(image courtesy of http://www.ziyawamag.com)
Yesterday the City Press reported that the DA (Democratic Alliance) is being investigated by national authority’s over its ties to the UK. The story cited the authorities as having three main reasons to justify this. First, they are monitoring the DA because, supposedly, the DA Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, in a meeting with UK officials, including the UK High Commissioner, requested the UK invest 10% of all its economic activities in South Africa in the Western Cape. Second, on a trip to drum up business and tourism in London, the Premier suggested that the ANC will break apart in 7 years. Third, a former aide to Helen Zille has now taken up a position as an aide to UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
Is it just me or does this whole thing sound a little ridiculous?
If these are the three big reasons to investigate/monitor/scrutinize/whatever the DA more closely, then I am surprised more South African’s aren’t outraged.
Helen Zille is the Premier of the Western Cape. A crucial aspect of her portfolio is to increase trade and investment within her province. Attracting Foreign Direct Investment is well with the prerogative of the Premier. If she wasn’t doing that – I would be super concerned about her viability as a leader of a political party and ability to be Premier. Nothing out of the ordinary there, I would think.
As the Leader of the the DA, Zille is a partisan. It is her job to suggest that the governing party is not fit to govern. By suggesting that the tripartite alliance will dissolve in the near future is hardly a shocker. Cracks have been emerging for the last little while now. Actually, I think it would be really healthy for the alliance to end. South Africa, as a democracy, has evolved and stabilized since 1994. Part of any mature/healthy democracy is to have a multiparty electoral system. So – what’s the big deal with such a comment?
The assumption that political parties operate in a vacuum is rather naive. In Canada, I used to work for Liberal cabinet minister. It was not out of the ordinary for other members of my party to communicate, share information on electoral strategies etc…with other like minded parties from different countries. It was a way to ensure ideas stayed fresh and strategies were au courrant. The practice continues into today. The Conservative government has ties with the Liberal Party in Australia. The fact that a former DA aide is now working for Nick Clegg should hardly be viewed as suspicious rather as a compliment to a South African’s abilities. As well, let’s be honest there are many South African’s who hold dual citizenship. It is there right to work and make a life wherever they please.
So – it is based on this logic that I find the whole investigation/monitoring/scrutinizing/whatever more closely of the DA highly problematic.
Why would the government…the ANC government…be so concerned? Why, if there is a legitimate issue, would they threaten national security by making public that they are watching the DA? What is the interest of this wing of the government to confirm reports that they are monitoring a political party in South Africa, that happens to be the main opposition to the government (albeit extraordinarily small and hardly effectual)?
Could it be that the DA continues to hold power in the Western Cape, the ONLY province where the ANC is relegated to the opposition benches? Does the fact that the DA seems to rising in the polls have anything to do with this “monitoring”?
With election posters popping up in and around Johannesburg, I think there is some convenient timing here.
South African’s should be outraged. If there really is an issue – let’s not put forward spurious claims that are hardly a problem or abnormal behaviour comparatively speaking. Tell us what’s really going on…otherwise, I think South African’s should demand that their democratically elected government act with integrity rather than appear to use state resources for crass politics.