Zille: Ample chances for women

2009-06-03 07:52

Cape Town - DA leader Helen Zille says the fact that her Cabinet consists of only men is indeed a problem, but she’s satisfied that women have enough opportunities to climb the ladder in the DA.

“And I didn’t, as is alleged by the ANC and Cosatu, acknowledge that I’d made a mistake. I do, however, acknowledge that it’s a problem that there are only men in the Cabinet. Right from the start I said it should’ve been different,” the Western Cape premier said in an interview on Tuesday.

The process whereby Zille appointed her Cabinet was based on giving the appropriate candidate the appropriate portfolio. The DA allows its members freedom of choice, and there are enough opportunities for women to reach the top.

According to her, the party will not compose its body of leaders artificially “like the ANC does”.

In reference to the torrent of insults from members of the ruling alliance, Zille said that, although she had expected it, she hopes that this form of political discourse is not a sign of things to come.

“Last week during a Cabinet lekgotla in Pretoria, I sat next to Tokyo Sexwale [minister of housing] and he just shook his head and said: ‘It’s completely unacceptable, that’s not how we practise politics.’”

Zuma 'charming'

Although President Jacob Zuma did not directly refer to the behaviour of organisations like the ANC Youth League and the MK Veterans Association during their discussions at the lekgotla, Zille did have some moderate praise for Zuma.

“Zuma is the most polite, charming and warm person you’ll ever meet. I think he is genuinely like that, he’s not putting on a mask.

“However, that is not enough to protect the Constitution, to impose the principle of equality before the law, to fight corruption, to have an understanding of the role of the judiciary, or to know how to stimulate economic growth.

“It helps if a leader is charming, and that’s something I’ll have to work on, but it can never be a replacement for the hard work and the knowledge,” she said.

Despite the good-natured discussions between her and Zuma and other ANC leaders at the lekgotla, Zille is under no illusions regarding the task at hand.

However, she feels the ANC are already trying to “demonise” the DA and Western Cape “as racists”.

“I told Zuma he should see the Western Cape as an opportunity instead of a threat. The fact that Zuma has not reprimanded the youth league and the veterans, tells me exactly what the ANC’s plans are.”