For years the DA has prided itself as being the defender of liberal, democratic debate. But to some extent of late, that mantle appears, ironically, to have passed to the ANC.
Whereas a succession debate now rages within the ANC with two distinct sides shaping up – Ramaphosa versus Dlamini-Zuma with Matthews Phosa as a third contestant, the DA has become paralysed and paranoid over the red herring issues of colonialism and racism.
Ramaphosa and Phosa openly condemn Zuma and his cronies. Mcebisi Jonas exposes the silent coup that has taken place under Zuma in terms of state capture (Daily News, May 19). ANC MP Makhosi Khoza bravely refuses to be gagged by intimidatory
elements in the ANC and sticks to her opinion of Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle and her support for a secret ballot in the no-confidence vote (Mercury, May 19). All that is, the healthy, robust exercise of democratic rights and debate. It’s called free speech – one of the five fundamental freedoms.
In contrast, DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, has decreed that colonialism “can never be justified,” and as such, has put a lid on any discussion of the subject. As a conversation, the subject of colonialism within the DA has become fraught with intimidation, demonisation and indictment as poor Helen Zille knows only too well.
As anyone with a basic knowledge of history appreciates, the legacies of colonialism were both negative and positive. For daring to point out the positives, Zille has been labelled a “racist” by a black KZN DA MPL and others. Thus, white DA members have been effectively gagged from debating, let alone defending, history and heritage lest they are labelled “racist.”
The corollary of this situation is that the DA now labours under self-inflicted, racial paralysis which should never have come about had Maimane not been so impulsive in indicting Zille for her historically correct and objective remarks about colonialism.
So much, then, for liberal tolerance within the DA given its uncalled for case against Helen Zille whose liberal credentials and footprint have no equal in current South African politics.
Sent into The Mercury and published, 28 May 2017.