Van Schalkwyk in the city of Cape Town and eventually the Western Cape Province itself.
Out of anger against the ANC Malema, the leader of the EFF, handed the DA the biggest victory ever by going into a coalition with it in the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. The coalitions in these three metros wrested power from the ANC.
The Jacob Zuma decade in government and the ANC was ammunition to the DA and it milked it to the maximum benefit. With Zuma still at the helm after surviving many motions of no confidence, the DA was left salivating over the prospects of an opposition coalition wresting power away from the ANC in the 2019 national and provincial elections.
Just when the DA saw power in sight, all the prospects evaporated one after the other in rapid succession. Zuma lost the ANC 54th national conference when Cyril Ramaphosa beat Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to the presidency of the party. Ramaphosa would later be elected president of the country.
Zuma’s exit and Ramaphosa’s grandiose entry and his universal acceptance by the country and the world, including the much feared rating agencies, cost the DA an electoral trump card. From Ramaphosa’s advent, the DA would have to sweat to retain its support, not even mentioning expanding its electoral base.
Just when the DA was on the back foot, it picked up an unwinnable fight with De Lille, the Cape Town mayor, who gifted them the coloured vote which won it the city. As things stand now De Lille and the DA have reached the point of no return, they are irreconcilable. No wonder the rumour mill is abuzz that De Lille has been in talks with the ANC with the aim to hitch a ride with the ruling party in return for a lucrative diplomatic posting to Washington.
To compound matters, former ANC premier of the Eastern Cape, Nosima Balindlela, has resigned from the DA and has reportedly returned to her original political home. She had been used to shore up the DA in the province. Obviously her support will follow her lead to the ANC. There are many prominent black leaders whose flirting with the DA was short-lived. There are many disgruntled black members of the party who will leave the party any time.When De Lillie leaves the DA, she will open the sluice gates from the party to wherever she ends up.
The big lesson of the De Lille and DA war, is that it has revealed the party’s fake liberalism. It marks the abandonment of its founding liberal traditions of freedom and equality. There’s no freedom and equality in the party, not anymore. De Lille learnt the hard and painful way, that her new home is the torchbearer of the legacy of Hendrik Verwoerd and other apartheid relics.
Soon De Lille will be out on the streets, hustling for a new party and regretting ever believing in DA’s false liberalism. A good lesson for her and other politicians, who follow the lure of money and power, instead of their conscience.