Let’s be clear on one point before we get going on to more recent realities. Helen Zille has an unambiguous and undisputable track record as an anti-apartheid campaigner. This is not a debatable point. Do a Google on her history and you’ll be presented with the facts. So how does someone with her history manage to position themselves as a cheerleader for racist oppression in this day and age?
I would argue pride. My thinking is that when she posted that first notorious twitter nonsense claiming that not everything about colonialism was bad, she had probably had one too many in the business class lounge. That I could forgive. You know, you’ve had a few and you say something that doesn’t quite gel. Like drunk dialling your ex-girlfriend.
That first tweet could have been handled in much the same way. Oops, sorry, I messed up in a moment of irrational emotion. End of story. However, then Ms Zille went on to not only defend her tweet on Twitter, but wrote and published several articles on the matter, calling it a debate of national interest and defending her point of view which, let’s face it, has no place in today’s world and with what we know now. My perception of the situation is that she cared not one iota about the DA, not one iota about the people who had elected her. She cared only about her own intellectual pride. And on that pride she must fall.
Her pride in defending an indefensible point of view has split the DA, ruined what could have been a proper challenger for political power, and turned back the clock to make it a minority white party. Let me say this clearly as a 42 year old white male. Helen Zille’s actions, and the response of the DA’s FedEx, is going to cost them my vote. Unless they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and position themselves as a true multiracial alternative. Which, to be honest, they are not doing at the moment. Thanks to the damage Helen Zille has done to what, two years ago, seemed to be a party challenging for the lead and not just a white minority opposition, the DA looks set to regress.
Having lived in the Cape before moving to JHB I think this is a common problem. The Cape is somewhat isolated. And white people there don’t quite grasp the realities of South Africa. This is one of the reasons I prefer JHB. Up here we are much more honest about multiracialism. We deal daily with the challenges and rewards of moving outside our historical comfort zone. And we move forward. In my (albeit from some years back) experience, the Cape has not moved forward as much, and hence politicians based there don’t really have their finger on the pulse of the real South Africa. And they don’t quite realise how anachronistic their views are. I think this is part of the quagmire wherein Helen Zille lost her footing. Just one man’s opinion, so I might be very wrong.
This also illustrates one of the DA’s big problems. They have to keep the wealthy white voters happy while trying to whoo new black votes. And sometimes those two don’t mix very well. They could, with a united leadership, but when someone like Helen Zille forces the white DA voters to choose it puts them in direct conflict with back DA voters (under Maimane). And this shows us just how divided the DA voter base is. The DA needs to fix this, they need to come up with a united and uniting narrative. Currently they seem to be schizophrenic, pandering to conservative anti-integration whites and the new black middle class at the same time. A recipe for disaster unless they can find a constructive narrative that works for all concerned.
At this point I have to point out one more of the DA’s failings. We’ve heard all the nonsense about white monopoly capital. And we’ve all heard the ANC’s “facts” about how whites own 80% of the land and 80% of the economy, which in terms of other “facts” seems to be absurd (some economists have given some information about how much of SA’s companies are owned by foreigners, the PIC etc). And yet the DA does not present any alternative. Why can’t they commission a study giving “real” facts? Why can’t they give us facts, real economic alternatives? Are they lazy or incompetent? Or are they so focussed on criticizing the ANC and Zuma (easy targets) that they’re forgetting that they should be presenting intelligent alternatives in terms of research and policy?
Come on DA. Get your act together or risk losing votes. I might not vote for the ANC or EFF in 2019 (still have 2 years to decide), but you can’t count on my vote as a default. You are actually going to have to earn it.