The ballot boogie


“Open the way, make way,” the late Brenda Fassie belts out in Xhosa in the lounge of the Western Cape premier’s office in Cape Town. Helen Zille is doing what she’s done on stage across the country recently – dancing.

It’s a little recreation before the next long meeting, she says, slightly out of breath as she sways her hips and waves her hands, her face reflecting the lyrics that promise a glorious new future.

Sometimes she pauses for a moment, then joins her Xhosa teacher, Thandi Mpampo-Sibhukwana.

According to ANC youth leader Julius Malema, Helen “dances like a monkey” but she has no problem with his criticism. “I like dancing and I have the best teachers,” the DA leader says.

Later they collapse on the couch to catch their breaths. Even the country’s leading dancer sometimes needs a rest.

Helen laughs exuberantly between breaths. Her youthfulness is remarkable – she recently turned 60.

“At the rate we’re going I’m going to get so fit I’ll be able to toyi-toyi the whole Comrades Marathon,” she says.

“If you think Malema is giving me uphill, forget it! That’s nothing compared to my family who give most criticism, especially my 92-year-old mom, Mila!”

“I’m no twinkle-toes but I like dancing,” Helen says. She, like President Jacob Zuma, has danced merrily at gatherings for years. “It’s part of our culture. What do they expect? That you stand like a statue among people moving to the beat of the music?”

Helen isn’t shy to sing in public, either. She proved this two years ago at a large candlelight meeting in Belhar, Cape Town, when she took the microphone and like a real Idol sang the DA’s anti-crime song, Never Give Up.

See the latest YOU (21 April 2011 issue) for photos of Helen Zille dancing up a storm.

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