Zille resigns as DA leader
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HELEN ZILLE’S resignation as DA leader yesterday has been met with mixed reaction by opposition parties, with some expressing shock and surprise, while others welcomed her decision.
Zille announced she was stepping down as the party’s leader after eight years at the helm during a press briefing in Johannesburg yesterday.
Zille said she had spent months wondering whether it was time to go now, ahead of the party’s congress next month, or wait two more years for the congress after that.
She stated, though, that she would continue in her role as the premier of the Western Cape until her second term ends in 2019.
Reacting to Zille’s decision, ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman said yesterday: “Finally, her hypocrisy has caught up with her. She is someone who claims to be a democrat while she knows she is an authoritarian. She is rude and aggressive.
“Under her watch, the DA has become more of a provincial party, just like the National Party 20 years ago. She could not increase votes nationally. The DA has become more racist than before.”
EFF provincial leader Nazier Paulsen accused Zille and her party of “embracing white supremacy” in the Western Cape.
“We were going to take her down like a statue, and we are disappointed she won’t be there for 2019. She knows it’s the end of her political party. Her party’s policies are never going to resolve the country’s problems. We must not be fooled by her resignation. (But) despite everything else, she stood her ground and that’s what made her a formidable politician,” said Paulsen.
African Christian Democratic Party president Kenneth Meshoe said Zille’s announcement came as a surprise as people were looking to her to challenge the ANC.
“The fact that she was a seasoned politician, she must have been advised to make this decision. She must have been convinced to step down in the interest of the party. Her decision must be respected, and we wish her well with her future endeavours.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Zille’s decision did not come as a surprise as there has been speculation about it in the media.
“We would be making a very big mistake if we say she was not a hard worker. She has done a far better job than other political parties. She has done a lot of good things, especially in developing the youth in the black community.
Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota said: “Over the last two decades, she has been a servant and an advocate of our constitution. She has been a tireless monitor of adherence by government to the provisions of the constitution.
“Cope trusts that her contribution to the process of democratising South Africa especially at this time will not be entirely lost after she bows out.”
Zille said: “This decision has paradoxically been a long time coming, but when the time was right, it was taken quickly, even suddenly.
“On Thursday last week, I took a firm decision that I would not stand for re-election as leader next month. The overriding reason has been what I believe are interests of the DA.”
She said the good thing about her decision was that the campaign that will determine the DA’s next leader will be “short and sharp, given that our elective congress is four weeks away”.
Zille said this avoided the potential for a debilitating contest that deflected attention and effort away from the DA’s core functions, which inevitably happened when a leadership race drags out for long periods.