Opinion / 13 October 2019, 06:53am / Dennis Pather
Reading about all the goings-on in the embattled DA this week, I couldn’t help recalling a story I was once told.
A group of boys from an up-market precinct had their own football but not enough players to organise a proper match.
They took their ball to a poor neighbouring village and asked the boys there if they’d like to play. The rural boys, too poor to afford their own ball, were thrilled with the idea.
The game was on.
All seemed to be going well until a few minutes before the final whistle when the rich boys, dismayed by the 6-nil drubbing by their opponents, called the game to an abrupt halt and demanded their ball back.
That, I reckon, comes close to summing up the thinking among certain elements in the old guard of the DA who are having second thoughts about having opened up their liberal laager to the wider masses some years ago.
They want the old DA back.
“It’s our party,” the former Progs seem to be saying.
“We acquired it some 60 years ago when its predecessor, the Progressive Party was born. We now want it back.”
Some leaders within the party might wish to put a more positive spin on the imbroglio, dismissing it as little more than a leadership contestation.
Nothing to lose sleep over, they argue. This is just another storm in a teacup that will fizzle out before you can say Jack Robinson.
But will it?
Every time I look, the rift widens even further between the white liberal old guard (some amusingly refer to them as the Freedom Front Lite) and current DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his supporters (let’s call them the ANC Lite).
This is no ordinary leadership tussle. It’s a battle for the very heart and soul of the DA, and the plan to dump Maimane has been plotted with meticulous guile.
First came a smear campaign involving leaks about Maimane and his Steinhoff-sponsored car and trust-owned home in Cape Town, all of which was just the ammunition the old guard needed to stir the pot.
The plot thickened when a high-powered delegation of senior party leaders intervened in the leadership crisis by asking Maimane to quit in the interests of the party.
And then the hardly coincidental announcement by another former DA stalwart, Helen Zille (who’s no friend of Maimane) that she was throwing her hat in the ring for the party’s federal council chairmanship.
It’s as clear as black and white that the DA’s rainbow is beginning to fade somewhat.
The disturbing signs of factionalism within the opposition party do not bode well for either party or country.
For a healthy non-racial democracy to operate and sustain itself, a healthy opposition is just as crucial as a strong government.
A fragmented opposition will simply allow the ruling ANC free rein to deviate from the path of progress and democracy, and that would be disastrous.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.