The great DA 'sky is falling' hysteria

David Bullard says reports of the official opposition's demise are greatly exaggerated

No free “Out to Lunch”

Well before I was invited by James Myburgh to become a regular columnist to Politicsweb in January 2019 I decided to become a subscriber to the website. The annual amount involved was derisory and probably worked out to the equivalent of one Woolies grande-cappuccino a week. For that I would receive well informed political and economic analysis plus some finely-honed commentary.

We don’t sell newspapers at cafes or at street corners and online advertising doesn’t pay the bills. So the harsh reality is this…. if you want to continue reading first class copy that reflects your political views and carries some weight then you also need to chip in.

And when you do tell your friends to do the same…with your support we can only get better. – DB


As followers of this column will know, I took a short break in the bush last week and was without laptop and reliable connectivity which is why the column didn’t appear. However, being a news junkie I did follow events on my iPhone and in the short time I was away the official opposition appeared to have undergone some major surgery which led to our somewhat hysterical leftist media variously describing it as an “implosion” or “a train smash” and such similar hyperbolic drivel.


In fact it was nothing of the sort but several things came together to allow the DA haters in the mainstream media free rein when it came to putting the boot in.

Let’s assume that the return of Helen Zille as chair of the DA’s Federal Council was the catalyst for subsequent events. Then came the resignation of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and the former parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane plus a sprinkling of other resignations.

I confess to having huge respect for both these gentlemen but politics isn’t for sissies and when you gotta go then you gotta go. Having spent a few days in Johannesburg I think I can reliably report that it’s descent into what Donald Trump would probably describe as a “shithole” is well under way.

Returning to the Western Cape was truly like coming back to the first world from a third world destination. So it was no great shock to learn that Mr Mashaba, as he approaches his 60th birthday next year, decided to call it a day. Trying to turn Johannesburg around after years of ANC looting is a task that even Hercules would have shunned.

Being constantly vilified and criticized by the media must eventually take its toll on even the most civic-minded politician so it came as no surprise that Mr Mashaba made the decision to quit as mayor using Zille’s re-emergence as a convenient cover.

According to press reports, Mr Maimane was a fairly recent convert to the DA having previously been an ANC voter. Sadly, he joined the party when they were going through their Henry (you can have any colour you like as long as it’s black) Ford leadership quest, wooing all sorts of wholly inappropriate and ultimately fickle dark skinned candidates in the mistaken belief that what the voters want is not honest and dedicated politicians, but politicians who reflect the demographics of the country.

The truth I suspect is that most voters couldn’t give a toss about a politician’s skin colour providing he/she gets the job done and doesn’t raid the cookie jar. The charming and urbane Mmusi Maimane eventually became party leader after several disastrous experiments with others and all looked fine until the last election.

While the election results were far from disastrous they certainly weren’t what the party caucus was hoping for. So, as in business, heads must roll when targets are not met and it was Maimane’s head that had to roll.

Inevitably this would lead to lots of ill informed chatter about the party becoming increasingly “white supremacist” and “right wing” but the reality remains that the DA preside over the best run province in SA so they must be getting something right.

Maybe it’s time South Africans grew up. I know democracy is still a fairly new experience here on the southern tip but all political parties go through turmoil at some stage of their existence. We might take comfort from the fact that the top two political parties in the UK are experiencing such turmoil now, as is the Democratic Party shambles in the US.

However, the one person who is guaranteed to get the lefty’s blood pressure up is Helen Zille and her return to politics from a very brief sojourn at the Institute of Race Relations is to be welcomed as is John Steenhuisen’s appointment as parliamentary leader.

Both have an impeccable record of political integrity and a reputation for not being afraid to tell it like it is; a quality that is in short supply in the crybaby world of confected outrage in which we appear to live.

Apart from the petty squabbles within the party, two major criticisms are frequently leveled against Zille and the DA by the usual suspects. One is the mismanagement of Day Zero as Cape Town was on the verge of running out of water last year. Far from being mismanagement, it was a stroke of sheer genius on the DA’s part to create an awareness campaign that has resulted to this day in Capetonians using half the amount of water they were using eighteen months ago.

The prospect of 4 million residents queuing for 25litres of water a day at 20000 distribution points was exactly what was needed to scare them into reducing their water consumption.

The other is the matter of Zille’s controversial tweets, particularly her “terribly hurtful and sensitive comments about colonialism” after she returned from a trip to Singapore. If you’ve ever driven on a road in SA, used an electrical appliance, turned on a water tap, been treated in a modern and well equipped hospital, shopped at a well-stocked supermarket, enjoyed a glass of wine in the Cape or played sport then you have unequivocally benefitted from the legacy of colonialism. To argue otherwise is to completely ignore the evidence. Was it much fun when colonialism was taking place? Probably not for the colonized at the time but since pretty well every country in the world has been subjugated by a superior power at some point in its history it remains a mystery to me why so many South Africans believe they qualify for special victim status.

Quite why anybody would want to knuckle down and try and build a better South Africa at age 67 is beyond me. Particularly as it involves being constantly subject to scrutiny and insult from an openly hostile media whose main aim seems to be to hasten our journey to Venezueladom.

Having said that, I’m very pleased Helen Zille and others within the DA are prepared to make so many personal sacrifices just so fellow pensioners like me can continue to enjoy long liquid lunches in the Western Cape. Having watched the smirking Baleka Mbete being interviewed on Al Jazeera recently the alternative to the DA is just too terrible to contemplate.