ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu and DA leader Helen Zille go head to head in the battle for the soul of voters.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu and DA leader Helen Zille go head to head in the battle for the soul of voters.
File picture: Ayanda Ndamane
File picture: Ayanda Ndamane

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu and DA leader Helen Zille go head to head in the battle for the soul of voters.


Helen Zille and the DA have always been hell-bent on protecting white privilege, says Jackson Mthembu.

Despite her self-promotion and claims of being a liberal do-gooder and an anti-corruption crusader, Helen Zille has on the contrary always been concerned with safeguarding white interests, and has never shied away from showering praise on even the most corrupt of apartheid government officials during the past era.

The most telling was her panegyric on Dr Nico Diederichs, a fanatical member of the Broederbond who served as Minister of Economic Affairs from 1958 -1967, Minister of Finance from 1967-1974, and finally in the largely ceremonial position of State President from 1974-1978.

A Broederbonder from when he was young, his position as State President was secured through Broederbond support.

Incredibly, at the time of Diederichs’ death, Helen Zille spoke about him in admiring terms, claiming “his economic brilliance brought him recognition from all over the world”. She heaped praise on him around the same time as stories were surfacing about Diederichs’ involvement in property speculation, bribery and other corrupt activities.

Diederichs’ estate was eventually declared bankrupt as he owed money to everyone from meat suppliers to diamond companies. As one commentator puts it, this was a reflection of Diederichs’ profligacy and healthy appetite for credit, and his connections to various influential lobbying groups.

Despite Zille’s attempts to reinvent herself amid wildly exaggerated claims of courage and trailblazing journalism, the record reveals that she was very much part of the apartheid sycophants who saw only brilliance in the architects of that system – a system that was condemned by the entire world as a crime against humanity. Not surprisingly Zille, who harboured such subservient, flattering sentiments towards corrupt apartheid functionaries, is now reinventing herself as an anti-corruption crusader whose targets are black people associated with the democratic government.

She denounces successful black businesspeople and she does not think it is acceptable that hard-working black businessmen should, like their white counterparts, aspire to become billionaires. She advocates for an inherently racist capitalism in which scorn and ridicule are heaped upon black billionaires while she maintains a stony silence about her white supporters who are very rich from apartheid social engineering.

With her racially tinted lenses Zille can never conceive of any black person who surpasses the “economic brilliance” she saw in apartheid leader Diederichs.

In fact the DA uses the rhetoric about black billionaires as a smokescreen for its long-standing opposition to any laws or measures it sees as promoting a racial transformation or threatening white privilege.

Another facet of Zille and DA anti-black strategy has been the highly personal and defamatory attacks on black civil servants while their white counterparts who blatantly serve DA interests are portrayed as saints. We saw a similar pattern emerging in the wholesale attacks on Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and former National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP) Menzi Simelane.

Also a few months ago the DA-aligned individuals and entities launched scathing attacks on then acting NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba for having the pluck to suggest that Glynnis Breytenbach, a white prosecutor, should be subjected to disciplinary action. They maligned Jiba, and Breytenbach fired the first salvo by claiming in her Labour Court application that Jiba suspended her in an attempt to protect former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli. That tactic partially succeeded in portraying Breytenbach as a victim and shifting the focus away from her despicable conduct, corruption and conflict of interest in the Kumba/ICT matter.

It has now been revealed that Breytenbach is a proud member of the DA and is on its prominent list of deployees to the national assembly. She was in all probability a dedicated DA deployee whose diligent service in the National Prosecution Authority won her a promotion to parliament. Zille has already lauded her for her legal “brilliance” and claimed her deployment to parliament was evidence of DA’s commitment to the rule of law. What rule of law?

Even more shocking, Breytenbach received funding from Natie Kirsch, the same tycoon who funded the botched DA-AgangSA marriage while Breytenbach was actively serving as a prosecutor. In fact evidence is piling up that Breytenbach may have committed acts of corruption while working at the NPA. One can only hope that organisation, the Hawks and Sars will vigorously pursue this matter.

Zille’s choice of leaders in both Patricia de Lille and Dr Mamphela Ramphele as junior partners in the enterprise to defend white interests should not come as a surprise to anyone. White leaders of the DA cherish and nurture blacks they can dominate and buy at fire-sale prices, or those self-hating blacks who regard approval from whites as their ticket to success.

De Lille, a former firebrand leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, has forsaken the pan-Africanist principles she once advocated and the policies of the electoral party she created and joined the DA, and now she is a pathetic, self-serving security guard for the coloured vote in the Western Cape.

In Zille’s world, Ramphele was destined to become another rent-a-black face. Zille counted on the fact that Ramphele has been a loyal servant of those whites who propagate lethal anti-black attacks. Ramphele provided affidavits in the matter involving Judge Hlophe, Mdluli and others but has assiduously avoided criticising whites who are implicated in egregious acts of corruption and price collusion, robbing the poor of their staple diet, and inflating prices in the building of stadiums and rolling out of infrastructure.

Based on her views of blacks as corrupt and money-hungry, Zille assumed that greasing Ramphele’s palm with Kirsch’s money would do the trick. The project fizzled out because it was based on egos and Zille’s racial stereotypes about blacks, and was never based on principles. Evidently, Zille and the DA have no commitment to eradicating racism and fighting corruption, which are the cornerstone of the DA foundation – white corruption and racism.

