DA: Gandhi started defiance

2013-04-29 00:00

DEMOCRATIC Alliance leader Helen Zille took a further jab at the ANC this weekend and continued to challenge the history of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.

Zille, still smarting from flak over her party’s “Know your DA” election campaign, said at a rally in Durban that the famous Defiance Campaign against unjust laws undertaken by the ANC did not start in the 1950s.

In fact, Zille said, it dated back to 1906, when Mahatma Gandhi embarked on a campaign of passive resistance against the first pass laws.

“The defiance campaign started right here in KwaZulu-Natal in 1906 because the government of the day said no Indian may go to Transvaal, as it was then. He said, ‘No, we will go everywhere’.”

And in a remark likely to anger the ANC anew, Zille said former ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli’s values of a non-racial society were now shared by the DA.

“If you look at everything that Albert Luthuli wrote about people being equal, about one nation with one future and about us caring for each other, everything is the DA’s principles and values today.”

Zille was in Durban on Saturday for Freedom Day celebrations and she used the opportunity to advance the party’s election push.

The campaign claims to correct some of the myths about the opposition and to tell of the role DA leaders played in the liberation of South Africa.

The campaign pamphlet, with a photo of former president Nelson Mandela and the late Progressive Party MP Helen Suzman, has attracted criticism.

The ANC accused the DA of stealing the legacy of Mandela and of engaging in desperate propaganda.

Before addressing about 200 supporters, Zille visited the Mahatma Gandhi Phoenix Settlement site in the Bhambayi with parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, provincial chairperson Sizwe Mchunu and other provincial and local leaders.

Security was tight, with armed policemen in several vehicles accompanying her convoy. A private security company beefed up the security detail at the sports ground. This was in stark contrast to Zille’s attempt to visit President Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla last year, when ANC members blocked her way.

This time around ANC members were nowhere to be seen and threats to disrupt the visit did not materialise.

Addressing the crowds in sweltering heat at Northcroft sports grounds in Phoenix, Zille said they were standing on the shoulders of giants who had passed on to them certain rights and responsibilities.

“And our responsibility is to make life better for every generation. That is our work here and that is our work now.”

Apparently conscious of a warning from her predecessor Tony Leon about being stuck in the past, Zille insisted there were people who lied by saying the DA would return to apartheid if it governed.

“Never, zange [no ways]! It can never happen because many of us fought very hard against apartheid, but we were standing on the shoulders of real great giants,” she said to applause, before talking about Gandhi and Luthuli.

She urged the crowd to use their votes in next year’s elections to choose their leaders. “You have the power. You hire with your votes and fire with your votes.”

She said freedom had to be struggled for in every generation. “This is our time,” she said to cheers from her audience as she repeated the words in isiXhosa, isiZulu and seSotho. Then she scribbled on the Freedom Wall and was whisked off.

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