Patriotic Alliance: Helen Zille thinks she is in charge of the government of national unity

Leader of the Democratic Alliance’s federal council, Helen Zille. File Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Leader of the Democratic Alliance’s federal council, Helen Zille. File Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 19, 2024


The Patriotic Alliance (PA) led by Gayton McKenzie has rubbished assertions by chairperson of the DA’s federal council Helen Zille, who told the SABC during an interview on Tuesday that members of the PA should not expect to be part of the Cabinet without the DA being consulted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa was on Wednesday sworn in at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and is now expected to appoint members of his Cabinet, which will make the seventh administration of South Africa.

Zille said in her remarks: “We have to be consulted about it, and in fact, clause 17 (of the GNU agreement) says whilst recognising the prerogative to appoint members of the executive, such appointments should be done in consultation with the leaders of the respective parties of the members considered for appointment.

“So you can’t just let anybody come in without consulting with us and then he makes the appointments in consultation with the leaders of the parties who have been accepted for admission into the GNU … The ANC can’t bring in people that they feel like bringing in,” Zille told the national broadcaster.

Helen Zille. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Zille’s statement followed ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula claiming the ANC’s doors remain open to parties that want to partake in the unity government.

Following the May 29 general elections, the African National Congress (ANC) received its worst election result since apartheid ended 30 years ago in South Africa. The ANC garnered 40% of the vote, losing its absolute majority in Parliament.

However, Ramaphosa has officially begun his second term after his party formulated a government of national unity (GNU) incorporating its decades-old rival, the Democratic Alliance and other parties, including the Patriotic Alliance.

Leader of the Patriotic Alliance, Gayton McKenzie. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Secretary general of the PA, Chinelle Stevens, said the ANC has made it clear that the Patriotic Alliance and other parties were invited into the government of national unity, long before signing any document with the DA.

“What Helen Zille clearly fails to grasp is that the PA also signed a statement of intent to form part of the GNU on the same day the DA did – and there can be no possible reason for the ANC to have to ask for the DA’s permission to include willing parties in a grand coalition that can govern the country with or without the DA. The GNU is still in the process of being constituted. Until it is, Helen Zille does not need to be consulted,” said Stevens.

“We will all happily listen to her opinions later, once it is (constituted), and no doubt she will provide them. It was and remains the ANC’s decision to invite all parties to join its GNU. The DA decided to be one of those parties, but Helen Zille now wants to act as though the DA has the right to be the gatekeeper for the ANC.

“As the PA, we would be lying if we say we are shocked. We have been victims of such short-sighted vindictiveness at the hands of Zille and the DA more times than we can count. Her style of negotiation is to humiliate instead of finding consensus. It must always be her way or the highway.”

Stevens said by agreeing to join the GNU, the Patriotic Alliance showed a willingness to bury the hatchet with the DA.

“We joined the GNU because we must now put South Africa first. The real issue here is that the DA, by its leader’s own admission, sees the Western Cape as its entitlement, its homeland, and no other party should dare go there to campaign, lest they upset John Steenhuisen,” she said.

“The PA not only dared, but we have enjoyed great political success in the Western Cape. The DA’s obsession with keeping us out of its provincial fortress has now sadly spilled over to the GNU. We call on the ANC to recognise this moment, dismiss Helen Zille’s sour grapes and petty provincial conceits, and do the right thing for South Africa.”

She said to allow the DA to dictate to the ANC who it can and cannot invite into its coalition government will send only one message - that Helen Zille finally has the entire ANC where she wants it, to do her bidding.

“Helen Zille can only be satisfied when she is obeyed without question. Power has turned her into the very thing she once fought against: deranged demagoguery. We, as the PA, will now await the next move of the ANC with interest. We thought the GNU was about putting party differences aside and working together for the good of South Africa and its citizens. Even the DA leader in his first speech in Parliament emphasised this,” said Stevens.

“Perhaps we are the ones with the dementia, though, and instead it is about Helen Zille thinking she is in charge of the new government of national unity.”