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Helen Zille answers her critics

Helen Zille
15 May 2009

The DA leader says the ANC may apply gender quotas, but its Big Men remain in control

During a turbulent week, my thoughts have often turned to the Kenyan government of "national unity", widely heralded as a solution to the conflict and polarization in that country following the elections of December 2007.

The "unity government" is actually a symptom of a failed democracy. After the ruling party refused to accept defeat at the polls, an arrangement was made for the President to stay in office, while his rival became Prime Minister. There are two deputy presidents and 40 cabinet ministers with 50 assistant ministers. Each minister received new mahogany furniture, a new Mercedes Benz for town travel and a Land Cruiser for the countryside. The cabinet costs an estimated one billion dollars annually (roughly one-eighth of government revenue). The commentators were satisfied. The quotas were filled. Every power monger got a piece of the pie. And the Big Men remained in control.

This scenario came to mind when President Jacob Zuma announced his Cabinet this week. There are now 62 Cabinet members (including deputies). They will cost the taxpayers at least R1-billion per year, and counting. Zuma's Cabinet is designed to repay political debts, settle scores, balance factions, meet quotas, and co-opt some opponents. The commentators are satisfied. The quotas are filled. The Big Men remain in control.

But in the one province the ANC lost, there is uproar. ANC affiliates are threatening to make the province "ungovernable" and take "militant action". Trade unions are threatening to strike. Spokesmen are vowing to "bring Zille to her knees". It is a re-play of what happened when the ANC lost an election in Cape Town in 2006. Only the pretext is different. This time the commentators and the media, hunting in their customary pack, justify the protests on the basis of the all-male composition of the provincial cabinet.

They have swallowed whole the ANC's narrative that filling quotas is the most important criterion for establishing a government.

They are now trying to force me to sing the same tune. They would, no doubt, be satisfied if I followed Zuma's example by increasing the size of the Cabinet, and creating a slew of sinecure positions as an equity façade.

But this is not the DA's narrative. We have a mere ten MEC positions in the Province to undertake the nigh impossible task of fixing the chaos the ANC has left behind, and deal with the scale of in-migration, driven in large measure by the ongoing collapse of service delivery in quota driven provinces.

In the DA we apply the "fitness for purpose" test to each appointment. We create opportunity. We do not manipulate outcomes. And the many women in top positions in the DA know they are there because they add value, not to fill a patronizing quota. "Big men" certainly do not control the DA.

But the whole brouhaha has actually got nothing to do with the composition of the cabinet. This is just a convenient pretext for the real issues.

In the ANC's eyes we have committed three cardinal sins.

  1. We beat them in an election.
  2. We exposed the lie that the ANC is a non-sexist organization that promotes gender equity.
  3. We broke sexist cultural taboos around male sexuality and HIV/AIDS.

We know from bitter experience in Cape Town that the ANC does not take electoral defeat lying down. Instead they use every trick imaginable to reverse the voters' choice. We are now seeing the same pattern emerging in the Province. We are ready for them.

And, as in 2006, most of the media and commentators have failed to see through this. They buy the ANC's narrative once more, just as they swallowed the ANC's line on the kangaroo court, known as the Erasmus Commission.

When various ANC affiliates use the most vile sexist slurs against me (ironically in the name of promoting gender equity!), various commentators seek to establish a "moral equivalence" between our contesting positions by quoting -- entirely out of context -- one sentence from the middle of a letter I wrote to a newspaper responding to ANC attacks. In this way the media can accuse us equally of "mud-slinging" and "descending into the gutter". They can also manufacture a "major row", as if both sides, equally, are spoiling for a fight.

I appreciate the fact that the ANC distanced itself from the worst of these statements (although they created the climate in which they occurred).

However, the (male) gender commissioner has remained silent about the extreme sexism of the ANC Youth League and the Umkhonto we Sizwe War Veterans Association that both accused me of appointing men to my Cabinet in return for sexual favours. Contrast the commissioner's silence on this issue with his vocal threats to take me to court to impose quotas on the Western Cape Cabinet. His obsession with quotas is actually a useful diversion from the real issues that oppress women in South Africa.

