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DA leader Helen Zille has stirred her way into a Twitter storm again after posting “controversial” pictures online during her weekend election campaigning in Bodibe in North West.
In one picture Zille is stirring a traditional pot dressed in a blue dashiki and a matching headscarf adorned with the DA logo.
The picture was accompanied by the caption: “Cooking lunch after the rally at the Prince’s homestead! Great meal!”
The other picture is of Zille arriving at the rally on a donkey cart with a blue beach umbrella accompanied by Prince Keorapetse Motlhako of the Barolong people. It was reported that during the rally the people of Barolong called Zille Masechaba, or mother of the nation.
While some have come out praising Zille for being “the change and diversity that South Africa needs”, others have slammed her for “trying too hard” and for a patronising attitude towards black people. Zille tweets regularly and has had a few memorable Twitter spats in past months.
Zille spokesman Cameron Arendse explained that Zille was at the village to welcome 500 new DA members and that she was invited by the prince to ride on the donkey cart.
“After the rally, Motlhako asked that we have lunch with him at his homestead and we received a tour of the feast that they prepared for everyone in the village. The DA has supporters in every community, in every province, across South Africa, and will always ensure that we respect the cultural traditions of all communities we visit.”
Political analyst Steven Friedman said Zille was using a “common political tactic” of politicians all over the world to identify with different cultures. “The important thing is how the people she was interacting with received it,” he said
“I don’t think it will win her tons of votes… (or) increase her credibility. The people who were there will determine that,” said Friedman
Another independent political analyst, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, told the Cape Argus that the issue of identity was complex.
“Usually when other cultures reach out to others it’s celebrated and welcomed as it promotes a multicultural society.
“But there is a problem when it’s used instrumentally during election campaigns,” said Fikeni
“It’s noted that she (Zille) makes appearances in traditional clothes during the season of campaigning and when that is gone it’s back to normal. There is no consistency and that is somewhat unsettling,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cosatu’s Tony Ehrenreich has called on Zille to debate the Western Cape economy with him.
In a statement, the federation’s regional secretary said: “Cosatu Western Cape is surprised about the attempts of Premier Zille… to demand to debate President Zuma on the economy.
“The secretary of Cosatu Western Cape invited Zille to a debate on the W Cape economy previously, after she had closed down the provincial Nedlac, because she does not want to engage workers on the economy.”