SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - Helen Zille was elected Federal Council Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance on 20 October and is now Acting Leader of the DA. After a tumultuous week for the official opposition following her election, Zille will address the Cape Town Press Club on where to now for her and the DA. Pictures/Video: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille does not understand the impact of her race-related comments as she seems takes them lightly despite their hurting the country’s reconciliation project.

This is the view of the DA’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial leader, Zwakele Mncwango, who also labelled Zille’s latest race-related tweets, which have caused a furore, as disappointing.

Mncwango’s comments follow Zille’s post on Twitter earlier this week when she posted a cartoon about land, rape and race generalisations in South Africa.

The cartoon depicted a black man telling a white man to “give back the land you stole”, while the white man responds by saying: “You should be jailed for raping my wife.”

Captioning her tweet, Zille said that the cartoon “captures the fallacy and racism behind generalisations”. However, Mncwango said that Zille’s views were not helping to build the country.

“We need to build the country and we can’t keep provoking each other with such comments, we need to provide a platform of reconciliation, and unfortunately if you make such statements you’re not really building the country towards reconciliation. I don’t know how long we will keep asking these things, but it’s so disappointing,” said Mncwango.

With the DA’s upcoming Federal Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 22, Mncwango said the Federal Council would have to give Zille a platform to explain her views.

“I just hope that one day she (Zille) realises the impact of these tweets and I just hope that one day she will decide to keep these views to herself because they are not helping to build the country, unfortunately,” said Mncwango.

With next year being local government elections year, political analyst Mighti Jamie said that Zille’s comments posed a real risk to the DA’s chances at the polls.

“Politics is a game of being considerate of the electorate and their sentiments on a variety of issues, especially when we look at South Africa’s history of colonialism and apartheid and particularly land dispossession, whether you are looking at the Glen Grey Act, the Native Land Act or the Urban Areas Act,” he said.

“All of those speak to a very real history that people continue to live under because the spatial planning of South Africa continues to exist under apartheid design, so when you make a mockery of that, when you dismiss the real discussion around land reform you are being tone deaf to a large electorate, and especially the younger demographic,” he added.

Jamie said that Zille’s politics was geared towards the older and traditional, predominantly white, DA voter base despite South Africa being increasingly young and black.

“She cannot be dismissive of the same challenges that the DA faced before the appointment of Mmusi Maimane, that they need to grow a black middle-class electorate, as well as appealing to a broad black electorate in South Africa,” said Jamie.

Political Bureau