There was a joke in the “old” South Africa about what the height of stupidity was: Van der Merwe riding through Soweto on a skateboard, flying a Vierkleur and singing “this land is my land”.
Even by the standards of 1980s SA humour it wasn’t very funny, but it does come to mind when looking at Helen Zille’s excursion to Nkandla on Sunday.
For just as Van der Merwe had, theoretically, every right to parade through Soweto during the dog days of apartheid, so too did the DA boss have the law on her side as she led a small delegation to “inspect” President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in the heart of rural KwaZulu-Natal.
The difference, though, is as stark a chasm between the evil stupidity of the then National Party, and the cunning, media-savvy DA.
There was nothing stupid behind the decision to lead a small delegation to Nkandla to supposedly check on how R250 million of taxpayers’ money had been spent on the president’s private dwelling.
Team Zille knew full well that without the protection of the police – about 100 officers along with a police helicopter to monitor proceedings – the DA could have provoked a violent response such as that meted out by Cosatu when the party staged a march on the union federation’s Braamfontein headquarters.
Zille knew her presence would stir a knee-jerk reaction from the ANC. True to form, the ANC organised a mob to block her way. She and her delegation were saved from harm by the police. But the media were there to record the injustice of a no-go area being imposed by members of the ruling party on the leader of the official opposition. Mission accomplished.
Zille’s party had previously asked the auditor-general to probe the scandalous amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on Zuma’s home, a matter that is also being probed by the public protector.
We await the findings of the probe into the spending of taxpayers’ money on the president’s private residence with interest.