During an interview on 702, newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) federal chairperson Helen Zille disputed that she came out of retirement to rejoin politics.
The former DA leader and Western Cape premier says she was not in retirement and had in fact launched a media company called Godzille media, which she says she launched because “Twitter is such a disgusting sewer” that she wanted to develop “different forms of communication for fighting the battle of ideas”.
Zille was also a senior research fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) before throwing her hat into the ring for the important position of chairing the DA’s federal council, a contest she won on Sunday, emerging triumphant over Athol Trollip – seen as the other favourite – as well as Mike Waters and Thomas Walters.
The DA federal chairperson said she decided to make a comeback because “sometimes there’s a time to return”.
She debated with the radio show’s host, Eusebius McKaiser, over whether she was the “change candidate” as she claimed – because she hadn’t been in a position of power within the DA since 2015 – or someone who has “been around forever and a day” as McKaiser put it.
He said that while Zille has “played a very important role in opposition politics” she has “been a leader before. Change is important, you are not the face of change,” he added.
“Everybody knows the DA has been through a very rough patch and that rough patch has been manifest most clearly by the loss of support at the polls,” said Zille on her decision to return.
“The DA is the only party in South Africa that even when they face a marginal loss at the polls does some very serious introspection.
“The ANC as you know has dropped from 70% to 58% [sic] and all they do is carry on infighting. They never have a proper introspection as to what causes these things.
“Mmusi had the incredible guts to go out and ask some very intellectually competent and highly independent individuals to analyse what they think has gone wrong with the DA on the basis of a lot of input from literally hundreds of people at the coal face and independent people around the DA.
“In that context I knew that my skills of managing really complex and diverse situations, such as the seven-party coalition we held together in Cape Town, such as turning ideas and values into practical and implementable policies and such as unifying divided caucuses” would be needed, Zille continued.
“When I became leader of the Western Cape it was divided, but it ended up focused and united, ditto the City of Cape Town,” she said.
She added that she believes her Western Cape government was the most “unified caucus anywhere in politics”.