DM168 Tongue In Cheek
The Zoom leaks: Helen Zille goes for broke
Black economic empowerment, cadre deployment, Fees Must Fall, Black Lives Matter ... As far as former Cape Town mayor and statesperson Helen ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ Zille is concerned, it’s all bad – and it’s all damned Wokeness.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
It’s April 2021. Helen Zille is having a Zoom meeting with her marketing adviser, who is anonymous because we don’t want to be sued by Takealot. The dialogue reproduced here is taken from the Zoom meeting, edited so that Zille doesn’t come across as a complete raving right-wing loony.
Marketing adviser: Hi, Helen. May I call you Helen?
Zille: Sure. I’m an egalitarian. And a meritocrat. So you don’t have to call me Honourable Madam or anything. Helen will do.
Marketing adviser: Great, thanks. You can call me [Anonymous].
Zille: Thanks, [Anonymous]. I’m glad they sent me a white male. But you do look rather young?
Marketing adviser: I’m 36. Is that a problem?
Zille: No, not really … I just don’t want to have to get all intergenerational on you.
Marketing adviser: Ha, ha! No problem. I’m very into intergenerational. I respect my elders a lot, especially if they are formerly active politicians now kicked upstairs to some token leadership post.
Zille: Thank you for that. Let’s get down to it, shall we? Did you read my book, #Stay Woke, Go Broke?
Marketing adviser: Er … no, sorry. It crashed my Kindle.
Zille: Try one more time, and if it still doesn’t work we’ll cry “Cancel culture!” Maybe we’ll sue Kindle.
Marketing adviser: Okay, good. That will get you plenty of publicity. Now I see it’s self-published. Do we have to prepare for any blowback on that? Like no proper publisher in South Africa would touch it?
Zille: Yeah, well, we won’t say anything about that. I make more money per copy this way, anyway. But if it comes up in the course of my book tour, we’ll cry “Cancel culture!” And, of course, we blame the ANC. Remember: always blame the ANC.
Marketing adviser: Right. So your book is about how all those “woke” young people (can you hear the inverted commas in my voice?) are going to ruin SA’s economy?
Zille: Something like that. Basically, “woke” is anything that offends my liberal white middle-class values. My argument is that those “wokes” are just ruining themselves, because if they carry on like this they won’t get a good liberal-colonial education and they’ll be unprepared for life in the neocolony. They won’t get jobs. They won’t join the elite. I think I footnoted Achille Mbembe on that, just to show how broad-minded I am. And, by the way, I’m not sure I could hear the inverted commas in your voice when you said “whiteness” and “white privilege”. Please be careful there. We don’t want to legitimise those terms. In fact, we want to delegitimise them. So make sure you say them with double quotes in your voice. Even quotes within quotes.
Marketing adviser: Okay. I see. And you’re saying they got all their ideas about “lived experience”, “whiteness”, “white privilege”, etc, from the US?
Zille: Yes. That’s correct. They’ve never had an original idea in their lives. And all that Cultural Marxism comes straight from Europe. In fact, it’s a colonial import. They’ve colonised their own minds with far-left postmodern European theory.
Marketing adviser: But what if someone argues that you’re just importing American ideological conflict into South Africa? All this backlash against the social justice warriors and so on?
Zille: Well, [Anonymous], a great deal of that has already been imported. Think of all those religious platteland tannies who screech “Paedophile!” every time they see a picture of Joe Biden. I’m just importing a more liberally acceptable version of that (you could say I’ve “whitewashed” it, ha ha) and applying it to South Africa’s social justice warriors. We’ve got to pick our target here. And, besides, I think cultural imports from the West are generally a good idea. Don’t you remember what I tweeted about the benefits of colonialism?
Marketing adviser: Yes, sorry, my mistake. I’m just trying to prepare for any backlash against your book. You’re going to be defending yourself on a number of fronts …
Zille: Of course! The assault on “whiteness” is everywhere! Poor, innocent whiteness, being besmirched! I fully expect those woke warriors to be burning me in effigy any day now. And, again, our best defence is to cry “Cancel culture!”
Marketing adviser: Okay. Moving on, let’s look at the visual marketing strategy. Now the cover of your book is plain black, with some broken glass, so we echo that theme, right?
Zille: Correct. I’m thinking something from the Fees Must Fall so-called movement, maybe? UCT students burning paintings?
Marketing adviser: Okay, we can look at that. How about something from the Black Lives Matter protests in the States? There are a lot of really scary pics from those protests, and we can ignore the fact that they were protesting against police brutality, which I imagine you do not endorse.
Zille: No, in South Africa we just call it black-on-black violence. But, yes, that’s a really good idea.
It will spark fear in our white readers – you know, they’re coming to steal all your stuff and burn down your house, that kind of thing. Can we find a pic where the protesters look really bestial?
Marketing adviser: Yes, sure. Have a look at this … I’m just switching to screen shot …
Zille: Yes! That’s great. The gasmask is perfect. Totally dehumanising. It strikes just the right note of “swart gevaar” [black threat]. We’re not saying “swart gevaar”, note, but we want it hovering in the background. Strongly. Fear sells, you know.
Marketing adviser: Yes, it sure does. That should get you at least 40 voters back from the Vryheidsfront.
Zille: Yes! Those who can read – 40, 50 at most. It really works – thanks very much, [Anonymous].
Marketing adviser: Perfect. One last question: can we perhaps characterise your take on all this as “alt-right”?
Zille: Er … No, let’s say more “shift-option-right”.
Marketing adviser: Sure, great. Done.
Zille: Good work, [Anonymous]. DM168
Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.
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