Helen Zille must go

2017-05-04 19:21

Ms Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape and Former Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

I've always admired Helen Zille for changing the way Cape Town is governed. She turned a corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy into the leading municipal council that is Cape Town today. But after her tweets about the positive aspects of colonialism,  perhaps it's time for her to  go.

Prior to the 2015 Democratic Alliance (DA) congress,  Helen Zille held a press conference where she announced that she wouldn't run for reelection for the position of Federal Leader of the DA. This was Zille going out on her own terms.  And that is how I had imagined her retirement from public life would be.

That she'd complete her second term as Premier of the Western Cape, and retire thereafter while still commanding a high  degree of approval from her constituents. But her tweeting habits suggest that perhaps now is the time for her to go.

She is notorious for causing outrage on Twitter, especially on matters of race relations. She always offers an insincere apology after each incident. And blames it all on "black racial African nationalists" (whatever that is). Or blames it on her  outrage manufacturers.

But she is responsible for the outrage caused by her tweets. Most memorable was when she suggested that woke students who were unhappy at the University of Cape Town's institutionalised racism should have their funding withdrawn. This time Zille had a series of tweets dismissing the idea that colonialism in its entirety was bad. Apparently there were good aspects of colonialism.  She said "For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc." and was getting ready to defend this position but later apologised after Twitter users reacted with the necessary outrage.

Her apology is meaningless in this case since she later defended her position.  So in her views, white supremacy had positive aspects in South Africa. Not only negative.  She listed some of these positive aspects. According to her,  South Africans should thank white supremacists for infrastructure, piped water,  independent judiciary and heaven knows what else.

Apparently colonialists introduced the rule of law in South Africa. This is garbage of course. The only time South Africa introduced  or at least aspired to have a State that respects the rule of law would be in post-Apartheid South Africa. Zille attributing this reveals her white supremacist beliefs.

Fundamental to rule of law is equality before the law. That everyone has equal benefit and protection from the law. The laws themselves are applied fairly and consistently to all by a neutral and independent judiciary. And because courts do not enforce their own decisions, other State institutions are to enforce and uphold the law, always respecting individual rights and freedoms. Scholarly literature on the rule of law has even broader defining features of a state under the rule of law. But the few lines here are enough to show the flaws and racist nature of Zille's claim.

To start with, black people had no rights to speak of. With colonial laws such as Kaffir Pass Act and the Kaffir Employment Act,  black and white people were certainly never equal before the law. For Kaffir clearly distinguished black people from the human race. They were subhuman. They had no rights to speak of in law and reality, they were excluded from the human race.

But to Zille and others who share her views like Steve Hofmeyr, life before the end of white minority rule wasn't so bad because all humans were equal before the law.  Black people weren't considered part of the human race.  They were apes that hadn't fully evolved into mankind, but could, with social enlightenment, become a bit more "human like." Laws and the treatment of black people throughout colonial and Apartheid South Africa reflected this.

Many commentators have pointed out that Zille counting the blessings of colonialism forms part of the white saviour accounts of colonialism which seek to assert that white supremacists brought civilisation to the  uncivilised  ape-like peoples of Africa. Remember the DA's Penny Sparrow who called black people monkeys? Zille may not have explicitly called black people monkeys. But by saying the rule of law is a positive colonial legacy, she excludes black people from the definition of human being as it was in white supremacist South Africa. If you switch Zille's sex to a white man, locate her in government and imagine for a second that you are in colonial era South Africa, you immediately get a white supremacist.

One of Zille's pathetic defences is that Saint Mandela  and Nkrumah said it first. That makes it a right of course. Both Mandela, Nkrumah and many "freedom fighters" also had bigoted views of what a state under the rule of law is. While white people excluded black people from their definition, Mandela, Nkrumah, and many post British Empire societies excluded women and non-heterosexual men from their definition of equal benefit and protection from the law. The idea that they can offer lessons on the rule of law is crazy. They too were blinded by the privileges they enjoyed as heterosexual men just like Zille is blinded by white privilege. Mention the fact that 72.4% of top management positions in the private sector are occupied by white South Africans while calling for transformation and Zille will tell you that you're scapegoating the white minority. Because white privilege is a myth to her. The white people who occupy such positions are there because they are the most suitably qualified for them. In other words,  blacks are not capable according to her.

