A Public Representative resigned from the DA. So what?
Helen Zille |
05 August 2022
Helen Zille writes on the double-standards most of the media continue to apply to the official opposition
A Public Representative resigned from the DA. So What?
A political party is a voluntary association of people who (despite their many differences) come together to advance certain values that underpin policies they believe will be in the best interests of the country.
In a voluntary association, people can come and go as they like, and they do, for a host of reasons.
It is so normal that it almost never makes news.
Unless, of course, the party involved happens to be the DA, and a departing public representative happens to be black. Then they become an overnight celebrity and are elevated, retrospectively, to a position of “senior leadership” in the party (which is rarely the case).
These news items tell you more about the state of the media than they do about the DA.
Most of all, they illustrate the double-standards most of the media apply to the DA.
For example, over the past year, ActionSA has lost double the number of “senior black leaders” (six) in comparison to the DA (three). What’s more, most of the ActionSA’s ex-leaders were “purged”, unlike the DA’s representatives who voluntarily moved on.
Another example: the ANC, once a non-racial party, still uses the term to describe itself, but would battle to produce the evidence. It is almost entirely a uniracial party today -- a transition that has happened without media commentary of which I am aware.
In fact, most South Africans would be hard-pressed to name a single white person in the ANC, apart from Carl Niehaus (and, goodness knows, the ANC has been trying hard to expel him too).
Since the passing of Jessie Duarte, the ANC’s “top six” has followed most of the rest of the party into racial uniformity. Not only are they all black, they are all male as well.
If the DA’s leadership was the mirror image of that, the media would disintegrate in an apoplectic melt-down. The DA is the only party from which they demand diversity (and whatever we do is never enough).
The truth is that we are the only party that actually values diversity, which we seek to promote through merit-based selection processes. We have learnt many lessons of the past, where in some cases, other criteria were applied.
Another inconvenient truth the media will never acknowledge, is that the DA has more black public representatives today than most parties in Parliament almost all of which are black-led.
And, way more black public representatives, if you apply the broad definition of “black” as our critics inevitably do when they make a one-sided tally to show how many “black leaders” are supposedly leaving the DA.
If I had to compile a list, using the same broad definition of “black”, the number of public representatives who remained in the past year, would outnumber those who have left by about 250:1.
So, I will only use the narrow definition for my purposes here, which is to list some of the DA public representatives who remained or joined the DA in various spheres of government, countrywide in the past year.
The list is not exhaustive, and I expect to be criticised by some I may have inadvertently omitted. We do not engage in racial classification in the DA so drawing up a list like this is highly unusual, but I do it for the purposes of rebutting racist criticism from the media and so-called “analysts”.
In fact, far more of my colleagues in the list below will be angry because they have been identified on the basis of their race. They will, correctly, tell me that they joined the DA, and competed for an electable position, precisely to get away from apartheid pigeon-holes.
I accept that valid criticism and apologise in advance. But we have to draw a line with those who, under the veil of political analysis, seek nothing but our demise.
Most of the colleagues listed here diligently get on with their work, just like most others in the party. They do not seek to achieve celebrity status. The best among them will emerge in the top leadership ranks over time. They will work their way up, not be parachuted in. As it should be.
Most of them know that the media would turn every one of them into instant heroes if they resigned, for whatever reason, and issued a press statement to make sure the world knows.
Fortunately, the vast majority of them are too committed to the service for which they were elected to ever consider that.