DA in black and white: Carien du Plessis

2012-03-17 08:35

It all started fine and fairly jolly. DA leader Helen Zille toyi-toyied on to the stage in a flurry of Brenda Fassie’s Vul’indlela and the kwaito sounds of Lento by Professor.

She recited the right viva mantras.

The image projected was that of a DA appealing to all South Africans and, indeed, the majority black audience at the party’s Gauteng conference in Pretoria last Saturday seemed fairly at home – at last.

Zille spoke about the DA’s plans to win Gauteng in the 2014 general elections, and warned against the ANC’s “heavily disguised plan to strip

our Constitution of the checks and balances that empower the people and limit the ruling party’s power abuse”.

Then she set sail on her blue wave for the coasts of dark Africa and said: “The DA will not allow South Africa to become yet another transition shipwreck that litters the shores of our continent. We will keep the proud ship South Africa, not only afloat on the high seas of democracy, but in full sail.”

The ANC wanted to change the Constitution, she said, because they failed in government, but desperately wanted to cling to power.

Well, ahoy sailor Zille.

The Constitution thing isn’t all true. The last time I checked, the ANC was divided on the matter and was still debating it.

Still, nefarious attempts to change the Constitution aren’t impossible, and the DA is grasping at that straw.

If scare tactics can buy a few more votes, the DA sure is putting these up for sale.

But really, there has to be another way. The politics of fear scares me.

We were fed this at school in the 1980s when “gevaar” (danger) was coloured, red and black, and the total onslaught stood between us and heaven.

Zille reminded me of our teachers who preached this propaganda when they should really have been teaching. Her speech wanted to make me look for the nearest life raft.

The DA wasn’t it.

Maybe some people need to be shocked out of their complacency.

Maybe the DA’s alarmist “Stop Zuma” general elections campaign in 2009 got the party some votes (it didn’t stop Jacob Zuma from becoming president and the country hasn’t gone under either).

Maybe a shock campaign could win the party some more in 2014. But those would be crosses on the ballot papers made with trembling hands instead of empowered ones.

Zille said the ANC’s “second transition”, mooted in recent policy discussion documents, was the “transition to a failed state”.

A failed state is a pretty serious state to be in, and South Africa isn’t that.

In fact, many economists are saying that Africa is the next big thing, with many nations on the continent showing great economic growth.

Doesn’t the DA see us being part of that?

Zille, with her relaxed and realistic attitude towards the blue lights and bodyguards, is in a great position to have us rise above the unease and paranoia in the governing party – especially in the run-up to the elective conference in December.

We’re not asking for a promise of rose-coloured spectacles, just lenses not tinted so dark that it’s impossible to see through.

» Du Plessis is a political journalist 

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