Have you ever heard the gender commissioner challenge the assumption, still held my millions of South African men, that multiple unprotected sexual encounters are their right? This is the worst manifestation of South African patriarchy, and it is encouraged by the behaviour of some leaders. It is also the main reason why we cannot bring the AIDS pandemic under control and why women bear the greatest burden of this disease. I will keep making these points no matter how much outrage it elicits. Denial and political correctness are far easier than challenging deep-rooted cultural norms of sexual dominance that are the root cause of gender oppression.

Have you ever heard the gender commissioner insisting that men who make babies should actually accept their responsibilities as fathers?

I could go on, but the list of omissions is too long. Almost every structure established to protect the rights of South Africans has become an extension of the ANC, protecting the powerful against ordinary people and maintaining a culture of silent denial about the root causes of many of our country's biggest problems.

The role of the opposition (amongst other things) is to break that silence. We will continue to do this, no matter how much politically correct outrage this elicits.

This article by Helen Zille first appeared in SA Today, the weekly online newsletter of the leader of the Democratic Alliance, May 15 2009

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 responses to this article

zille still our best hope
the way the media has treated helen this week is shocking, it is like they dont want the da as an opposition party and just want the anc to be a dictator

by bonginkosi on May 15 2009, 11:59
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The ANC have a history of making provinces ungovernable.
Where was the greatest bloodshed prior to and post previous elections - always Kwa Zulu Natal and the Western Cape - where the ANC did not have control.
Is it just coincidence that these two provinces are the provinces where the ANC did not have . .more

by Ted on May 15 2009, 12:15
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Zille and the ANC
This is a ray of light amidst lots of heat

by A concerned South African on May 15 2009, 12:30
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Scary now
She now call Them "BIG MEN". What is really big about them?,
I feel sorry for her husband, is he a small man?.

by TJ-caz on May 15 2009, 12:34
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Sanity
You go girl!

by Proud Zille supporter on May 15 2009, 12:38
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What
She now call Them "BIG MEN". What is really big about them?,
I feel sorry for her husband, is he a small man?.

by Tedie on May 15 2009, 12:38
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negotiate
I am not a DA supporter.I have though,through the immature rantings from both sides,been elevated to a position of superior being by default.I would not share a table with either of these rude and despicable parties of disgruntled and old fashioned . .more

by marshbuzzard on May 15 2009, 12:47
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Patriarchy and the fitness rule
Women are constantly excluded under the "fitness for purpose" rule. It is as a justification for unhust outcomes, because it sounds really good.
It allows the prevailing power structures to determine the outcome, normally the old boys network while . .more

by ThaboM on May 15 2009, 12:56
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Patriachy and the fitness rule (Correction)
Women are constantly excluded under the "fitness for purpose" rule. It is used as a justification for unjust outcomes, because it sounds really good.
It allows the prevailing power structures to determine the outcome, normally the old boys network . .more

by ThaboM on May 15 2009, 12:58
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Bravo Helen. Spot on.
It's unfortunate but typical that most media critics got it wrong. Moreover, its criminal and immoral that the media print and subject the public to the P******* verbal vomit regurgitated by these chronic illiterates and corrupt bullies who know no . .more

by Brutus on May 15 2009, 13:07
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Dear Helen
I am an ardent DA supporter but have to agree with many of the other people on this forum that you protest too much. (See DB's last column).

The DA needs to choose more carefully which battles to fight and which to let go. Replying to childish . .more

by Mischa on May 15 2009, 13:16
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@ ThaboM
The DA "systematically excludes women from positions of responsibility"

And the leader of the DA is ....... a woman!
And the leader of the DA in parliament during the previous government was ...... another woman! (now retired rather than . .more

by Beancounter on May 15 2009, 13:27
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Helen-I wish that you were president
That criminal clique(the ANC) have tried to intimidate you and you told the vermin to jump! Well done now focus on more black voters and whip that criminal scum(the ANC) into shape in 2014.

