Gareth van Onselen: Is Zille saying Zuma is so bad that we would have been better off with Thabo Mbeki? DELIVERING the keynote address at the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) 2014 election manifesto launch in Polokwane on Sunday, party leader Helen Zille devoted a significant part of her speech to uncritically praising former president Thabo Mbeki and the two administrations he oversaw. When Jacob Zuma was elected the African National Congress (ANC) president in 2007 — at the same venue — Zille argued that that was when things started to go wrong.No doubt the party’s launch was held in Polokwane to emphasise this point. But, in order to make the multimillion-rand gimmick work, Zille had to re-engineer history. She duly obliged.Mmusi Maimane, the party’s premier candidate in Gauteng, has already employed this tactic on a number of occasions. As a backdrop to the suggestion life was better under Mbeki, Maimane has used the fact that he was once an Mbekiite himself, who supported and admir...

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