Helen ZIlle. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Helen ZIlle. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Helen Zille’s passion, patriotism and organisational strengths are what lifted the DA from being a small opposition party (11% of the national vote) that was merely a “thorn in the flesh” of the ANC behemoth (at that time approaching 70% of the vote) to “serious contender” status, wresting the Cape Town metro and then the Western Cape provincial government from the grip of the predatory, corruption-riddled governing party.

Progressively, the DA began taking control of many municipalities across the nation, and then other major metros.

The ANC saw the writing on the wall about 10 to 12 years ago. Knowing they could not match an increasingly influential DA in terms of good governance and accountability, they quickly set up full-time back-room teams to scour social media, with the aim of dragging up “dirt” on DA leaders.

Historically Jacob Zuma spent much of his time in exile in Russia, all the while understudying the Russian apparatchiks’ modus operandi, including disinformation/dirty tricks and even violence against any and all opponents.

SA’s sensation-seeking tabloid press (which by then included the Iqbal Surve-controlled Independent Media group) played their part in providing free rein to what was essentially ANC propaganda, assisting their strategy to “take down” what was proving to be very effective DA leadership, which had the integral participation and contribution of Zille.

It was put out there that the DA was a party solely for the benefit of whites. When Mmusi Maimane took over the national leadership of the party, the ANC vociferously claimed he was not in charge as “Zille was his madam”. Zille’s tweet that “colonialism was not all bad” was decontextualised by the ANC trolls and Zille was portrayed as being “thoroughly racist”.

The DA leadership, as it now is (and has been for several years), does not have the conviction, gravitas or unity to stand up to, or expose, the ANC’s political chicanery. It has also been unable to rouse and rally the rank and file of the party to derail the ANC bandwagon. Sadly, though Cyril Ramaphosa’s emergence from the party ranks began as a hopeful sign, the ongoing dysfunctionality of the factionalised party, coupled with an absence of arrests or prosecutions, means there is little hard evidence the ANC is finally cleaning up its act.

The only reason Zille is still relevant in SA politics is that many patriotic South Africans (and there are many) know her to be the only authentic individual who has shown the essential passion and commitment to our country needed to save us from our self-serving politicians.

Our current “politics of coalition'” which has managed to partially unseat the nefarious ANC and once had the promise and potential of far more, was engineered and made possible by Zille’s driving spirit. I honestly believe if we had patriotic, competent people running our government, Zille would have already retired gracefully (and thankfully) to enjoy peace of mind in the time left to her.

As things stand, we can only hope Zille is allowed back into the DA in a role senior and significant enough to clean up “the mess” (Zille’s words) the party is in. As things stand, we can only hope she manages to hang in there. In view of our beloved country’s dire straits, we need Zille (and others like her) more than ever.

Sandy Johnston, Nelson Mandela Bay

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