In an extraordinary interview with Aldrin Sampear on SABC News’ Unfiltered on Monday night, DA Federal Council Chairperson Helen Zille was unperturbed about news that two well-known black DA figures would be having a press conference on Tuesday.
Makashule Gana and Solly Malatsi intend to speak at 9.30am. No one knows what it may be about, including Zille, who appeared to hear about it for the first time from Sampear.
She speculated that since Gana and Malatsi are both avid runners, their press conference would probably be about something to do with jogging.
She described both men as her friends.
She explained that she has followed their exploits as athletes avidly since they are both “exceptional runners” who cover “mind-boggling” distances.
Ms Zille says you guys are exceptional runners and the kilometers you record are mind-boggling https://t.co/KHNWhsOM8H
— KhayelihleKhumalo (@KhayaJames) May 31, 2021
Malatsi is a DA MP who also served as the party’s spokesperson between 2018 and 2020.
Gana is a member of the Gauteng legislature for the DA.
Zille was unimpressed that Sampear appeared to want to make the men’s press conference about “race”, but he then clarified that he was referencing that, according to her, it had something to do with running an actual race on the road, which Zille then approved of.
She had earlier downplayed all the fuss about DA MP and former party spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme quitting as an MP this month, pointing out there’d been no such fuss when Mike Waters, a white parliamentarian, had resigned.
Zille accused the media of being racist. She said the DA had plenty of black MPs and MPLs who were still going about their work and the DA was still a nonracial party focused on building one South Africa for all. Zille also denied that the DA is losing support, especially among black South Africans.
Van Damme made it clear on May 20 that she was quitting as an MP due to her unhappiness with a “clique of individuals” in the DA.
She said she would focus on writing her memoirs and continuing her efforts against misinformation.
She said she had no plans to join another party.
The DA has found itself increasingly embattled in the wake of the fallout over its 2019 election results and accusations that it is no longer as welcoming of black leaders in its ranks. The party’s current leadership, which has come to dominate it, was concerned that it lost ground to the Freedom Front Plus among white voters, its traditional support base.
Mmusi Maimane resigned from the party following the departure of then Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba later in 2019. He criticised the DA for no longer being the vehicle that might potentially unite all South Africans, in his opinion.
Solly Malatsi and Makashule Gana are having a press conference tomorrow pic.twitter.com/XgjzkrPaCg
— Thato Mabe (@ThatoMabe_) May 31, 2021