Winnie-fraud
Tony . .more

by SAM on May 15 2009, 13:29
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Malema is a threat to society and to the security of the state
In a normal society he would be arrested and incarcerated. The ANC clowns however allow the nandos clown to continue with his K**

by Piet on May 15 2009, 13:29
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True leadership
Thank you sincerely Madame Premier for your courage and leadership under pressure. May you always find the energy, strength and resolve to complete what you have begun - the age of reason and honesty.

by David Polovin on May 15 2009, 13:31
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@ Helen
I have often thought that the people employed to handle your "image", as it were, should be the first to go. What a disaster. You are with more frequency being depicted as a ranting white poppie and if the elections were held today you would not secure . .more

by x on May 15 2009, 13:35
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knee jerk
SCARY NOW AND WHAT!! You must be a member of the ANCYL with knee jerk reactions like that!!!So typical of your ilk ....can't play the ball only the person...P*******

by beebop on May 15 2009, 13:52
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silence is golden
can someone please put her bloomers in her mouth...just shut up!

by enuf on May 15 2009, 13:59
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@ ThaboM - "the fitness for purpose" rule
Hi Thabo
I thought maybe someone should explain to you what "the fitness for purpose" rule is, since clearly you think it should have no importance and just "sounds really good".
The "fitness for purpose" rule is actually a downgrade from "MOST . .more

by Just Wondering on May 15 2009, 13:59
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@ThaboM
Hellen Zilla IS the leader of the DA. Not a deputy. The ANC does not have a woman in charge.

You make the charge that the cabinet appointments were not on merit. Your claim, you prove it.

Your rhetoric is just that.

by Duh! on May 15 2009, 14:02
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may i?
who wears the pants in your household...your husband probably has to ask for permission from you to go to the loo

by just-asking on May 15 2009, 14:02
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Go for it
Go for it Helen...I admire you guts and you talk so much sense. I know the ANC is shitting themselves for their incompetence that will be exposed in due course.

by Lucas on May 15 2009, 14:07
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@ ThaboM - part 2
Then again, looking at some of JZ's selections for Minister's you may just be right...

(Army general for Communications Minister??? -
destroyer of Home Affairs for Dept of Correctional Services??? -
Blade for Higher Education??? . .more

by Just Wondering on May 15 2009, 14:07
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part 3
I should add Pravin and his Chemistry degree, but i won't because he's had some good experience at Treasury.

by Just Wondering on May 15 2009, 14:10
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quality
such a great response... such clear thought... such great ideals... viva zille

by R on May 15 2009, 14:15
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Sexist?
I don't have any problems with the all male council. Having a minister like Dr. Manto is far more of an insult to my as a woman.

Keep up the good work Helen - only the truth hurts.

by Lynne on May 15 2009, 14:28
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Zille's attack
My view is that Hellen is opposed to JZ and hates him.The issues she raised whether true or not are posed to create anger and verbal slurs.If JZ were to join in the ring (as he has a right to do so as well) this will be the worst time for our . .more

by Sipho on May 15 2009, 14:55
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Thanks Helen
Thanks for standing up for women.

by Nwali on May 15 2009, 15:04
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You go Zille!
Helen, South Africa needs more of you and more people like you! Your highly principled leadership is always articulated so cogently and rationally by you. ANC "quotees" should learn from you.

Your opinion on the culturally-determined gender . .more

by Paul on May 15 2009, 15:13
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Gender equality - what nonsense!
I am a woman fed up with the gender equality issue. Women like Manto & many others in the cabinet are there because they are woman - are they doing a good job? - heck no!! - please give us ministers who can do the job, no more window dressing please!. . .more

by Kim on May 15 2009, 15:14
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Helen Zille, Black Sasher

Now let me see - Helen Zille accuse the ANC of being run by BIG MEN.