* Jackson Mthembu is an ANC NEC member and ANC national spokesperson.


The ANC strategy is to divide and rule along historically entrenched fault lines, particularly race and ethnicity, says Helen Zille.

As several commentators have noted, any government with the track record of Jacob Zuma’s ANC should not stand a chance of re-election. Yet, in the real world, it will be a political breakthrough if the ANC merely falls below 60 percent nationally, and below 50 percent in Gauteng.

Despite Zuma’s dismal record, the ANC only needs to follow a simple strategy to win an election. It only has to ensure that the electorate remains divided along historical fault lines, particularly race and ethnicity. The DA has the much harder task of bringing together individuals, who identify with diverse groups, around issues of common interest.

This is much tougher than it sounds, because, in all divided societies, issues relating to identity and group solidarity generally “trump” any other priority.

When the ANC faces the prospect of a serious setback at the polls, as it does now, they will mount the mother of all “divide-and-rule” campaigns. That is the reason that so many “divide-and-rule” bills are being rushed through Parliament before the election.

Take land reform, an issue on which the ANC has lost all credibility. The three pillars of the land reform programme include redistribution, tenure security and land restitution. If land restitution had worked, much progress would have been made in land redistribution, so these programmes cannot be clearly separated from each other.

But what is often ignored, is that 92 percent of all restitution claimants have preferred to take cash payouts, rather than return to the land. So when critics complain about the slow rate of return to the land by dispossessed people, it is important to note that the vast majority of successful claimants until now have chosen not to.

But those who have chosen to return to take their right to land, have found the going tough.

According to the rural development and land reform minister, about 90 percent of such programmes have failed to keep the land productive.This makes poor people poorer, even though they nominally have their land back.

And there remains a serious backlog – involving mainly complicated rural claims – that is having devastating consequences for the claimants and the farmers who are unable to develop or borrow money against land on which a claim has been lodged. An investigation into the restitution process by the Special Investigating Unit found: illegal land grants to the value of at least R96.6 million, 636 examples of non-existent or false beneficiaries, forgery of valuation documents and officials’ family members listed as beneficiaries.

The reason for the failure of the restitution policy is not the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, as the ANC claims. It is the corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and arrogance that has characterised the government’s approach until now. And it is also due to the lack of support provided to new farmers to keep the land productive once it has been transferred.

So how can the ANC possibly use this issue to its electoral advantage?

It is doing so by rushing the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill through Parliament. Its purpose is to deflect attention from past failures by seeking to reopen the “window of opportunity” for land claims until 2019. It says to potential claimants: if you did not lodge a claim by the deadline of 1998, we are giving you another chance to do so now. This offer then becomes the overriding focus of the land debate during the election campaign! Neat.

The government escapes any focus on its disastrous land reform record, while diverting the debate into the most racially divisive and emotive dead-end. Neither the bill, nor the debate on it, will focus on fixing the causes for the failure of land reform thus far, nor on the need to budget for a successful restitution programme, nor on strategies to keep the land productive or the need for final deadlines. It is merely intended to divide South Africans along traditional fault lines.

The massive electoral advantage of this approach for the ANC is obvious. And it is designed to drive a wedge between two components of the DA’s support base.

The only way to approach these dilemmas is to go back to core principles and to work out a fair action plan, even if it has short-term costs. One cannot take short cuts because of a pre-election gimmick by the ANC.

The DA supports an orderly land reform programme that compensates people for verified past dispossession. We believe that if it is well managed, it will boost the rural economy, promote justice, maintain food production and prevent Zimbabwe-style land-grabs (which will become inevitable if we do not manage the process fairly and effectively now).

Our Western Cape provincial Department of Agriculture actively supports farm equity schemes – a reform model with which we have achieved an 80 percent success rate (which is probably why the national department has now stopped funding them).

Very few (if any) of the other restitution models have worked. And this failure will not be solved by reopening the window for lodging claims. On the contrary, it will overload a corrupt and incapacitated system even more and lead to yet longer delays, dispossession and stagnation in the rural economy, which is beginning to undermine food security.

One of the most shocking statistics of the new South Africa is that, of the 120 000 productive farmers in 1994, there are only 37 000 left today. And since Zuma came to power, employment in agriculture – the most labour-intensive sector in the rural economy – has fallen by another 12 percent.

We recognise that people who were deprived of the right to lodge a verifiable land claim before the 1998 deadline should not be penalised because of the state’s inefficiency.

The debate should be about how we find the best possible solution for everyone. But the ANC has already turned this into a race issue, and when emotive rhetoric enters the debate, reason is the first casualty. The DA will approach this matter in a rational, sensible and fair manner.

Only when the conditions for successful restitution are firmly in place, will we support the one last reopening of the window for a limited period, while requiring a fixed time period for the finalisation of all claims.

We cannot support a bill that will result in the further loss of jobs through exacerbating uncertainty in the rural economy, escalating rural decline and jeopardising South Africa’s food security.

* Helen Zille is the DA leader.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

The Star Africa