Zille should just apologise - Ebrahim Rasool

Former WCape Premier says his successor's confidence is her strength but also her weakness

Zille should just apologise - Ebrahim Rasool

29 May 2017

Cape Town – Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool believes Helen Zille could make life a lot easier for herself if she just apologised fully for her tweets on colonialism.

Zille's disciplinary hearing into her latest Twitter saga has been delayed in recent weeks, with no date being set yet.

The current premier is facing charges of bringing her party into disrepute, after she tweeted on March 16 that not all of colonialism's effects were bad.

Rasool and Zille enjoyed a "good spirited" rivalry while he was premier from 2004 to 2008, and Zille was mayor of Cape Town, he said.

He told News24 on Friday that Zille's response following the social media mishap is what will ultimately define the outcome.

"Helen's strength is her confidence. Helen's weakness is her confidence," he said.

"It's a weakness when that kind of confidence makes her think she has the credibility to just talk about anything, such as be the expert on colonialism, without having been the victim.

"She is the premier of a province where colonialism created a genocide of the Khoi and the San.

"It enslaved the early Malays. It laid the seeds for a culture of rape and abuse of women because of what used to happen on the farms by white farm owners.

"She's just got to find the humility to say, 'I was wrong. I did not understand it, and therefore I apologise'."

He thinks she may get away with it, as the dislike for the ANC nationally may overshadow the issue in the Western Cape.

But it will still damage her image, and that of her party, if she does not respond appropriately heading into the 2019 general elections.

"As long as people are more disenchanted with Jacob Zuma, they will swallow what she says. But she has done herself enormous discredit by being unable to utter a sincere word of retraction and apology."

Rasool has returned to South Africa following a six-year stay abroad, largely as ambassador to the US, and then as a fellow at Georgetown University.

He has no immediate plans to return to provincial politics, but has noted developments with interest.

Water will become the key campaigning point ahead of the 2019 elections. He believes his Cabinet identified then already that the province would be under pressure from 2012.

He said the DA could have put measures in place earlier to prevent the water crisis, while the dams were still at 40%.

As for his own party, he believes the ANC in the Western Cape needs to be more decisive on their stance of what is happening in the party nationally if they are to be a successful opposition in the province.

He said it was easy for the DA to plead moral purity as an opposition party, but less so now as the ruling party.

"I think the Western Cape ANC just has to defend what is going on nationally too much.

"So it's often lacked the moral authority to pick up legitimate issues within the DA, because everyone would just say, 'What about Zuma?'"

The first law of opposition is to play the direct opponent, and they must have the confidence to tackle the DA on their own issues.

"Be visibly part of respectfully, but decisively speaking out against what is going wrong in the ANC nationally. Never appear defensive about it.

"So when the DA brings up Gupta, or Zuma, you can say 'We're against that'."

He also said the decisive way in which they have dealt with suspended chairperson Marius Fransman's disciplinary case will allow the provincial ANC to move on.

Rasool had some advice for parties wishing to campaign in Cape Town and the Western Cape in two years' time.

"We only struck the formula for winning votes from all sectors in 2004 when we appealed to the humanity in people," he said.

"Look for sub-groups within communities. The moment you just speak about 'coloured', you see nothing else.

"What do coloured teachers want? What do factory workers want?"

The moment you speak about generic racial groups, without finding nuance or humanity, you run into problems, he said.

Policies by themselves fluctuate on the basis of trust and fear.

"Parties either win by winning superior trust or creating superior fear."

He said this will enable political parties to win back the trust of people, if they are seen to be treating them as people.