In the months leading to Mangaung (as the 53rd ANC congress is affectionately referred to), the Democratic Alliance has been chanting how Jacob Zuma’s re-election will be cause for celebration on their part. But in all honesty, the DA’s chant was more of a scare tactic than anything else. Most of its electorate is acquired through instilling fear in them and creating confusion amongst them. In this instance, their attempts can be construed as a way of saying to the ANC memebership “don’t you dare re-elect Zuma, because it will have adverse effects on your organisation”. In a somewhat enigmatic manner, it seemed as if the DA dared fate. On the 18th of December 2012, Jacob Zuma was re-elected as the ANC president. Social media went abuzz, mostly with dissatisfaction and dismay at Zuma’s re-election. In the midst of it all, there was an element of misguided euphoria in the DA camp. People’s shock reaction, which one still fails to understand why were they even shocked, let to them telling how they will join the DA. What was more interesting is the reaction of the DA camp, it was quite disappointing for people one has always mistook for seasoned politicians. Lindiwe Mazibuko in particular, celebrated as if the DA had just won the country’s general elections.
Zuma’s re-election should have immediately been the DA’s free lesson number one, that being how misleading social media can be. Only on social media and surveys that lack credibility was Zuma a goner. Social media, and media at large, is packed with commentary that is from people who have no, or limited, influence when it comes to ANC processes. Most of those who promised to jump ship are not even members of the ANC. Members of the ANC are those who were casting their votes in Mangaung. Furthermore, those at Mangaung were representing views of their branches. By celebrating tweets and mistaking them for action on the part of ‘disgruntled’ South Africans, the DA is setting itself up for disappointment, yet again. By no means am I suggesting that social media has no influence, but the DA needs more than favourable remarks on social media before it starts celebrating.
What is more shocking is Helen Zille raising concern about the disintegration of the ANC due to Zuma’s re-election. Was she not supposed to be celebrating? This rubberstamps that the DA’s chant was a mere bluff. Cyril Ramaphosa is one addition to the ANC’s top six that rocks the DA’s boat. From Helen Zille’s attempts to discredit him as a leader of the people, it is quite evident that sees him as a figure that adds credibility to the ANC’s top six. Zille took to twitter to mock Ramaphosa’s comrade status and his links to the working class. This i found interesting as Zille has always declared the DA a pro-poor party. I then engaged Zille on twitter, she was quick to pull the ’buffalo card’ on Ramaphosa, saying she never made an ‘R18million’ bid for a buffalo. It is needless to say I was quick to point out that she never made such a bid because she does not have that kind of money. In what was a clear exhibition of Zille undermining people’s intelligence, she brought up the Nkandla issue while Ramaphosa was the subject of our interaction, this was a clear attempt to paint a picture of Ramaphosa as being ‘pro-corruption’. Just because Ramaphosa made multimillion rand bid for a buffalo, does that now make Zille more pro-poor than him?
What must be taken into consideration, more often than not, Helen Zille’s comments undermine the very electorate that the DA hopes to take away from the ANC. By attacking Ramaphosa, Zille effectively suggested that black leaders associated with the ANC cannot be correct ones. By raising the issue of Nkandla while discussing Ramaphosa’s exhibition of wealth, Zille tends to indirectly insinuate that ‘black wealth’ can be linked to what is seen and perceived as corruption. Her attacks further create an impression that according to her, ANC members (who are predominately black) cannot make right choices, and it is only her who knows what is right for them. Zille, ‘miss I know it all’. Her actions have smacks of white supremacy, which further alienates black South Africans from the DA. Even the black faces that surround Zille in the DA are not enough to buffer effects of such actions, or such interpretations to her actions. The DA will not gain any membership of significance from the re-election of Jacob Zuma. If ever the DA was to make any gains, Zille’s actions and remarks will definitely reverse that. Whether intentionally or not, Zille continues to be one of the driving forces behind racially polarised South African politics. Beyond Mangaung, the DA still has its work cut out en route to the 2014 general elections. It will take more than a Zuma re-election to bolster the DA to power. If anything, Zuma’s landslide victory should be demoralising to the DA as it disproves their theory of a more divided ANC. By re-electing Helen Zille at their recent conference, the DA missed an opportunity to remove an obstacle that hampers their efforts to grow the party’s membership. As if the dominance of the ANC, and its appeal to the majority of South Africans does not make it hard for the DA to achieve accelerated growth, having Helen Zille at the helm of DA can only make the task harder. Zille is the prominent stumbling block to the DA’s desired growth in terms of the black electorate. The back of Helen Zille will be a victory for, and within, the DA. The enemy of the DA lies within, Helen Zille.