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Rhoda Kadalie
3 minute read
9 Jun 2017
5:45 am

We’ve truly lost the plot on Zille

Rhoda Kadalie

It is not Zille who will obstruct the new African liberalism but crass analyses of what she did 'wrong'.

FILE PIC: Democratic Alliance members. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

If ever the Democratic Alliance should be united, it is now. Capitalising on a chronically weak ANC, the DA should be charging forth, campaigning across the country to attract votes.

Instead, it is divided over an innocuous tweet used to depose a premier who has governed exceptionally well by global standards.

The spat over the tweet has now devolved into reports that DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Premier Helen Zille have differences over their election strategy for 2019. So what is it, the tweet or the election strategy?

If it is the latter, the media has done nothing to find out what exactly the different strategies are and why it adds to the rising animus between them.

With reams of overinterpretation of the now infamous tweet in the public sphere, former journalist and now academic at Pretoria University Christi van der Westhuizen added her voice to the debate in Beeld (June 7), entitled “Staan Zille in pad van Afrika se nuwe liberalisme?” (Does Zille stand in the way of Africa’s new liberalism?).

She starts off by praising Zille in opposition to Tony Leon’s insulting “fight back” campaign of 1999. Failing to recognise that it was the ANC who cast all kinds of ridiculous aspersions on the slogan “fight back” with “fight black”, the politically correct media gave substance to this fallacious interpretation in the demonisation of Leon.

In fact, Zille was able to build up party support on a well-established party machine, with a formidable increase in and diversity of votes.

Van der Westhuizen acknowledges Zille’s plan of transformation as an extension of her trajectory of struggle activism, which finally led to her handing over the reins to Maimane in 2014.

But then she backpedals Zille’s political evolution as being stuck in liberal elitism, going back to the qualified franchise and the “paradigm of whiteness” of the Progressive Party, supplanted euphemistically by a “meritocracy” devoid of racism, patriarchy and poverty, embodying decontextualised and de-historicised notions of colonialism.

Zille, in her view, believes that “Africa could never have modernised without colonialism”; that Africa is devoid of elements of modernisation; and that she underestimates the effects globalisation would have had on Africa without colonisation. Arguing that Africa was always part of modernity, colonisation, in all its gory, holocaust-like perversions, destroyed it all.

She then proceeds to give Zille the most patronising lesson in history that is as crass as it is ludicrous.

“Zille’s remarks suggest that Africa is by nature primitive, backward and intellectually inferior, a situation that can only be remedied by colonialism. Implicit to this view is that people associated with Africa, namely black, by nature are backward and inferior, contrary to colonialists who are white (my translation).”

Accusing Zille of “nostalgia for white revisionism” as opposed to Maimane, the African liberal, she pits Zille, the pseudoracist, against Maimane, the progressive African liberal, to give effect to her argument.

It is not Zille who will obstruct the new African liberalism but crass analyses such as these that emerge from our premier universities.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist, making a speech in Athlone.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist, making a speech in Athlone.