DA: Local man is new deputy KZN leader

2008-10-19 00:00

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will attend the November 2 national convention called by disgruntled ANC members to form their own party. DA leader Helen Zille said “we will be there to say our say and see for ourselves”.

Addressing the DA KZN conference at the Royal Showgrounds on Saturday, Zille said South Africa may have another political party on the horizon, but chances are that the new grouping will offer more of the same — a closed, patronage-driven system that only benefits those well connected to the party elite.

Zille spoke on the fragmentation of the ANC and South Africa’s changing political landscape. She said voters may believe that with another party they are spoilt for choice, but analysis of political parties in the country shows that they offer two choices — an “open, opportunity-driven society for all” versus the “closed patronage-driven society for some”.

She said the ANC is the archetype of the closed type, and the SA Communist Party (SACP) takes the “higher law of the party” to its logical conclusion.

“They do not even bother to stand for election, but just secure safe positions for themselves with the ANC’s patronage-driven network so that they can assume their self-styled role in the vanguard of the patronage movement.”

Zille added that this tendency did not start with ANC president Jacob Zuma and that former president Thabo Mbeki’s rule was a demonstration of patronage in action. She said a defining feature was the abuse of constitutional mechanisms by the ruling clique to deploy its own loyalists to control every state institution, from the SABC to the National Prosecuting Authority and the police.

“Affirmative action became a convenient moral cover for crony deployment and the network’s tentacles extended to the private sector,” Zille said.

She added that business, increasingly realising that the prospects of winning state tenders depended on the favour of the network, quickly adapted to the system.

Referring to breakaway leader Mosiuoa Lekota, Zille said it is noteworthy that he never objected to this process while Mbeki was in power.

The DA leader asked if Lekota had undergone a “Damascene” conversion.

“This is possible — after all, there is no quicker way to undergo a conversion to the philosophy of the open-opportunity-based society than losing power in a closed patronage-based society.”

Zille said that whatever its prospects, the dilution of the ANC’s single-party dominance is positive.

“… [The] prospects for a genuine ‘open opportunity alternative’ arising out of the Lekota initiative seem limited by the followers’ determination to start what they call ‘the real ANC’, which sees itself as ‘more ANC than ANC. … Time will tell, and we will watch the gestation of the new party very closely,” she said.

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