Ostensibly the DA has achieved closure with regard to Helen Zille and her views on colonialism. But while the terms and conditions of the settlement reduce Zille to a mere pawn on the DA chessboard, the rhetoric in which the settlement is wrapped is contradictory and disquieting.

In that Zille is required to vacate her position on all decision-making structures including the provincial council of which she is Premier, amounts to total political emasculation. There is no precedent of a provincial premier, like a state governor, whose job description excludes the right to pronounce on policy and who, therefore, cannot lead from the front. How this accords with the DA’s claim to embrace “freedom, fairness and opportunity” is anybody’s guess.

In his remarks on the Zille settlement, DA leader Mmusi Maimane flaunts his affection for jargon that resonates well as sound bytes but which is contradictory. “We must challenge each other’s ideas in a constructive manner,” he stated. Yet it was Maimane himself who impulsively rejected Zille’s objective statements about colonialism, unilaterally declared that “colonialism can never be justified” and peremptorily imposed a disciplinary hearing on Zille. No  “constructive manner” in any that.

Maimane also said that “it is healthy for us to engage in robust debate” but clearly that excludes anything about history and heritage. Yet he talks about “reconciling South Africans” and of “non-racialism,” Such aspirations will not be realised by declaring subjects.

like heritage as being out of bounds for discussion. Maturity as a country will never flourish under such proscription. Americans have never proscribed discussion and debate about their civil war which cost over 600,000 lives.

What the Zille settlement means is that the DA no longer embraces liberal tolerance and for that, it is Maimane who should be apologising.

Sent into The Mercury and published, 16 June  2017.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *