Verwoerd comment overshadows Zille's last dance

By Drum Digital
10 May 2015

A comment by veteran journalist Allister Sparks on apartheid-era prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd overshadowed outgoing DA leader Helen Zille's "last dance" for the party on Saturday.

The first day of the Democratic Alliance's federal congress in Port Elizabeth started off in song and dance as candidates campaigned for the party's frontrunners for leader, Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James, and those for chairperson, Makashule Gana and Athol Trollip.

Trollip, who is the party's Eastern Cape leader, opened the congress and jubilantly welcomed all the delegates.

"We especially welcome all the SABC viewers,” said Trollip to loud cheers after the party successfully got a court order to broadcast the congress.

“I am singling them [the SABC] out from all the other media who came here voluntarily. We had to drag them to the court to get them to cover the congress,” he said.

Trollip said the DA was going to govern the Nelson Mandela Bay metro after next year's local government elections.

James, who is the outgoing chairperson, echoed these sentiments.

Zille eventually took the stage with considerable fanfare.

"I can promise you that that is the last time you will see me dance," she said as stage fireworks sparked across the stage and delegates were bathed in blue confetti.

"It is an immense honour to be here and speak to you for the last time as the DA federal leader. The DA hasn't just been a big part of my life... it has often felt like my whole life."

She also looked at the party's growth since the country achieved democracy.

"We grew from 338 000 votes in 1994 to over four million last year. In the process the DA has become the most non-racial party that the country ever had.

"Believe me, we have only just begun," she said, and then joked that she would sing The Carpenters song with the same name, if she could.

"This congress heralds a turning point not just for the DA but for South Africa. As we approach the 2016 elections - we are knocking on the door."

"This congress marks the start of a new era for South Africa."


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