Now is this the same Helen Zille who ran a safe house for the Big Men of the ANC in the 1980s, when she even had to go into hiding because of her pro-ANC . .more

by JVR on May 15 2009, 15:22
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Dumb Zille
Zille why do you regret your comments on JZ as per the Sowetan today.

Zille you are so stupid you pretend not know that you gave sexual favours.

Have you ever wondered why JZ is not entertaining your comments? Zille you are reducing . .more

by Helens sister on May 15 2009, 15:26
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Just like apartheid, Zille your time is coming
Just because you won the WC now you think you better than the almighty.

Now you believe the whole ANC is against you for winning one province out of 9 and the country.

You have time to waste and your shortsighted followers to . .more

by African nation on May 15 2009, 15:34
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Courageous under fire
Helen you are holding your own in a country where it's somehow become cool to flout the rules. If you stand up to the corrupt b@stards in charge you are ridiculed for whining. It's like high school all over again and I just hope someday the electorate is . .more

by Dre on May 15 2009, 15:45
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Ted
Ted - Check you facts about violence in Kzn. It is the ANC supporters that were being gunned down. This has always tbeen he case in Kzn. Some of us have witnessed our friends and classmates being gunned down by in class by IFP as far back as in std 5 for . .more

by Gambu on May 15 2009, 15:49
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@Sipho
You can't see the wood for th trees my friend. You obviusly have deeply rooted racially based views where in your reality Helen's factual and justified defence of her cabinet is on par with what the ANCYL and other illiterates said.

by Dre on May 15 2009, 15:53
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Ted
Ted - Check your facts about violence in Kzn. It is the ANC supporters that were being gunned down. This has always been he case in Kzn. Some of us have witnessed our friends and classmates being gunned down by in class by IFP as far back as in std 5 for . .more

by Gambu on May 15 2009, 15:54
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Women should remember this whole thing when they vote!
I bet they hate being used as an ANC football. They know Helen is right and should vote accordingly. I bet no woman actually condones Zuma's ways in their own mind!

by Dre on May 15 2009, 15:56
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She's correct
At the end of the day, she is right in what she says and is far more capable of running the country than the ANC.

by NY_Sandtonite on May 15 2009, 16:08
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Anc nonsense
It is true that within the ANC the women they place in high positions are very well qualified.
Lokk at the former Minister of health; she was perfectly qualified to preside over millions of premature deaths due to aids.
Look at the former Vice . .more

by Plutarch on May 15 2009, 16:32
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Helen for president
Wow, Helen you are a true leader amongst leaders!

by Omar on May 15 2009, 16:38
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Sorry Dre
Time will tell Dre, but many women voted for the ANC. Many women believe the ANC has empowered them. I am gald that many women understand the bigger picture than being narrowed down by a few of Zuma's misdjustments.

Numbers are against your . .more

by Gambu on May 15 2009, 16:41
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@African nation
"This is africa and it is for africans.": Statements like sadden me deeply. It further embeds the genuine sense of hopelessness with which the world views Africa. The fact that you cannot seem to see your own deep-rooted identity-driven tribal mindset . .more

by Paul on May 15 2009, 18:13
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Helen sees the true reality that faces us ....
If this country does not reverse its HIV rates then no government will ever EVER dent poverty, educate its children, develop skills and grow jobs.

I hope she continues to expose the killer-culture of denial by apatriachal leadership and fight the . .more

by Saffer on May 15 2009, 20:00
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goggas, Paul, goggas
Paul, out of curiosity: Are you an Anglo-Supremacist? Your contribution here makes me think of the attitude white liberal anglos had towards rock spiders and other types of goggas?


by JVR on May 15 2009, 20:02
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win more influence by not insulting voters
All actions have an equal and opposite reaction.
Bad manners and rude behaviour by ANCYL and MK Vets towards Helen Zille and DA provincial council are a reflection of the disrespect they hold for the voting public in Western Cape - more than 50% of . .more

by viva DA difference on May 15 2009, 20:41
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If only
the journalists that have criticised Helen Zille could write with as much clarity as she does. As always, she surmises the madness around us and analysis it so brilliantly.

