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‘Don’t stoke the fire in the DA’

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While on a book tour in Durban, for his new memoir entitled Opposite Mandela, former DA national and parliamentary chief Tony Leon had some advice for the party, whose leadership has been embroiled in a war of words over media leaks and succession. Photo: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Durban - The DA needed to put a lid on the fracas around Helen Zille and former parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, Tony Leon said in Durban on Tuesday.

“What has happened is that instead of concentrating on a very good election outcome, we’ve now got another narrative entirely, and that should be stopped as soon as possible,” the party’s former national and parliamentary chief said.

The fire did not need to be stoked with any more “he said, she said” in the media, remarked Leon, who is promoting his third book, titled Opposite Mandela.

The headline in a Sunday newspaper “Mazibuko nothing without me - Zille”, was deeply destructive for both women.

“It suggests that Lindiwe is sort of a mannequin in a window or some ventriloquist’s dummy. I know Lindiwe, and Lindiwe is a self-confident, intelligent, warm, committed human being.

“I don’t know the inner dynamics of her relationship with Helen, but that headline was very destructive.

“And Helen then got into it and said I didn’t say that, I meant that. When you explain, you lose, as someone said. I don’t think any good comes out of ‘he said, she said’. You must just respectfully starve the fire, not feed the fire as Douglas Gibson (former DA chief whip) said.”

Leon’s advice to the next DA parliamentary leader, whoever it was, was to lead, and that the caucus must allow that person to lead.

“Don’t undermine them with a thousand leaks, and all the things which we’re seeing at the moment, which I think is unedifying. And I think that the DA needs to get on with the voters’ work and not their own business.”

Leon said “nothing irritates voters more” than political infighting.

He was obviously pleased with the performance of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal, having become the official opposition in the province for the first time.

He attributed this to the demise of the Minority Front.

The Mercury


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