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DA Smoke and mirrors: Zille is going nowhere

David Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso Branch

The Helen Zille hearing is a mere PR exercise to keep black electorates in the fold for the 2019 elections. If anything was to come out of the pending disciplinary hearing, Zille should have been suspended as the Premier of the Western Cape pending the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing.

There is much noise and euphoria from the social media, political formations and civil society organisations regarding the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) decision to prefer charges against Helen “Nontsapho” Zille over her nostalgic tweets for colonialism. Those who are wondering, the tweets read in part as follows: “For those claiming the legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport, infrastructure, piped water etc.”

Indeed, the decision to charge should be welcomed in a country like ours, where in the process of annihilating brutal colonial and apartheid practices not only were many lives were lost, the majority was subjected to destruction and constant torture of the highest order. How dare Zille romanticise about colonialism? To this end, I understand the excitement about the decision taken by the DA’s Federal Executive Committee to institute a disciplinary hearing.

However, I do not take the hearing very seriously given the fact that the DA and its leader Mmusi Maimane are Zille’s pet projects while the federal executive (the DA’s highest decision-making structure) is dominated by individuals who did not reprimand their co-founder over her politically amateurish colonialism tweet. This reminded me of the slogan coined by Steve Biko for the South African Student’s Organisation (SASO) in 1977 that “Black man you are on your own”.

Black leaders within the DA were really a lone voice over Zille’s disgraceful tweet, hence I am persuaded that this disciplinary hearing remains “smokes and mirrors” and a mere PR exercise to keep black electorates in the fold for the 2019 elections. The DA does not care about the interests of blacks. If anything was to come out of the pending disciplinary hearing, Zille should have been suspended as the Premier of the Western Cape pending the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing.

My position is emboldened by the fact that Mmusi Maimane and the chairperson of the federal executive James Selfe, confirmed their difficulties in charging the colonial apologist (Zille) during the press briefing on 2 April 2017. Maimane was at pains to convince those listening that he did not believe Zille was racist.

If we are to believe his sentiment, then it’s only logical to conclude that the outcomes of the disciplinary hearings are pre-determined, thus his noise and efforts to lodge a complaint to the DA’s legal commission which resulted in the impending hearing remain a ploy to mislead the nation that DA is intolerant to colonial and apartheid apologists. No chance – the horse has bolted.

Amid the outbreak of the public outcry over her under-estimation of the painful legacy of colonialism in South Africa among blacks, Zille continued to defend her position in an attempt to undermine the intelligence of her critics. Her popularity among white members of the DA was also evident from the standing ovation she received in the Western Cape legislature on 28 March 2017 during the debate of her divisive tweet. It remained clear that Zille had not only dared her black critics but also divided her own party along racial lines. Above all, she had not shown any sense of remorse.

Frankly, all these should have been aggravating factors for her suspension pending the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing, had the party’s federal executive been not hypocritical in a bid to manage cracks between white and black members in the party.

James Selfe, the Chairperson of the Federal Executive Committee went to the extent of lying to the nation that constitutionally they could not suspend Zille due to the fact that she was not a threat to any witness. This beacons the question, was Penny Sparrow a threat to any witness? Sparrow was suspended over her “monkey” racist repost on her Facebook page pending disciplinary hearing. These are similar offences, but the perpetrators were treated differently by virtue of their standing in the party.

The suspension of Sparrow pending the disciplinary hearing signaled the seriousness in which DA viewed her racial comments, thus the DA’s different handling of Zille remains a clear indication that her disgraceful comments were not taken seriously and she was not going anywhere. After all has been said and done, the DA should be exposed even to a political novice such as Herman Mashaba (DA Major in the City of Johannesburg) that the DA is a safe haven for colonial and apartheid apologists. You can think of many, who could not hide but express their nostalgia for the apartheid era in South Africa. Think again Mmusi and stop defending the indefensible. DM

David Vakalisa Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso Branch and he writes in his personal capacity

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