Athol Trollip, Democratic Alliance (DA) federal chairperson has denied claims made by former party leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille in a rcent opinion piece, that the party tried to crush her in an attempt to gain black votes.
According to Trollip, far from trying to marginalise Zille in a bid to make her “disappear” and show the party had been “transformed” – as she claimed in the column – they chose to invite her to campaign for the party ahead of the recent 2019 elections.
“To the contrary, actually, she was involved in the campaign right up until the end of the campaign. So, if she was being crushed out of the campaign, she wouldn’t have been participating. Helen Zille participated and promoted the DA across the country; she was an integral part of our campaign,” Trollip said.
Zille did not, however, deny in her column that the DA had asked her for help with their campaign. Rather, she claimed they took a break from their alleged “crush Zille” strategy after deciding they needed her to attract voters, only to resume the strategy as soon as votes had been cast.
“During the election campaign, when the polling started reflecting problems, the party approached me, through an intermediary, to request my assistance. I immediately agreed, and was duly trotted out in scores of meetings, events and interviews, across three provinces,” she wrote.
“Unsurprisingly, as soon as the last ballot was counted, the party took their finger off the pause button of the ‘crush Zille’ strategy.”
According to both Trollip and DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Zille is now just an ordinary DA member following the completion of her tenure as Western Cape premier.
Maimane announced over the weekend that James Selfe would be vacating his position as the party’s federal executive chairperson to head up its newly formed Governance Unit, which Maimane said was “tasked with supporting DA governments to ensure that they deliver better to citizens”.
The South African interpreted this as the party sidelining Zille by deciding not to consider her for the role of heading up the Governance Unit.
The party recently said they would be “taking steps” against Zille due to her recent controversial tweets on the topic of “black privilege“. What this would entail, however, is unclear, as the party has since confirmed that Zille is now nothing more than an ordinary party member. The Daily Maverick has reported that since Zille is no longer in a position of leadership in the party, she is essentially immune from disciplinary action.
In Zille’s opinion piece, which can be read here, she alleges that the DA was forced to join ANC in its adoption of racially divisive politics in a bid to compete with the ruling party. She said she was partially to blame for the party adopting this strategy and that the party later turned on her after adopting the belief that by “crushing” her, it would be able to shed its image as a “white party”.
The ANC’s David Ka-Ndyalvan expressed the view in a response to her column in The Daily Maverick that Zille had shown, in her account of how the party made a conscious decision to shed its reputation of being the political home of white South Africans, that the DA only viewed black people as “decoys and voting cannon fodder”.