Former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has suggested that if the official opposition believes that Helen Zille could not represent the organisation any more, it would be within its rights to “step up and say it is enough”
Mazibuko, who was interviewed by eNCA on the formation of the Apolitical Academy in South Africa, was asked about Zille’s tweets about colonialism.
“I think they are shocking, I have stopped following her on twitter, I am not interested in engaging on twitter in the most toxic sort of backbiting… and historical reframing (by Zille)…”
She described the Zille brand of politics, which she engaged in on the social media, as “reactionary” and a “right-wing style of politics”. Mazibuko said it was “really unpleasant to watch”.
Mazibuko said she remained a supporter of the DA and would likely vote for it – if it did not lose sight of its principles – in future elections. But she clearly had lost faith in the woman who was once her party’s leader.
Mazibuko left parliamentary politics in 2014 to take up a fellowship at Harvard. Her election as parliamentary leader – and leader of the opposition in the national assembly – was at first enthusiastically supported by Zille. But the relationship soured over the two and a half year period that Mazibuko led the team in the assembly.
Mazibuko was careful not to say anything negative about Zille’s successor as DA leader, Mmusi Maimane – the man who also replaced Mazibuko as leader of the opposition – but she did say that he could have been more forthright in dealing with the attempted ousting of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.
She described De Lille as a friend and a colleague. She said that Maimane should have clarified the issues involving the allegations that De Lille had brought the party into disrepute. Asked if Maimane should have been speaking out on it, she said: “I agree. I think sometimes when political parties communicate with the public… they get caught up in the detail (about De Lille bringing the party allegedly into disrepute). Leaders should play a role in clarifying these matters.”
Mazibuko indicated that she had not excluded the possibility of returning to the DA in the future.
Early last year Zille was charged by the DA as having broadly brought the party into disrepute and of damaging the party with her March the 16th tweets about colonialism. “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.” The second tweet was: “Getting on to aeroplane now and won’t get on to the wifi so that I can cut off those who think EVERY aspect of colonial legacy was bad.”
Zille apologised and said she was not defending or justifying colonialism, but only highlighting that its consequences were not only negative. “Of course colonialism had a diabolical impact worldwide, including South Africa. That was the very premise of my tweets. Anyone who read them without a personal or political agenda would have understood that. If you say the consequences of something were not only negative, you are saying most were negative,” she said.
“But if there was anyone who genuinely thought I was praising, defending, or justifying colonialism, I apologised unreservedly and stressed that this was not so. I do so again now,” Zille said.
Zille later wrote in support of her tweets that “the real danger, in its quest for votes, (the DA) may start to swallow every tenet, myth and shibboleth of African racial nationalist propaganda.” Maimane shot back – a day after Zille’s ‘real danger’ warning: “If this was the price for development, then I say the price was too high.”
Zille was later suspended from party activities but she was forced to apologise again for the tweets. She retained her post as premier of the Western Cape.