The Victorious Exit of Helen Zille

2015-04-12 17:54

Helen Zille has made an announcement to step down as the Leader of the Democratic Alliance. She was not disgraced.

At the Press conference where the announcement was made she briefly went through her 8 years at the helm of DA and noted successes and some set backs that she encountered.

Her success are obvious: Her strength and willingness to rise above and meet head-on with the Democratic Alliance’s historical burden and with powerful blows entrenched diversity within DA party ranks.

Her mistakes are not so glaring. DA under her leadership had become a well oiled machine. But perhaps she may point as mistakes (and others may do so) of the haste with which she pronounced the failed merger and co-opting of the Agang Leader Dr Mamphele Ramphele into the Democratic Alliance. Many people believe she paid a stiff price for that precipitate decision. And I guess she was referencing this aspect when she talked about some mistakes she made.

Still nobody can seriously deny that, when her leadership was tested by fire she always rose to the occasion carrying the entire burden: running an overwhelming immense organisation with its internal dynamics and contradictions.

Helen Zille was authentic and true to herself. She did not adopt masculine traits of aggressiveness. She was not an iron lady. She remained genuinely feminine in approach: instinctual, nurturing, collaborative, communicative, and responsive. She shown a deftness of touch and is a natural communicator.

Helen Zille began her career as a political correspondent for the Rand Daily Mail in 1974. The list of accomplished journalists who dropped their pens and microphones to storm the political arena is long. This includes Mick Huckabee the former Governor of Arkansas in the United States who first worked at a radio station where he read the news and weather, and Benjamin Mkapa the former president of Tanzania in East Africa was Columnist and Group Editor of Uhuru Newspapers.

One explanation for the political tendencies of journalists to foray into politics is that they, like politicians, are animated by a desire to change the world for the better.

As a political correspondent covering Black liberation struggle politics Helen Zille saw it all - both sides of South Africa: the White World and the Black World. And her leadership was a mission for the fusion of both these worlds.Her brush-ups with Black Consciousness leaders such as Steve Biko during her time as political correspondent was to become the herald and the harbinger for the evolving Helen Zille and made her more comfortable to deal with issues of race within the Democratic Alliance.

Some of the qualities of a great leader are paradigm shifting and the ability to nurture young talent around and provide them with all necessary support. Helen Zille sought to entrench diversity within the DA; facilitating the rise to power of youthful Black leaders like Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane. Young as both of them are they proven and still proof their mantle. Who knows that one of these leaders can take over Helen Zille? That will be the day!

Perhaps Helen Zille’s great qualities as the leader was exhibited during the 2014 elections when she managed to bring Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane to work together traversing the nation even though there were simmering internal tensions based on the fact that Mmusi Maimane was to finally take over Lindiwe Mazibuko as DA Parliamentary Leader. Great leaders manage internal conflicts and contradictions well and enable people to rise above petty differences among each other and embrace a singular goal.  It is not the sort of thing people can fake and sustain.

Helen Zille will physically not longer be the Leader of the DA anymore, but her persona - spirit will continue looming across the nation and the programs she has put within the DA will continue to define the Party.

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