The future of the DA-governed metros in Gauteng hang in the balance after EFF leader Julius Malema threatened to pull out of the coalition if Helen Zille is not removed as Western Cape premier.
The ultimatum comes after the former DA leader was on Wednesday suspended from all party activities by the party’s highest decision-making body, the federal executive.
Zille has been accused of damaging the DA’s image and bringing it into disrepute over her tweets praising certain aspects of colonialism.
She is due to appear before the DA’s independent disciplinary body, the federal legal commission (FLC), chaired by advocate Glynnis Breytenbach.
Yesterday, Malema issued an ultimatum to the official opposition to remove Zille as premier or risk losing the metros of Tshwane and Joburg, which the DA runs in coalition with the EFF.
“They must be warned. You will remain with Western Cape, with Johannesburg and Tshwane gone. We don’t want to associate with a party that protects colonialism and apartheid. We are (almost there with regards) to withdrawing our votes in those municipalities if you don’t suspend Helen Zille as premier.
“We are not going to allow that nonsense to continue,” said Malema.
He warned that the DA might not be able to unseat the ANC in the 2019 national elections if it continued in its current trajectory.
Malema characterised Zille as the “Zuma of the DA”, saying: “Helen Zille, if she was indeed believing she was treated unfairly, she must resign and still take the DA to court just to clear her name.
“But to allow her party... to deteriorate this much, then she is no different from Zuma. She is compromising the 2019 project of removing the ANC.”
Malema suggested the DA was pulling wool over people’s eyes by suspending Zille from party activities and not from her position as premier.
“How is Helen Zille going to get a mandate if she is not attending DA meetings? Zille is supposed to attend a caucus. Who is Zille representing in the Western Cape Legislature?”
Malema reiterated that DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s authority was being “undermined” in his party.
Contacted for comment, Maimane said the DA was “a party of due process”.
“The party’s federal executive decided to suspend Ms Zille pending the outcome of her disciplinary hearing which starts on June 9. We will await that outcome before a decision on any further action is taken,” Maimane said.
He said if the EFF was happy to “fold their arms” and abstain from voting, “then the people of South Africa must know that it was the EFF who handed power back to the corrupt, Gupta-controlled ANC.
“Malema has said things in public that I do not agree with, and that threaten the project of reconciliation in South Africa. Nevertheless, we are working together in the interests of South Africa.”
Former DA leader Tony Leon called on Zille to quit, saying he regarded the events around her as “deeply troubling both for her and the party unless this matter is shut down sooner, not later”.
“This matter and its continuance is a massive distraction from the core business of the DA... I hope Helen will reflect intensely on the enormity of her previous contribution to the party and SA and not let her legacy be defined by this matter. Sometimes in politics you must quit while you are ahead,” he said from London.
Zille’s supporters in the executive, however, have said they were hopeful that she would get a fair hearing.
Jacques Small, the DA’s leader in Limpopo, known as a Zille stronghold, said: “We are hopeful that the FLC will have a good outcome that will be fair.
“But if we are not happy with certain aspects of the outcome it can be sent back (to the FLC).”
DA Western Cape acting leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, viewed as a staunch Zille supporter, said he would be “naive” if he said the Zille matter would not have an impact on the party. Repeated attempts to get comment from Zille were fruitless.