Editorials 14.7.2016 01:29 pm

DA people ‘oppressed us’, Zuma slams black DA supporters

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

The president says it’s even worse when you lead the DA while you are black, forgetting that the ANC also welcomed former Nationalists into its ranks.

President Jacob Zuma had a go at opposition parties the DA, EFF and Cope last night at the launch of the ANC’s victory countdown.

He said people who were once part of the apartheid government were now part of the DA in parliament. He condemned black people who voted for or supported the DA, and said it was even worse when you led the party while black, in an obvious reference to Mmusi Maimane.

The DA leader took over the party’s reins from premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille on May 2015.

“We think the DA is a wonderful organisation,” he said sarcastically. “It’s the only one of all the opposition [parties] which has the people who oppressed us … they still sit in parliament today.

“If you are a black person … you join that party … really?

“It’s worse when you lead it,” said Zuma, to the audience’s applause.

History may actually not favour Zuma’s opinion, however. The modern-day DA was formed in a merger between the then Democratic Party led by Tony Leon with the National Party led by Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Van Schalkwyk, however, then left the merger with some of his party members to join the ANC and he was rewarded with a ministerial role in return.

Some might then conceivably make the argument, using Zuma’s logic, that the ANC then also welcomed the very same “people” into its ranks “who oppressed us”.

The historical predecessor of the modern-day Democratic Alliance was The Progressive Party (PP), which was founded in 1959 when liberal members seceded from the United Party (UP). They could not agree with the inability of the UP to present an alternative to the National Party’s apartheid policy. The PP emphasised constitutional reform, a Bill of Rights, an independent judiciary and the evolution towards federalism. These reform proposals were combined with advocacy of a free market economy. In 1961 only Helen Suzman was elected in parliament. For 13 years she was the only opponent of racial discrimination and other apartheid regime abuses in the whites-only parliament, fighting against detention without trial, pass laws and influx control. From 1971 Colin Eglin was the party leader, without being a member of parliament himself. In 1974 the party won seven seats.

After numerous transformations, after the 1987 elections, the party as it was then known, the Progressive Federal Party, concluded negotiations with two other parties to merge into the Democratic Party (DP) in 1989, and proceeded to win 36 seats in the elections that year (about 1% of the vote). The DP played a key role in the negotiation of an interim constitution, which includes many of the party’s original progressive principles and ideals.

It has gone through a great deal of transformation from when it was perceived as a “white party”, to now being led by a black man, Maimane, who some still criticise as “a front for a white party” that wants to use him to woo black voters.

Zuma also lashed out at the EFF, saying it was formed merely for revenge by the party’s leader Julius Malema and his friends, among them Floyd Shivambu.

“Political parties are formed by politicians for political objectives. You can’t form an organisation ye [for] revenge.”

Malema formed the EFF in 2013 after being expelled from the ANC in 2012. The party is known for its radical policies that aim for “nationalisation of mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy”, which were among many of the demands he popularised during his time as the ANC Youth League leader, but which did not find favour with the mother body.

The president also took a swipe at the Congress of the People (Cope), saying “it has shrunk almost to an invisibility”. Cope was formed by, among others, former ANC members Mosiuoa Lekota, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mluleki George in December 2008. Internal party decisions saw Shilowa, who was deputy president of the party, expelled in 2012. This led to a decline in support for the party when supporters loyal to Shilowa flocked to join the United Democratic Movement (UDM) after his expulsion.

– Additional info by Wiki

 

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