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Heretical Helen

One of the deadliest political put-downs I have seen was actually framed as a compliment. The then prime minister, BJ Vorster, when commenting on the performance of United Party leader Sir de Villiers Graaff, emphasised his gentleman-like qualities and concluded that no prime minister could have wished for a more suitable leader of the opposition. It was a calculated piece of damning with faint praise by Vorster. Graaff was, in truth, an ineffectual leader of an ineffectual party that from 1948 onwards consistently failed to challenge the rampant Nationalists, despite enjoying the support of a substantial section of the white electorate almost to the end.

Recently Jack Bloom, the long-serving DA MPL from Gauteng, told me bluntly that popularity with the ruling regime is the kiss of death for an opposition party. Opposition parties should seek not to be liked by the government, but respected. Those that are liked end up being consistently punished at the polls.

If being disliked by the ruling group is one of the requirements of being an effective opposition leader, Helen Zille has been doing rather well of late. The sheer viciousness of the ANC’s attacks on her indicates that she is at least taken seriously. This abuse has included several of its affiliates resorting to the crudest sexual slurs more appropriate to a school playground. The ANC Youth League and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association have made the puerile and revolting assertions that Zille appointed men to her Western Cape Cabinet in return for sexual favours.

“The ANCYL has exposed itself as deeply sexist and racist, spewing out ill-composed nonsense, all the while exhibiting to all that its leaders do not possess an iota of understanding of the values upon which a successful democratic state should be built,” was Willem Punt’s take on the situation. Punt is an associate director of the Ethics Institute of SA. That about puts it in a nutshell, I’d say.

It was the composition of Zille’s cabinet that the ANC proper chose to exploit as a means of discrediting her. On May 18 it declared: “Zille is a racist (why, exactly?), who supports the patriarchal system that has upheld the subjugation and exclusion of women from participation in the running of the affairs of our country.”

Zille, you see, has committed heresy; she has disregarded the prevailing policy of racial and gender quotas and — shock, horror! — based her choice of MECs apparently on merit! How un-South African, lamented the ANC; how “out of touch with the mood of the nation, the region, the continent and the world”.

I think everyone will agree that when Zille selected her cabinet, she did not deliberately set out to exclude women. What on earth could she have gained, and how much was there to lose, by practising gender discrimination? It can only be assumed that she chose those whom she genuinely felt were best suited to do the job.

As a white, Jewish male, I abhor the whole concept of quotas. They remind of bygone times when only a limited number of Jews were allowed to attend universities. Some might argue that this is negative discrimination, whereas the quota system in this country is positive discrimination, but I don’t buy that. When someone is given an important position of responsibility solely for racial or gender reasons, it correspondingly means that someone else has missed out because they fail to satisfy those criteria. In other words, positive discrimination benefiting some inevitably results in negative discrimination disadvantaging others. There is no getting away from that.

Zille has been excoriated, in fact, not for discriminating against women but because she refused to discriminate against men. In doing so she has struck an important blow for those who believe that if you are good enough you will get ahead regardless of whether you stand up or sit down to urinate. Good for her!


  • David Saks has worked for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) since April 1997, and is currently its associate director. Over the years, he has written extensively on aspects of South African history, Judaism and the Middle East for local and international newspapers and journals. David has an MA in history from Rhodes University. Prior to joining the SAJBD, he was curator -- history at MuseumAfrica in Johannesburg. He is editor of the journal Jewish Affairs, appears regularly on local radio discussing Jewish and Middle East subjects and is a contributor to various Jewish publications.


  1. Nomikos Nomikos 19 May 2009

    I agree with you that Zille should not backtrack now. That would be fatal. However, the real test will be whether the Zille all male cabinet makes the different expected from a cabinet chosen on merit instead of political correctness and party loyalists. Only time will tell.

  2. Frank Nnete Frank Nnete 19 May 2009


    With respect, i think you’ve missed the point. First, you assume-for Zille to be guilty of unfair practice she would have to have actively picked men over women. Not so. The system of patriarchy, like racism, is subtle & coded…So that you could imperceptibly be reinforcing it by simply ‘doing things uncritically’.

