I’ve got a lot of expletives in my head, which not even Zille’s apology will tempt me to use to soil my precious Life in SA page. So I absolutely won’t.
What it does bring to mind was this exchange between my former British in-laws when taking a dig at each other in particularly trying times:
She: “Jesus WEPT!”
He: “’e would do if ‘e lived in this ‘ouse!”
And although I had to suppress the gurgles in my throat at this nonsense dialogue in the middle of intense irritation at something or other, I have to say neither were blaspheming. They really meant it.
And I mean it now. Jesus WOULD weep if he lived here, with us in South Africa today.
What to say?
If I thought I was upset when Zille was pulled up for daring to voice a rather obvious and innocuous observation about colonialism and threatened with a fate worse than death, then I was wrong.
I’m UPSET now. That fact won’t rock the world, I know, but it registers at around 9 on my personal Richter Scale …
She apologised unreservedly for her tweets and her subsequent explanations and agreed to vacate all the party positions she holds. (I know you all know this. I just had to type it to help me absorb it.)
The fight has been sucked out of her, that much was obvious. A Member of Parliament, who’s mouth has been taped firmly closed for the foreseeable future, suggested to me that Zille should retitle her book. Funny, but not so much.
In fact, Zille DID put up a fight. From what I understand and without being privy to everything that went on behind the scenes, it was a good fight. But I suspect she had the whatnot punched out of her on an enforced guilt trip.
“Do what is good for the party, Helen. Think of the DA Project, Helen. Have a heart for all our voters, Helen, looking to us to get rid of the ANC. C’mon Helen, you’re man enough to say sorry for the sake of the beloved country? And what about the legacy YOU will leave in the minds of South Africans?”
If not that, something close to it.
And then, not least: “You can still be Premier, Helen, promise”.
And the long-term goal was forsaken for the short-term, which is the DA’s tendency of late. Ignore the principle for now. We’ll deal with that later.
Except it will come back to haunt us all, even those loyal Zille supporters who gradually succumbed to the pressure of appeasement and political correctness.
And I’m sure Zille’s ego came into it, before I’m accused of presenting her as some beleaguered angel. Most politicians have them in spades and I’m pretty sure Zille knows she’s good at her job.
Fact is, though, this is a lose-lose situation all round.
Predictably, this has NOT appeased the ANC which wanted her fired. Terminated as a Premier. Expelled as a party member. And as I write this, I can, along with all of you, write the script for the EFF:
“Bloody colonialist racists, you’ve got no balls. The White Madam still rules you, Mmusi. We will fold our arms in Councils across the country. We will not vote with you ever again. Don’t touch us on our agency …” (or whatever new word they come up with …)
So, to anyone who thought this apology would appease, think again. To anyone who thought the average black voter was moved by the original infamous tweets, think again.
Yes, they angered MMUSI MAIMANE. He said as much.
Yes, they elicited righteous indignation from the MEDIA and opposing politicians. For sure, they have said so.
Yes, they shocked the life out of limp-wristed “liberals” in the DA. They bleated too.
But black voters? I don’t think so …
The DA claimed over the weekend to have done its surveys and its sums around the impact of The Tweets and established that we’d already lost support hand over foot from our target market. I am unconvinced until I see evidence (most particularly the phrasing of the questions put to those who were polled …)
And so, when the next “result” of the DA’s internal polling is released, I will be sceptical about Zille’s apology miraculously restoring all those votes.
Talking about disbelief, I think the DA and its little band of Mmusi Minions, who run around at pressers looking important, should think twice about the buffoons they seem to think sit in front of televisions across South Africa.
To them, one message:
Guys, it wasn’t sincere, ok? No-one actually buys that Zille has really changed her mind and suddenly no longer believes that “not everything about colonialism was negative”. Her face said it. Her statement came across like four wisdom teeth being extracted with a pair of pliers. And Maimane’s stiff jaw kinda gave it away.
As we so often tell the ANC: do NOT treat viewers and voters as complete bloody idiots.
I’d actually have been slightly mollified if there’d been some integrity, like:
Mmusi: “Helen and I have done a deal. She can have her views, but not in the decision-making structures of the DA. We need her as Premier while it still suits us, so we’ve let her stay for the next 18 months. Then we’ll say goodbye and she can go off and repurpose herself and neither of us will be very sorry.”
Helen: “Agreed. I’m only sorry that I didn’t see that my opinions would cause offence because I happen to be white. I’ll get back in my cage in the good old Western Cape and shut my gob while I deliver real services and proper governance to the people there. This time I will commit to staying right out of succession planning …”
Lastly, I’ll just get back to banging my drum of principles. Those are lost too, in this lose-lose game we’ve just seen played out.
We’ve seen Zille and the DA compromise so much that those of us on BOTH sides of the fence are compromised. For the principle to survive, the enquiry underway had to run its full course. Then, either she was fired in totality or she won the day and stayed on in every capacity. With principles, there is no half-way mark.
In the end, either Maimane’s belief that Zille was wrong would have been proved right, or Zille’s stance that her opinions were reasonable would have triumphed. Either way, she would have remained in the position of Premier because, if some tortuously-long disciplinary cases in the DA are anything to go by, this matter could easily have stretched out until the natural end of her term of office came around.
The whole unhappy saga lost no votes, won no votes.
What is lost is the people’s faith in politics and politicians – of ANY persuasion in South Africa – no matter what side they took in this debacle.
They watched while the DA once again made its “due processes” work to the leadership’s advantage.
They have now witnessed how it is entirely possible for public representatives to be completely gagged in a democratic party in a democratic country.
They have looked on while the opposition to the ANC behaved just like the ANC. Leading through scare tactics, silencing by threat.
To the good people, in and outside the DA. Take a few days off and then regroup.
Your country needs you.