One thing that is very sure, Helen got her position because she was . .more

by Sad days on May 15 2009, 21:48
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Can you fight 50 million black mostly uneducated people?
No one has succeeded in doing this in Africa yet. Particulalrly if you are white as blacks will never vote for whites even if whites offer better prospects for them. You have to agree that the ANC have been a shockingly bad corrupt useless government yet . .more

by Sad Times For Sure on May 16 2009, 05:31
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Thabo was so completelty hopeless that his own party fired him.
The new lot will be no better, different faces but the same appalling corruption as is the African way? Here we hava a leader who has had unprotected sex with a girl he knew had aids. Unproptected? Yes that is right and when you tell foereigners thay . .more

by good luck Helen, the ANC are a disgrace on May 16 2009, 05:36
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Brilliant response Helen.
Keep up the good work. There are many of us who appreciate it.

by Durban Dave on May 16 2009, 07:26
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@African Nation
Do you intend to imply that Zille is not a African? The only basis for such an this is no doubt her skin colour hence you are a racist and no better than any apartheid governement. Don't be a racist and throw away your own chance at a great . .more

by Arthos Whisper on May 16 2009, 12:36
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ANCYL and MK scumbags
Zille is dead right. As usual, a well worded intelligent response. This has been stirred into a frenzy by the media using highly creative, and manipulative language as well as selective quotations from her letter to create a storm. Those using the most . .more

by Airwolf on May 16 2009, 14:16
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Zumas libido
Three wives were not enough for him - he had to find even more sex outside his marriages. He knew the lady had AIDS, but didn't condomise, and took a shower instead. And he said all this in a Public Court, knowing it would be world news. What a fantastic . .more

by Andy on May 17 2009, 06:21
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Zille dont play victim
Zille u r indeed a smart polititian, but please dont play victim, we have seen that many times and its not interesting any more. People of Cape Town do not need and care about these unnesesary an stupid politics, all they want is service delivery, just be . .more

by Commited member of the ANC/YL on May 17 2009, 14:01
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@Sipho and other Zuma apologists
When Zuma slept with that woman, he was disloyal and disrespectful to his 3 wives. He broke a promise of fidelity, but worse, exposed them to a deadly disease. These are the mothers of his beloved children.

Then he treated his shocking disloyalty . .more

by Andy on May 17 2009, 19:08
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what is expected
i am sure that the response from all the anc cadres etc will no doubt follow by ignoring all the points / facts that have been made, insult, demean and accuse as far as possible the personalities as racists and insist that the da have a mandated agenda . .more

by onlooker on May 17 2009, 19:58
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@ onlooker
You are correct , the majority Anc voter is IQ 66 that is why they the Anc got the vote .
The majority brain dead stupid IQ 66 anc have no understanding what the anc are doing .

This is Africa , a stupid African Continent , its the . .more

by Dilligaf on May 18 2009, 00:18
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THE aNC
iTS THE AFRICAN WAY .

THE DA is dealing with Africans , thatshat they are , thats what they do .

The world is watching and says , the blacks are WILD .

Malema , ancyl , anc etc are WILD .

The Savage is under the . .more

by pETER on May 18 2009, 00:27
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Good on you helen!
Just keep telling the truth. The truth always prevails. You have a lot of supporters out there. Continue to be strong and courageous.

by karen on May 18 2009, 06:54
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@ThaboM
ANC has filled 94% of provincial cabinets with black people. Is this a reflection of the demographics? Bull dust...

