By Pinky Khoabane
Helen Zille during a campaign trail to woe the Black vote
There’s the saying: don’t kick a man when he’s down but I have no words for the Blacks in the Democratic Alliance other than that they are mad to be mad at Western Cape’s Premier Helen Zille for praising colonialism. In fact, I have no sympathy for them. There was the one time when I felt a sadness for them when Zille spat-out one of her racist rants and subjected them to her usual public humiliation. It’s called solidarity but when people subject themselves to ongoing indignity at the hands of someone to whom they bow, and they think will change, then we must disengage.
It’s like watching a woman in an abusive relationship. It’s a cycle – abuse, make-up period and we are back to the abuse again. Zille will go on social media and dispatch her racist rants – dispense in the crudest of manner with those who dare challenge her – later defend herself and say she was misquoted – enter into kiss-and-make-up with Blacks – until next time. All this while nothing – not a word – comes from the DA’s Black caucus.
The truth is the DA Black caucus have taught Zille that they bow to her. They almost understand their position in the party. They are the bought blacks. They must absorb the humiliation and cover the cracks by their silence or leave. Many choose to stay.
This is the first time that the DA Black caucus has taken Zille on. Immediately following her latest tweets, only Mbali Ntuli, member of Kwa-ZuluNatal legislature, reportedly tagged the premier in her response, making it a direct response. The rest indirectly responded. They understand Zille’s power and know it can cost them their positions in the party.
Zille is a racist and has displayed this publicly. She’s not one to wait for a braai with close friends and spew her bile. She’s no different from Penny Sparrow and the many racists that go on social media and ventilate their view of themselves as superior to others simply because they have a lighter skin shade.
While it may be fashionable this weekend to point-out Zille’s racism, the party has many incidents in which other members have hurled racist abuse at other people with very little consequences from the party.
Here are just some examples and this is apart from the “famous” ones from the likes of Dianne Kohler-Barnard’s praise of apartheid.
- In 2013, the former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Standford Slabbert made disparaging statements about President Jacob Zuma and the ANC. Slabbert said that Zuma had more wives than brain cells. The former councillor didn’t stop there, but accused the ANC of producing “dumb idiots who wait for handouts” and accused the political party of overseeing a country where a quarter of schoolgirls were HIV-positive owing to South Africans’ rampant spread of the disease.
- In the Western Cape Legislature, in 2014, Theuns Botha referred to a member of the provincial legislature, Zodwa Magwaza, as a bobbejaan (baboon). The same Botha called Lynne Brown, an ANC leader of the opposition in the Western Cape Legislature, a hippopotamus.
- In a debate in the Western Cape Legislature, when Magwaza questioned the DA on its silence on the closure of schools in the Western Cape which she referred to as the “elephant in the room”, Zille retorted: “There is only one elephant in the room.” Like her fellow DA member, Botha, she, too, went for Magwaza’s weight.
- DA MP Pieter van Dalen, was once accused of calling Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson a teef (bitch), in Parliament. Van Dalen later denied the remarks and was reported to have said that the minister was hearing voices: “I don’t know if she’s hearing voices. She’s known for hearing voices.” In Business Day, he was reported to have said he called her a dief (thief). Regardless of the denials, the MP’s remarks were met with deafening silence. There wasn’t even a public outrage demanding that the matter be investigated and the truth be established.But who is going to discipline Zille? The same process that lifted Kohler-Barnard’s expulsion after she had retweeted a post that said: “Please come back PW Botha – you were far more honest than any of these rogues and you provided far better service to the public”?To be mad at Zille now is sheer hypocrisy and political expediency.