Cape Times

Attacking the DA’s short list a racist exercise, says Zille


THE DA has defended its list of predominan­tly white election campaign managers, saying it cannot be used as the basis to reflect on the “racist exercise” of analysing the racial compositio­n of the managers.

The party has been criticised for lacking diversity after the list circulated on social media this week.

Of the 18 election campaign managers, only two are coloured, and no black Africans, resulting in accusation­s that the party has been “catering for the interests of the white” and “white privilege”.

Opposition parties said they were not “surprised”.

Provincial ANC said the DA had confirmed what they have been saying all along, that the party was “wedded to South Africa’s apartheid”.

But DA Federal Council chairperso­n Helen Zille has defended the list.

The short list was, in any event, a tiny sample of a much longer list of over 200 DA campaign managers, she said, adding that it cannot be used as the basis to reflect on the “racist exercise” of analysing the racial compositio­n of the managers.

Zille said they did not allow anyone to categorise people on the basis of their race.

“The DA defends the Constituti­on founded on this central pillar. This means that we do not accept the right of anyone, let alone the State, to categorise people on the basis of their race, and that individual­s have the right to self-identify and to be judged by their contributi­ons, experience and qualificat­ions, rather than the colour of their skin.

“The DA applies this founding constituti­onal value in all its work. We could, for example, easily ask questions about the lack of diversity of the ANC's Top Six, the Cabinet, ANC campaign managers, candidates, mayors or ANC government­s, but we do not do so. Why not? Because their race is irrelevant to us. Only their ability to perform the functions of their office should matter. When we criticise them, it is not on the basis of their skin colour, but their performanc­e,” she said.

Zille said it was a racist and unconstitu­tional exercise to comb a list of names and try to work out the race of people on the basis of their surnames.

“It is time we stopped judging people by their race or their names and start looking at the quality of the work they produce.”

Political analyst from Xubera Institute for Research and Developmen­t Xolani Dube said those who were “alarmed” by the list do not understand the status the country is in. “They have to realise that South Africa is regressing to its conceptual state of race and class. We have to understand that currently our country is reincarnat­ing the apartheid socio-economic and power political systems and structures or I can say, it is solidifyin­g apartheid economic social and political structures.

“So seeing the issue of race re-emerging again, that testified that the minerals energy complex through Cyril's presidency has achieved the coup d'etat and that in South Africa, consequent­ly, the white dominance is solidified,” Dube said.

Another political analyst, Keith Gottschalk, said: “First impression­s of this list are that it has few blacks, few women, and not one African. After 30 years of non-racial recruitmen­t to the DA, surely this must lead to some hard strategic thinking?

“A second equally important point to this list is that the DA have prioritise­d two more paid election managers for Gauteng than for the Western Cape.

“This confirms the DA strategy of the past two elections – to go all out to try to add Gauteng to the Western Cape as provinces where they aim to win in 2021 and 2024.”

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