    Second, the notion of positive discrimination is a ‘summa totalis’ concept. That is to say, it is concerned with an end-goal rather than the process per se. Perceiving this practice in individualistic terms detracts from its raison d’être…

  3. Siphiwo Siphiwo Siphiwo Siphiwo 19 May 2009

    “As a white, Jewish male…blah blah blah”

    So typical of you…so predictable.

    “Zille’s actions have given the lie to any idea that a white-led party can ever lead this country. Instead of confounding black fears about her party, Zille has simply confirmed them. She may have done greater damage to the DA than she cares to imagine..” Xolelwa Mangcu writes.

    “I am astounded and dismayed by Zille’s choice of cabinet.
    I wonder where she has been for the past decade, for she’s behaving like some kind of mad Rip van Winkle waking up out of a deep apartheid sleep.” Carmel Rickard writes.

    In sharp contrast to Zille’s hostile attitude towards the new president, Trollip yesterday promised to treat Zuma with respect…I believe he does deserve a level of respect by virtue of his position as president. I also believe that presidential deference in Africa has been one of our main problems.” Trollip responds.

    “I believe his position warrants respect. I come to this Parliament with no baggage and I’m going to give Mr Zuma the same privilege,”

    “to suggest that an all-male, largely pale cabinet is the only way to ensure a better Western Cape is what is degrading and insulting. This is old-style politics of baaskap which assumes that while this country is held together by the glue of women, they still don’t know what’s best for them.” Ferial writes

    Who’s more sane?

  4. Illuvatar Illuvatar 19 May 2009

    Hear hear!!

  5. Paddy II Paddy II 19 May 2009

    *applause* Mr Saks.

  6. Paul Hoffman Paul Hoffman 19 May 2009

    A prevailing policy of gender and racial quotas does not really exist,(except at national cabinet level) nor should it in a non-racist, non-sexist democracy in which dignity, equality and freedom are the order of the day. The Constitution allows for broad quotas only in the public administration, or civil service, and the judiciary. No such constraints apply in the selection of MECs as is evidenced in the 8 provinces governed by the ANC, where not a single pale male cracked the nod and only a total of two pale females made it into the provincial cabinets in which the ANC holds sway. How and why this should be so is explained on the website of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa ( in a piece entitled “The Constitution and Quotas” under the “latest news” and “accountability” headings.

  7. Lets Debate Lets Debate 19 May 2009

    Politics is not a game. Politics does not occur in a vacuum. Politics is serious, especially in a country where there is gross inequality, unspeakable and unthinkable poverty, residng alongside conspicuous consumption. It demands that political leaders focus on the problems at hand and not the ‘game’ devoid of reality. If you are advocating that a good opposition leader is one whose role is to be against the ruling party then you place none of the real problems of this country as priority. If that is your view, please stop writing in this blog and restrict yourself to some other trivial entertainment website or blog. Stop trying to re-create european and american style political engagement in a country that needs all to pull together rather than pull apart!

  8. Zoo Zoo 19 May 2009

    “As a white, Jewish male, I abhor the whole concept of quotas. They remind of bygone times when only a limited number of Jews were allowed to attend universities.”

    The most frightening asect of your article is that, in view of the quota-approach, is this a truly bygone time anymore?

  9. Madoda Madoda 19 May 2009


    This norm of calling ways to measure transformation or BBBEE quotas, is wrong and disingenious. In business and in life, what you cannot measure you cannot achieve or improve. If you want to tackle high crime or unemployement, you start by measuring the problem with real numbers such as the murder rate or the unemployment rate so that you can track you progress over time.

    In South Africa we are battling with a economic, and social realities of sexism and rascism as a result of 350 years of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Measuring the representivity of the population in leadership using numbers is one of the hard tangible evidence to track progress. Afterall “Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people” (Representivity).

    It is a huge generalisation to say the there where no skilled women to have been considered for a Cabinet role in the WC. Especially when Zille is appointing white male farmers to run health in the WC. Afterall Verwoed ensured the exclusion of women and black from position of leadership. Afterall, Hitler and Verwoed believed that blacks and women were inferior, should not be educated and were restricted to limited skills. Is this not a de ja vu moment with Zille’s arguments? We have seen this movie before.

    What you call quotas, are called SMART objectives or KPI measures. I challenge you to come with alternative measures to track progress to address results of sexism and rascism without numbers.

