Newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson Helen Zille reacted to the news that Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has resigned and will vacate his position towards the end of November by saying she’s unsure what changed between his joining and leaving the party.
“He enthusiastically joined while I was leader of the party. I have the same beliefs and values now. He needs to say what has changed. I wish him well,” she said.
She had earlier said on eNCA that life is full of irony because she had played a leading role in recruiting him into the DA in the first place, despite her concerns that he was “too conservative”, particularly on issues such as social welfare grants, which he had been opposed to, against DA policy.
On Power FM, Zille said it was “regrettable” the Mashaba had resigned without consulting her.
“Well, the mayor of the City of Johannesburg can do what he feels like doing. He is absolutely free to do that. This is a free country,” she told her interviewer, Aldrin Sampear.
“He hasn’t spoken to me. I regret the fact that he didn’t speak to me on the phone…
“He may have his reasons but I don’t know what those reasons are. He has said that the party has taken a move to the right. That is totally not so, because we have exactly the same values and vision that we had when Herman Mashaba joined the DA.
“He knows my role in the history against the struggle against apartheid and a range of other things.”
In her interview with eNCA, Zille reacted to allegations from Mashaba that “right-wingers” had infiltrated the DA.
Zille denied being a “right-winger” herself and highlighted things she had done during apartheid, while Mashaba had been “making a fortune in business”.
“I’ve been with the party since the progressives many many years ago, and Herman will always remember that when he was being a very, very successful businessman, and I take my hat off to him for being an entrepreneur and a highly successful in days when there were huge obstacles in his path.
“But he will remember that while he was making a fortune in business, I was hiding Umkhonto weSizwe operatives in my house, and I was exposing the murder of Steve Biko, so I’m not sure who these right-wingers are who he’s referring to,” Zille said.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) national chairperson Dali Mpofu lashed out at her following these comments. He interpreted her comments to mean that she claimed to have suffered, when she appeared to rather suggest that she had been actively resisting apartheid more than Mashaba had.
“Did [Helen Zille] REALLY suggest that SHE suffered more under apartheid white minority rule than [Herman Mashaba and] black people like him??” Mpofu tweeted.
“Which planet does she come from?
“Did Mashaba go to whites-only schools, vote in whites-only elections, eat at whites-only restaurants, etc?”
Zille dismissed Mpofu’s tweet as a “pathetic, transparent attempt” at “manufacturing outrage”. She denied having said what Mpofu claimed.
At a press conference at the Johannesburg city council on Monday morning, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced his resignation, effective on November 27.
“The election of Zille stands in opposition with the people I represent and the majority of the South Africans,” he said.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)