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Fear of Cyril Ramaphosa’s growing resonance with voters sparks DA panic


Faiez Jacobs is an ANC Member of Parliament for Greater Athlone and whip for the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development. He is visiting Germany for a five-day parliamentary exchange programme with fellow MPs from the ANC, the DA and the EFF.

FEAR of Cyril Ramaphosa’s growing resonance with voters and the threat of his eating into its own support base have begun to sow panic in South Africa’s biggest opposition party in Parliament, the DA.

So much so that the DA has become desperate and has started to send out irrational and bizarre, though self-serving, messages in its 2019 election campaign.

This irrationality has been growing ever since the party began to realise that with Jacob Zuma gone from the ANC leadership the time of having had an easy target is gone. The challenge for the DA is to up its game and, frankly, it has not been able to do it. Instead, it has fallen back on the tactic of criticising and, with audacious hypocrisy, claiming that voting for the ANC is akin to voting for the EFF.

This is rich from a party that has been comfortable to sleep with the EFF and its self-styled, fake commander-in-chief in an effort to win the political management of Johannesburg and Tshwane Metros. According to the DA’s skewed logic, it’s OK for Malema to make racist utterances, threaten his ally in Parliament, call for land invasions, just as long as he allows them to control key SA Metros.

Sleeping with a political ideologue is political expediency, of which the DA has an abundance of reserves, coupled with a willingness to be repeatedly politically abused by the EFF leadership.

The so-called marriage with Malema is an example of the DA’s unwritten policy of what can be called grab a convenient black face and partner with him or her, just as long as it looks good and impresses black voters.

Five years ago Helen Zille showed her desperation to reach into the hearts of black voters by presenting Mamphela Ramphele as the DA’s presidential candidate.

Zille imperiously executed this gambit, designed to lure black voters, without consulting her party (so insiders say), because she could. She was Helen Zille, the lone leader of the DA, and she was the DA. Few in the DA dared to mess with her because no one wanted to be another statistic on the list of those who had felt the venom of Zille’s fury.

Off course Ramphele pulled out of this deal leaving Zille humiliated and her dreams of turning the 2014 general election in a sort-of-American presidential race by pitting a black woman, Ramphele, who was not even a member of the DA, against a black man, Jacob Zuma, in tatters.

Inside the DA, former Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko is just one of the casualties of Zille’s scathing tongue and disdain. When Mazibuko began to assert herself and her own independence, she was found wanting. And when she was accepted as a student at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, the vitriol from Zille was disgusting.

Zille has also distinguished herself as a serial tweeter who has developed a knack of saying the wrongs things and angering the majority of the nation with outrageous claims about human rights abuses such as colonialism.

Last week Zille was playing the political prophet again, claiming that a vote for the DA would actually be one for Ramaphosa’s agenda.

Zille’s pronouncements appear to be part of a stage-managed DA campaign to attack President Ramaphosa. On the same day that her comments were published, the DA, the very same party that was dealt a humiliatingly bloody nose each time it faced Patricia de Lille in the Cape High Court this year, held a press conference at Parliament to rail against Ramaphosa.

As was the case with Zille’s predecessor Tony Leon and Thabo Mbeki, Helen Zille is no friend of the ANC or Cyril Ramaphosa. Her argument that a vote for the DA is a vote in support of President Ramaphosa is nonsense and also an opportunistic attempt to surreptitiously ride behind him and try to steal some of his sunshine.

In pure racial terms, it also means that the black man that Zille anointed to replace her, Mmusi Maimane, won’t be able to cut it at the 2019 ballot box. Now she wants to use the popularity of another for her warped political purposes. All in all, it shows how the DA is running scared of Ramaphosa’s effect on South Africans.

Maimane, a black man cynically anointed by Zille as her successor, led the criticism at Parliament against Ramaphosa. Such is Maimane’s political nous that in an effort to try to gain experience in running as opposed to criticising government he ham-handedly attempted to be named as the DA’s Western Cape premiership candidate. This put paid to DA claims of how internal democracy is in its ranks and how well-run the Western Cape is.

If it were really such a shining example of governance, which it isn’t, surely it would not have been necessary for an untested political lightweight to cause a rebellion in his own party by attempting to stage a power grab and shunt aside other hopefuls because they’re not good enough to be Western Cape Premier?

He pulled back only when a furore erupted over his plans. But the damage was already done and Maimane had graphically indicated he had no confidence in Western Cape DA leaders to be the party’s candidate for Premier.

Lately, Maimane has claimed the best way to advance South Africa is to support the DA in 2019. “This is true even for those who wish to support Ramaphosa’s reform agenda,” he claimed in his official newsletter. Nonsense. He and the DA want an easy ride on Ramaphosa’s coattails.

They have reason to be worried, because the latest survey released by the Institute of Race Relations was candid the ANC would garner 59% of votes in the 2019 general elections if there were a 69% turnout at the polls. The poll showed that the DA would only get 22% and the EFF 10%.

Although its still a long walk to the 2019 Election Day; the DA going into overdrive this early, the results of the IRR poll, the loss of wards in what the DA regards as its heartland, the Western Cape, the acrimonious parting with De Lille, her decision to form her own political party, and the Ramaphosa effect are all combining to make Maimane and his lieutenants fear a smaller representation in Parliament after the elections.

This fear has not only made them irrational but also laughable and silly enough to claim that they’re political Nelson Mandela’s heirs.

Such is their grasp of history that the DA made this outrageous claim in the same month in which Mandela had launched the armed struggle in 1961. DM

*Jacobs is ANC Western Cape secretary.


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