Cape Town - Helen Zille amid the ructions within the DA on Wednesday, took to Twitter and shared Charles Mackay’s poem, No Enemies, saying sometimes a poem “speaks to one’s situation”:
You have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray of duty,
That the brave endure,
Must have made foes!
If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never set the wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight,
Twitter users suggested that the poem was referring to Mmusi Maimane. It was a Twitter war over her controversial views that were it not for colonialism, black people would not have had piped water or a judiciary, for instance, that finally split the two, with the Soweto-born Maimane insisting the system was dehumanising, had caused untold misery and could not be praised in any form.
The DA then banned Zille from all party activities but allowed her to continue her term as Western Cape premier. Instead, when her time was up, Zille returned as federal chairperson of the DA, and Maimane says he was forced to quit as party leader. He is the latest to fall after crossing swords with Zille. The first protégé of Zille’s to jump ship after clashing with her was former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko. Once touted as a future leader of the party, Mazibuko found herself at odds with Zille and eventually left the party and politics in 2014. Mazibuko and Zille were once seen as allies, but that changed.
Then came Mamphela Ramphele in 2014, who joined the DA after she was courted by Zille to move over with her party, Agang. The academic later pulled out of the merger and left politics.
Another prominent corpse left by Zille along the way is Patricia de Lille. In a bid to fortify the rule of the DA in the Western Cape after the 2009 election, Zille was able to woo De Lille to move over to her party when the Independent Democrats was disbanded in 2014. De Lille disbanded her party and moved to the DA, but after a fight with Zille and the party’s top brass, she left in August last year.
Herman Mashaba refused to accept the fact that Zille was making a political comeback. When Zille announced that she would run for the position of federal chairperson in the DA, the mayor of Joburg expressed concerns, and when she was elected at the weekend, Mashaba resigned on Monday.
Mashaba said he was gravely concerned that the DA he signed up to was no longer the DA that had emerged out of this weekend’s federal council.
“The election of Helen Zille as the chairperson of the federal council represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system, and I believe those of most South Africans of all backgrounds,” he said.
“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa in 2019. I cannot reconcile myself with people who do not see that South Africa is more unequal today than it was in 1994.”
Maimane is the latest to fall after crossing swords with Zille. Maimane was elected with much fanfare in 2015 to lead the party, and he was Zille’s blue-eyed boy when she dumped Mazibuko.
One cannot tell exactly when their relationship soured to the point where they could not stand one another, but the most notable incident that played out in the public arena was when Maimane had to rein in Zille after she tweeted about colonialism.
In his resignation announcement yesterday, Maimane said: “Make no mistake, along the journey there have been many difficulties. I fought battles with Helen Zille, especially regarding her comments - and the impact of her comments - as they pertained to colonialism. These sentiments did not help build trust between black and white South Africans, and they undermined the project the party was engaged in.”
The possibility of the resignation of former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip only became apparent a few hours before Maimane’s press conference yesterday. An unexpected victim of Zille, Trollip, who resigned yesterday with Maimane, said he was taking collective responsibility for the party’s dismal failure at the poll in May this year.
As Zille settles down, there are other possible future exits from the DA - DA MP Phumzile van Damme, who was recently locked in a war of words with Zille; Mbali Ntuli, a KZN leader who has been a thorn in Zille’s side; and possibly DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango, who backed Maimane and Trollip before the weekend’s vote.