Zille and all that Mmusi Jazz

A ploy to raise the stakes in bid for Presidency?

IT WAS inevitable that the opposition Democratic Alliance would arrive at its own Rubicon. The saga involving party stalwart Helen Zille, what she said or didn’t say, what was meant or not meant, the affectations of white liberal insiders, the embarrassing grand old colonial edifice and all its past glories, suddenly rendered impotent by a growing and vocal group of black entrepreneurs to its left and the irony of a conservative Afrikaner establishment to its right. Let’s just say that the old model of opposition politics no longer holds.

While cavalier, Mmusi Maimane was certainly reading the mood of the electorate, setting the stage for the 2019 general election, and his run for President in standing firmly against superiority, class attitudes and snobbery within his own party. Admittedly with this type of populism, it is all about political demeanour, perceptions and the will of the masses on the ground.

That national student movements such as SASCO found themselves weighing in on the subject, meant the DA, an alliance if ever there was one, was suddenly finding itself cast into the national spotlight. Provincialism of the kind articulated by Zille and her followers had no place. And hence while some bemoaned the outcome, a tragic fait accompli, it was inevitable that the party would find itself at a cross-roads, with a choice of futures. Can the DA ever hope to govern the nation, without creating tensions amongst its provincial partners?

It was no less than Douglas Gibson who first characterised the problem, Zille was past her sell-by-date. Thus Tony Leon soon found himself publicly praising Maimane for taking tough action against Helen over the colonialism tweets. While the prevarications and equivocations by the premier went from bad to worse. That the Cape Town lady was deploying the politics of World War 2 in her defence, admittedly of an Asian economic model merely made her arguments seem antiquated.

This was not a society gone racially mad but a case of corrective action, a necessary medicament arising from the furore surrounding a simple online tweet, and requiring a better perspective, than the past fiasco which had been a case of not growing up, or too much too soon —  the party head-hunted struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele mid-flight, in the last general election was unable to broker an effective alliance with its grass-roots ticket and thus a broad coalition of partners that could have produced a major victory for moderate black voters and their allies in the civil service and SOEs.

If the party is to have any hope of winning the next general election, it has to move forward under its current leadership. There are a number of caveats. Can the social wage be protected if not by social democrats? Whereto the provinces versus the national vote? Is there a way of saving the Western Cape’s unique character, given that the DA is an alliance, which has done remarkably well in South Africa’s metros? Where to Mmusi from here?

It was thus apt, that Zille announced her suspension today, with a tweet “DA has suspended me. They have agreed I can share my reasons why I should not have been suspended. Here they are:

Screenshot from 2017-06-08 18-51-45

Only time will tell whether or not this emerging political formation, untrammelled by the corruption within the current Zuma administration, and unhindered by the ideological baggage of the far-left, will pull through to its destiny in a future national cabinet. My bet is surely on Maimane for president, and come the next election, anything but the current Mafiosi state of Jacob Zuma.

I was banned on Black Wednesday

This is the email I sent out yesterday:


Today, I awoke to find out that I had been banned by Politicsweb.

Being banned on “Black Wednesday” is more than a little ironic. The centre-right political site, which carries commentary from political parties and commentators, but more often than not, right-wing screeds from the likes of RW Johnson, who once referred to black persons as ‘baboons and monkeys’ on the London Review of Books Blog, and who was subsequently labeled a racist by 73 prominent writers and academics, has banned me from participating in online discussion because of my views on #FeesMustFall.

The banning comes in the wake of comments posted under a piece by William Saunderson-Meyer, blaming the EFF for campus unrest.

Banned by Politicsweb

Following a Cabinet decision, taken on 18 October 1977, the apartheid government, by proclamation under the Internal Security Act, “declared 19 organisations unlawful and apprehended around 70 leading Africans. A number of people were placed under restriction, including Donald Woods who was editor-in-chief at the Daily Dispatch. It also closed down the daily newspaper ‘The World’ and its associated ‘Weekend World’. The actions provoked worldwide shock and protest.”

It is an opportune moment to remember that journalists always run the risk of raising the ire of politicians everywhere and that the fourth estate is under serious threat from growing electronic surveillance, decreasing profitability, rapid changes in the public’s media habits (with the resulting loss of influence), and that South Africa has a unique history when it comes to press censorship.

As a simple banned person, one of hundreds of students banned en masse by the apartheid government during the student revolt of 1987, and who subsequently joined the armed struggle and its organs of struggle the anti-apartheid press, I believe that I have a unique position to comment on the student revolts of our time.

Given the justice system’s contempt for the TRC Act and the constitution, I believe the fallists are completely entitled to be engaging in acts of civil disobedience. Allowing apartheid denial to go unpunished and its perpetrators to escape justice, has resulted in the absurd situation where its victims are unable to seek redress. If some 6000 members of Khulumani are sitting without legal representation, and I myself do not possess an attorney at state expense in a TRC-related case, what hope is there for future acts of reconciliation and the next generation? The generation of today has an important message for the nation’s adults who have forgotten the teargas and rubber bullets of the past.

Insurrection against the apartheid government was always the modus operandi of the struggle press. It is titles such as South, New Nation and Grassroots which carried the banner of defiance and which alongside the Rand Daily Mail, Daily Dispatch and Weekend World need to be remembered and treasured. It is a crying shame that the press of today have turned into nothing more than sycophants of neoliberalism, and that Politicsweb, one of the few online spaces to not close down its comments section, has seen fit to ban me on Black Wednesday.