Now the only poppie in the village

2010-07-31 00:00

PARTY congresses are mostly about rah-rah cheerleading to boost troop morale. The close knife-work between vying factions generally takes place behind closed doors before and after congress, with only a rare public glimpse of the backstabbing.

Unfortunately for blood-sport fans, the kind of mayhem that characterised the African National Congress’s Polokwane conference — in which the president was metaphorically beheaded in a very public coup — is the exception.

Well-organised parties deliver slick but rather dull events, much like the Democratic Alliance’s federal congress of last weekend. And to further dampen media interest, the delegates did not, as is the wont at ANC youth congresses, knife one another, nor bare a single bottom in anger.

The top jobs, including that of leader Helen Zille, went unopposed, ensuring the seamless ascension of Wilmot James to the national chair, while a motion calling for a deputy leader was seen off on the grounds that it is “a recipe for deepening conflict”. As the nearly invisible DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip has learnt, Zille does not readily share her sunlight with tall poppies.

More difficult to choreograph among the DA’s old-school delegates was the election of a black African to the executive.

All four black candidates for the three deputy-chair jobs failed. On the other hand, the DA Youth elected both a black chair and a black leader.

Most importantly, the DA has achieved a working relationship with Patricia de Lille and her Independent Democrats that will consolidate the coloured vote, to create in the Western Cape an opposition haven in an ANC-dominated national landscape.

This not-quite-marriage between the two Boadiceas occasioned some coy (and corny) exchanges about courtship, engagement and who would buy the ring.

But whoever ends up paying for the fingermongery, it is clear who will be in charge in the relationship — Patricia will be changing her surname to De Zille.

Zille’s apparent preference for a long, very long, engagement, has to do with De Lille’s history. De Lille started out in the Pan Africanist Congress but left to found the ID on a policy of avowedly implacable opposition to ANC corruption.

Then when the DA were relying on ID support to snatch Cape Town from the ANC, De Lille stunned them by cosying up to the city’s hopelessly corrupt and incompetent ANC. Zille became mayor by a single councillor vote.

Although politics makes for strange bedfellows, one can be sure that the DA hasn’t forgotten De Lille’s previous desertion at the altar. Zille will take pleasure from De Lille’s evident eagerness now to tie the knot, with an ID-imposed deadline of September 20.

As the Daily Dispatch put it, the DA congress was like “a Roman triumph”, with Zille hailed as “the great warrior queen”, surrounded with symbols of her victory, including the constituency leaders from Mitchell’s Plain where the DA have just won the last ward previously held by the ANC.

“Finally, exhibited in a chariot of her own at the end of the procession, was the other warrior queen, the defeated De Lille.”

Zille indeed sits bestride her world, but even empresses have an Achilles heel. Zille’s is the obsessive centralisation about her of power and control.

For now, however, there are no obviously rebellious minions in the Great White Queen’s empire.

The only looming threat is how long an ANC that perceives itself to be the only legitimate political entity on these shores will tolerate the DA determinedly nibbling away at a vote that the ANC proclaims as its sole preserve.

That Zuma tolerated the recent potty-mouthed, racist tirade of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa against that “disgusting madam and her ilk”, gives the clue.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.