  10. George George 19 May 2009

    Thank you, now where are all those columnists who jumped on the ‘hate the fake racist little girl who is trying to force apartheid on us’ bandwagon?

    When will the media learn from their mistakes and stop their damaging and unfounded sensationalism?

    After Nelson Mandela, Helen Zille is the best thing that has happened to SA politics since 1994.

  11. Dithabana Dithabana 19 May 2009


    Is it possible that Helen is the only woman with leadership capabilities in the DA?
    The question above should sound like a rhetorical question, and you know why? Because it is Mr Saks.

    It is beyond imagination to find that not even one (except herself) of the many women in the Western Cape DA membership could pass her “fitness for purpose” test, as she passionately lay it out to public domain.

    I am not a member of the DA but I can faithfully put to you that I have had the pleasure of getting into some political discourse with ladies from the DA and I sincerely found them impressive in their political outlook. These ladies are smart and capable in their own right David and what does that say about their seniors in politics?

    Why are they not given an opportunity to make an impact in the WC? They failed Helen’s “test”. Women will punish her for this

  12. anton kleinschmidt anton kleinschmidt 19 May 2009

    Agree 100%.

    There is an important subtext which the ANC seems to be ignoring. They are being told in no uncertain terms that the DA will not play the game according to the ANCs distorted rules.

    The DA won the election in the Western Cape and they are perfectly within their rights to decide on how the province must be run. In doing so they must ignore the mindless clamour from the ANC opposition and their hangers-on.

    All the early signs suggest that the ANC will be as ineffectual in opposition as they have been in government.

  13. Gwen Gwen 19 May 2009

    Is this analysis or party propaganda?

    “I think everyone will agree that when Zille selected her cabinet, she did not deliberately set out to exclude women. What on earth could she have gained, and how much was there to lose, by practising gender discrimination?”

    I don’t think this is necessarily true. Zille has scored huge brownie points with the self-styled victims of reverse discrimination, coincidentally her core support group.

    “It can only be assumed that she chose those whom she genuinely felt were best suited to do the job.”

    Even if gender and race were the furthest things from her mind, this doesn’t necessarily follow. All sorts of other factors from internal power dynamics in the DA to political paybacks could have influenced her choices.

    Zille’s faux pas have been spectacularly upstaged by the ANCYL (and make no mistake, their deployment as such by the ANC is deliberate and calculated) but that in no way detracts from the fact that she’s lurched from one misstep to another in this whole palaver.

  14. Jan Hofmeyr Jan Hofmeyr 19 May 2009

    Thanks. Some common sense.

  15. Robin Grant Robin Grant 19 May 2009

    hear hear!!

  16. Bulalinja Bulalinja 19 May 2009

    You clearly miss the point David, either it’s stupidity or deliberate! I suspect you’re disingenuous! ANC and critics are not asking HZ to select incompetent people to fulfill quotas or political correctness! No, it’s the opposite: But it’s just inconceivable that DA lacks women who can lead or rising talent needing nurturing! HZ must prove this and not resort to mud-slinging on irrelevances. Certainly her narratives don’t wash! Then why do you advocate such an archaic practice. All leading democracies of this world encourage diversity in their cabinets! Read Ferial’s comment in today’s M&G! It hurts me to see how blacks become political fodder for such a counter-progressive party!

    What hurts most is that you, analysts and portents of doom ignore such. It’s an evil, symptomatic of the wider society in this country. How long has DA been in opposition and yet without policy of raising their own diverse and competent talent!? Will they ever do this? A few tokens have been sacrificed so far but soon the truth will prevail-what the core of DA really is!

    Rather than remembering what Vorster said to de Villiers Graaf, you must recall how far RSA has come in disentangling undemocratic evils of patriarchal Nats since the democratic defeat of apartheid! Remarkably you forget that, being an avowed Jew yourself, it’s the same principles guiding tolerance, diversity etc which make RSA the most Semitic-friendly country and which DA are undermining!

  17. Xolani Xolani 19 May 2009

    Am I to assume then, following Mr Bloom’s logic that a democratic state is only built by hurling insults at each other. I don’t know, wouldn’t that be a recipe for disaster.
    Personally both Hellen and the ANCYL have lost the plot, I was brought to think before I talk and also to consider whether what I’m about to say is going t achieve anything.
    I actually think she could be a very intellegent woman but all that is overshadowed by her unnecessary rantings.Policies is what the masses are interested in not a bitter old woman.