Zille further flaunted her racism by including infrastructure among her list of positive things inherited from colonialisation. Again this reveals her white supremacist ideals. She is totally blind to the pain of black people who were exploited to build that infrastructure with the maximum benefit thereof enjoyed by white South Africans. In a white supremacist ideal world, non-whites are subhuman and serve their white masters. So white supremacist Zille can count the blessings of white supremacy in South Africa.

I grew up in rural Eastern Cape watching as white South Africans enjoyed access to the piped water Zille speaks of. For generations, piped water remained a privilege enjoyed by our white South Africans. Our grandparents, parents and my generation had to compete with donkeys at nearby rivers for water. Black people dug the trenches for that piped water in employment conditions only worthy of being described as slavery. Yet they didn't enjoy piped water. It was for the exclusive use of white people.

 Today Zille counts that exploitation of black people as one of the positive legacies of colonialism.  She finds glory in the exploitation of black people so that white South Africans could enjoy the many privileges they still enjoy today.  This is the kind of hard-core racism that makes Steve Hofmeyr proud. And indeed he is. Steve didn't just find another white person who shares his racist views. He found a racist who leads  government. I imagine Hendrik Verwoerd, one of the architects of Apartheid, is probably looking at Helen Zille with envy. She is in a political party led by a black man and yet holds and expresses deep white supremacist ideals while leading a government for majority non-white citizens in the Western Cape.

Many people wondered why Zille was not suspended by the Democratic Alliance pending her disciplinary hearing. The party always calls for suspensions and dismissals. But party Chairman and Member of Parliament,  James Selfe said the party cannot suspend Zille because of her busy schedule. Pathetic! This is not surprising coming from James Selfe though. He was a member of the Apartheid military. So Zille's glorification of the oppression of black people did not disturb him. In the same manner the chairperson of the party's parliamentary caucus, Anchen Dreyer attended an event celebrating the life of a white supremacist. Heritage, they said.

Perhaps it was naive of anyone to expect the DA to suspend Zille. Many years ago I attended a DA bosberaad. Three key topics were on the agenda at the bosberaad. DA in government where service delivery would be discussed. DA in opposition and ways to grow the party. And internal organisational matters which includes, among other things, understanding the history and structure of the organisation, mostly for newly elected local reps. On the history part, the DA traces its roots from a series of splits and mergers.

The first of these splits and mergers is when a group of "progressives" left the United Party to form the Progressive Party supposedly for a strong opposition against the  National Party's Apartheid regime.  In the DA, these "progressives" were opposed to racism. The National Party were the racists. But think for a minute about where the "progressives"  came from. They came from the United Party which governed South Africa before the National Party won the 1948 elections. Was the South African government not racist before 1948? You'll find that they were white supremacists. In fact, Jan Smuts committed the United Party to continuation of white rule in South Africa during those elections. Because a black person (subhuman) can't rule the superior race (white). Only white South Africans were entitled to lead a government. The DA's much loved progressives were in the party then and remained there for several years. Today, they have been "cleansed"  of their white supremacy. Jan Steytler and Dr Bernard Friedman who were among the founders of the Progressive Party were actually white supremacists. They represented a United Party that was committed to the continuation of white rule in South Africa until they actually lost the elections to the National Party. The DA today looks to them with pride.

Then it becomes easy to see why the DA tolerates racism. Because the party traces its roots to white supremacists. They are convinced that founders were not racist when facts suggest otherwise. The DA needs to be stripped of its whiteness if it hopes to govern South Africa. And here I am not just talking about the physical representation thereof (look at senior staff and Members of Parliament). I am talking about every idea that entrenches white privilege. The party's tolerance of racism makes it incredibly difficult to win votes from black people. Ask yourself why the party has never won an exclusively black ward in Khayelitsha.

I have campaigned for the party in Site B, Khayelitsha when I served as branch secretary. Instead of talking about party policies, you end up being insulted for Zille's numerous controversies. Some her fault and others pure propaganda. She makes it difficult for people to see the DA as an alternative. Even the EFF is getting more votes in Khayelitsha voting districts than the DA. Yet the DA has governed Cape Town for 10 years now and actually delivers better than the ANC. If not for her racism, Helen Zille must go for damaging the party's reputation when it has invested so much in trying to portray itself as the only political party that champions non-racialism. Never-mind that it traces its roots from white supremacists and has a number of them in South African legislatures. And the DA's chairperson and MP, member of the Apartheid military, James Selfe can follow her.

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