FILE-In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, then-DA leader Hellen Zille participates un a party rally. Picture: AP

In The News Opinion

Helen Zille represents the past and is not fit to lead the Western Cape

The process of Helen Zille answering at a disciplinary hearing has begun. This is informed by the most recent Zille tweets in which she sought to make a case for colonialism as not bad in all facets.


My interpretation of Zille’s colonialism views: colonialism was not all that bad, since African Americans today speak English with a twang!


The latest tweet of Zille stands in a long tradition of tweets that confirm a senior politician and recent matriarch of an opposition alliance that is in misalignment on what would offend those who suffered at the hand of colonialism, segregation apartheid, and even slavery.


Mmusi Maimane, the product of Zille, has never before so categorically attempted to show his power as leader than today with this case. Maimane needs to break himself free from her coat tails because he is comfortably considered the product of Zille.


As DA leader he is considered to be lacking the power to stamp his authority on transformation in the party, which remains to a large extent white in key leadership when it has consistently grown its percentage margin of black and coloured vote constituencies.


Zille must go because the era she represents is history. If the DA has any hope of truly transforming itself it warrants the moving on of people such as Helen Zille, who despite being the founder of the reformed DP into her DA, finds herself today as the face of conservatism, stuck in a paradigm that associates the DA with a colonial and apartheid role.


It’s clear from the activities of the weekend that camps are being solidified. On the one hand there are those who support Maimane’s call for action and sanction, if not the ejecting of Zille as premier. On the other side, there are those who are in support of her to stay on as DA Premier in the Kaap-Colonialstan.


It appears the factions in the DA depict two categories of generational and race construction. The DA at its epicentre in ideology, policy, and life is and remains a white party, yet the DA’s growth trajectory angles towards the black vote if it has any hope of a future.


Therefore this constituency will inform the key driver for a decision on Zille. Alternatively, the DA is not ready to let go of its mother, because while the DA has shown growth in the apartheid black vote, the core of the DA remains the white vote in ontology and a thick layer of the coloured vote.


The contestation of these two worlds and realities has the party in this day at this crucial chapter. Is the past willing to let the future count, can the future live with the past? Is there truly a distinction between a past and a future?


Thus the DA is before its Rubicon: a choice between Zille and Maimane, a choice between its past and its future, a choice between conservatism and plausible liberalism. A look back or a move forward.


If the DA decides to back Zille then Maimane is doomed, if they choose Maimane, the centre of the DA is shifted to a space unknown to the historical DP, which became the DA with Zille as the leader.


It is clear Zille is not fit to lead the party as its Premier in the Western Cape, a party she gave its first black leader.


The simmering tension within the DA attests a reality of a party with a conservative core and a circumference of black voter base it seeks to grow.

This moment confirms a great opportunity for the ANC in the Western Cape, yet the lack of true organising in the ANC Western Cape is glaring because this is the best moment to secure ground lost with a boisterous Zille. The ANC leadership in the Western Cape is simply out of their depths to seize this moment. Therefore it may remain a missed opportunity when it is offered on the proverbial silver platter.


Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Political Analyst

Clyde Ramalaine – Columnist and Analyst
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine is an ordained and licensed member of the SA and USA clergy with over 25 years of service as a practicing theologian. Ramalaine’s incisive political analysis and commentary on a variety of issues has appeared regularly in most SA newspapers since 2010.
His work continues, among others, to appear in The Thinker, the leading Pan African Journal for thought leaders. He participates in panel discussions on subjects of his interest, and has appeared on SABC and ANN7 platforms, among others.
A published author including annual anthologies of political commentary and a volume of poetry named Gekraakte Blare.
He holds a BTH (Hons-Status) with double majors Systematic Theology and Sociology from the University of Western Cape (UWC).
He also earned a MA Theology (Systematic Theology) Cum Laude from North West University (NWU). His dissertation “Black Identity and experience in Black Theology: A Critical Assessment” is considered a ground-breaking and very relevant work in Black Theology. In such, he successfully questioned the usage of the epithet ‘black’ from a socio -historical and theological perspective.
He serves as management consultant on strategy design, analysis, and communication services for the last 22 years with serving clients in both private and public sector domains.
Analyst for Weekly Xpose.
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