by Mo G on May 18 2009, 07:56
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BIG MEN...
...you would know wouldn't you 'cause you got a BIG MOUTH that needs to be stitched or perhaps you prefer it GAPING to please the next BIG MAN in line

by Inkwenkwe on May 18 2009, 08:09
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Helen Zille
Helen Zille is by far the most able and level-headed political party leader in South Africa. She has the uneviable task of operating in a hostile environment bedevilled with hypocrisy, and its bedfellow, political correctness. She has given the racist, . .more

by flebus on May 18 2009, 08:46
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Helen Zille answers her critics
Thank goodness we have a Helen Zille in Parliament! She is a ray of hope. It is glaringly evident what the ANC is about, when they use people like Malema and Mantashe to humiliate to Opposition party in such a dreadful manner, using dirty sexist . .more

by anonymous on May 18 2009, 09:16
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Insult
Which party is the chauvinist? The all male cabinet party or the party who allowed a female minister to refuse antiretrovirals for mothers? Is it the party whose leader sets the example of forced female sexual submission?

by feminist on May 18 2009, 11:03
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Zille
There is a clear sign that Hellen Zille is justifying her actions of not resepcting President Zuma. She never refers to him as President and this is also a clear sign that she undermines Pres Zuma's ascendency to the the country's higher office. Her . .more

by Pops on May 18 2009, 11:09
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Helen, you are a star! Don't ever let them get you down!
Helen, were it not for people like you, I would have lost all hope for this country and Africa too! A true decomcracy REQUIRES a strong opposition, or else we might as well spiral to the depths of our neighbouring Zimbabwe!

Your strength give . .more

by African, not Indian! on May 18 2009, 13:30
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WHY UDM FAIL
AS A POLITICAL LEADER YOU MUST WORK BEFOR AND AFTER BUT HOLOMISA HE JUST PUT MORE FOCUS ZUMA.BUT KNOW ZUMA IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNTRY.MY ADVISE TO BANTU HE MUST JUST JOIN ANC FOR THE POLITICAL SAKE

by LUCAS on May 18 2009, 13:50
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Oh dear Inkwenkwe
You are letting your ANC political correctness facade slip. Expect a visit from you Minister of Women very soon for re-education.

Check the ANC manual - you are meant to be non-racial and non-sexist. Of course, no one in leadership actually . .more

by Sad days on May 18 2009, 14:39
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ancyl website
anyone taken a look? there's a picture of their leadership: 100% MALE

by charlie on May 18 2009, 15:45
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ZUMA IS ALSO UR PRESIDENT HELLEN
i wonder why hellen underestimates "Prez Zuma" so much. i just wish to see your husband, "if you have". i jst wonder what does he say when you are always on another mans' back all the time. i think Hellen should focus more on the WC and stop critising our . .more

by MABUCY on May 18 2009, 20:04
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If I Were Hellen Zille
I would start more sentences with. 'The DA' , 'My constituency', 'As the Official Opposition' ect and fewer sentences beginning with 'The ANC' or 'Jacob Zuma' or Person X.
I am sure a more depersonalised and less confrontational stance will win . .more

by Joe Public on May 18 2009, 23:17
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whats with the tail
lol, yall are the same zille... cut from the same twak!

by Motho on May 19 2009, 10:33
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Get2Work already
I am an African voter and proud of the fact that i voted ANC. My main request or plight, is to Zille. Madam i dont understand whether your arrogant or just racist. Theres no undermining your intellectual capacity, sagacious you might be, but for the fact . .more

by Enough on May 29 2009, 11:52
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Get2WorkAlready
Helen i congratulate your victory in the Western Cape, everybody knows that for democracy to thrive you need an equally thriving opposition. But i just dont get your take on things, i know you made known the fact that Steven Biko was murdered in a police . .more

by YouthLeague on May 29 2009, 12:12
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To "Enough"
The only hallucination concerns your hopes for progress in this country under an ANC government!

by Anita on May 29 2009, 14:42
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Role model can't be a fool
Ms Hellen Zille whatever you say about the President won't prove your abilities as a leader of such a beautiful Province, at the moment you should be concentrating on your duties as the Premier and stop making yourself look good by digging into Zuma's . .more

by Moaneloa on June 05 2009, 08:56
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