Just six months ago, the Democratic Alliance was sitting fat and happy, contemplating sticking it to the ANC in the 2019 elections.
As the Zupta plunder juggernaut rumbled on and hundreds of thousands of disillusioned ANC supporters were seriously considering dumping their party because of corruption and state capture, the DA was becoming more and more the thinking person’s alternative.
Now, riding to the rescue, Saint Cyril the Just will not only help repair the country’s image, but also that of the ANC. Already there are signs that the fence-sitters, or even those who considered going over to the DA, are back in the ANC fold, or they will be shortly. Ramaphosa has given them a party they can believe in again; a party they can trust. That, alone, is going to make it doubly difficult for the DA to reduce the ANC majority in 2019.
Added to that, the DA seems to have a political death wish. First they try to get rid of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille who, for all her faults (and arrogance is one of them), represents the coloured vote in the Western Cape. Second, it seems the DA didn’t act soon enough on the water crisis in the province. Sure, the national government (read ANC) has been manipulating events in some areas to make the DA look bad, but the party has also shot itself in the foot.
And when it comes to blowing off toes, SheWho-Knows-Everything – Western Cape Premier Helen Zille – is the most skilled in that area. She got into a lot of hot water (and was rapped over the knuckles in a DA disciplinary Monday 10 29 January 2018 process) last year with her tweet that colonialism was not only negative.
So when I saw one of her tweets last week, I instinctively dismissed it as faked. Surely, no one, knowing the sensitivity of the topic of colonialism to many black South Africans, would risk offending people a second time? Twitter user @JerryTaba commented on a photo showing children carrying buckets of water in wheelbarrows along a dusty road, saying: “I really fail to understand why this WC #DayZero is attracting such attention to a point where even Army will come to de rescue. We grew up nd still living in de #DayZero, when will government nd Army rescue us? #DefeatDayZero.” Zille jumped in: “It must be a relief that you weren’t burdened by the legacy of a colonial water piping system.”
That Zille cannot see the hurt that sort of patronising, sarcastic comment can cause, shows a worrying lack of judgment in a political leader. Black Twitter users reacted with anger and Zille continued to deal with queries about the tweet (including from The Citizen) with a toxic mix of arrogance and condescension.
A Twitter user called Mr Daddy(@tsebisom) commented to her: “I’m convinced you’re out to sabotage Maimane’s @MyDA. If that’s not the intention it’s certainly the effect.” One can debate the topic of colonialism till the (Vrede) cows come home; that’s not my point. The fact that Zille chose to deliberately tread on sensitive toes shows that her arrogance knows no bounds.
So, here’s my message to the DA: if you want to put in a good showing in 2019, put Helen out to pasture. Or ban her from social media.