Faith Daniels

Mmusi Maimane – you are not the one

2017-06-13 14:24
Helen Zille en Mmusi Maimane. Foto's: Gallo Images

Helen Zille en Mmusi Maimane. Foto's: Gallo Images

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After all that has been said and done within the official opposition party, the DA, you must hand some portion of admiration to Helen Zille. 

Here is a woman, who, when called out on her public social media utterances about colonialism, still handled the matter in her own way. She responded to criticism quite extensively, basically saying that if what she put down in 140 characters offended you, then she’s sorry. 

By that we can deduce, that if it didn’t offend you, you are welcome to skip that part of her timeline. Then you are one of the few people who understood what she really meant and not what she really said. 

Fast forward to Tuesday and she apologises unreservedly to the South African population – again, if you were offended by the tweets. 

Alongside her sat Mmusi Maimane, who delivered his own statement about how he was personally hurt by the tweets, and how it set the party back. And he is right. It set the party way back. 

But the admiration though doesn’t stem from that. It stems from the fact that no one within the ranks of the DA can really call Helen Zille to order. The party’s federal executive suspended her prematurely and was subjected to Zille schooling them on their own rules and regulations about a week ago. 

Press conference after press conference, the DA can tell you quite succinctly where the ruling party is going wrong. It can lead a process straight to court and be quite powerful in pointing out wrongs, and in actual fact, who is wrong and who should take the blame. The party knows the role it has to play within the opposition party sphere. 

But it cannot deal effectively with its own mess. When it comes to Helen Zille, it’s a whole different ball game. The party will tell you about due process and how it must be followed. That is the line that it will stick to. There will be no movement from there – no debate about long-term goals and where the party ultimately wants to go. 

For now, it wants Helen Zille to stay on as the premier of the Western Cape. That much is clear. There will be no motion of no confidence led. 

Maimane has been quite whimsical and unconvincing when addressing the Zille matter. In fact, up until Tuesday’s presser, he seemed pained by the fact that he had to deal with it at all. But that is where leadership must enter, right? To make the unpopular decisions and think beyond the here and now. 

What sort of party does the DA want to be, come 2019? By all accounts, the party is quite fine with staying the official opposition.

Helen Zille addressed the nation in what could only be described as the apology that Maimane wanted right from the start. But will she be booted out of the party? Not really. She’s been removed from being actively involved in the party’s decision-making structures. Is she still the premier of the Western Cape? Yes. 

The EFF Commander in Chief Julius Malema gave a very stern warning to the party last week – that if it doesn’t act decisively in the Zille matter – it can really kiss coalition party politics with them goodbye. That is no minor thing. Outside of the Western Cape, the DA needs as much support as possible. The fact that the ANC is scoring own goals every single day will not be enough for the majority of South Africans to turn to the DA. 

Race matters in South Africa. And Helen Zille touched us on our studios when it comes to this. 

A slap on the wrist was not enough, Mmusi. Years from now, this will be the moment the DA leader will look back on as the time and place where he lost the plot. It is the time and place where aspirations of higher office slipped through his fingers. It is not beckoning soon, definitely not in 2019. 

- Faith Daniels is a seasoned radio and TV journalist, and is currently head of news at Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio.

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Read more on:    helen zille  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  opposition  |  da

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