    Your argument on people being given jobs because they are capable is a valid one but leaves out one important consideration namely past imbalances and that people are creatures of habit and unless they are forced to think otherwise they will always revert back to old habits.

  18. GUS GUS 19 May 2009

    Mr Saks

    Full marks for about the only rational blog on the whole affair. It’s a pity that not more see the dangers inherent in the ruling party’s and their mostly mindless adherent’s attacks on this fine lady.

    With the SACP and COSATU now having a greater stake in the ruling alliance, totalitarian or even fascist tendencies are beginning to manifest themselves.

    Zille needs to be encouraged and supported for taking a courageous, correct and well-argued stance in the face of an “enemy” that has no idea what freedom, tolerance, thrift and accountability means. And she will succeed; I believe there are enough right-minded people in this country, albeit a minority, who will see to that. As far as the ANCYL, COSATU and MK are concerned; sorry guys, if Zille was 89 I’d say you’d have a chance but at this stage you’re not “man” or brainy enough.

    In my opinion, Trollip will fall on his own sword for the stance he has taken – now that is a megalomaniac; speaking Xhosa does not make you anything special in this land, even if you’re white.

  19. k morrow k morrow 19 May 2009

    You know chaps I must admit to when first seeing Helen’s cabinet list, not noticing the lack of females. I am a professional female who does not for one instant care whether Helen has the ” correct quota ” or not. All I care about is whether the best people get chosen irrespective of gender etc. I am amused and irritated by the sudden sanctimonious support by some of my “male brothers “for our rights. I find it patronising and hollow when I think of all the more important issues pertaining to women that they could but don’t protest about.

  20. Dawn Dawn 19 May 2009

    As a woman I’m not at all put out that the cabinet is pale male. I am surprised that there were no women that HZ thought suitable AND were prepared to hold office. Maybe some of us don’t need the ANCYL and MK insults! Many of the women in the ANC cabinets have proved to be useless (like many of the men!) – so let’s wait and see if these guys perform.

  21. Ant K Ant K 19 May 2009

    The old Nationalist Party had quotas for everything. They loved quotas. The ANC absorbed what was left of the Nat party and also inherited a love for quotas. Much of the racist diatribe coming from the mouths of the ANCYL spout the same senseless racism that the old Nats spouted. Then it was the “swart gevaar”. Now I guess its the “white woman” (A fluent Xhosa speaker who has dedicated most of her adult life to fighting poverty on the Cape Flats) who has instilled fear in their hearts

  22. geejay geejay 20 May 2009

    @Siphiwo to quote a politician is to spread a lie, now I don’t know who wrote that but I think you should stop quoting politicians. With the exception of a few positions I cannot look at any and I mean any of the ANC appointments without suspicion of why they have been appointed. I specifically raise the question and suspicion of those who come with the baggage of failed portfolio’s or simply no experience at all. Why doesn’t the ANC explain the merit of their cabinet appointments? Because it’s all cronyism all over again that’s why! They attack the make up of the western cape cabinet only to draw attention away from their own disastrous appointments.

  23. SarahH SarahH 20 May 2009

    Mr Saks, this subject is about more than party politics and even goes beyond quotas. Quotas are simply a means to an end. The end is a society where equality, social justice and human rights prevail – something which every right thinking person in this country supports. Women’s rights, are human rights. The Constitution (1996) sets the tone for every politician and person in this country, including all laws etc. How is it possible that you can condone a party political choice that is in contradiction to the spirit and the letter of the constitution?

    It is not an ANC narrative, as Ms Zille claims, it is THE South African narrative, unless of course she is suggesting that the ANC wrote the constitution. Lest we forget, that document was crafted by all (?) political parties and was subjected to public participation. The DA keep raising the danger of the ANC changing the constitution – does Ms Zille’s action not show that she herself does not respect that document as it stands, never mind changing it?

    Have we forgotten how and why the constitution came into being? Should you not rather be encouraging Ms Zille and the DA to respect the constitution which they claimed to protect during their electioneering?

  24. David David 20 May 2009

    It truly does not speak well of the DA that they couldn’t find ‘suitable’ women within their ranks to fill positions in the Western Cape. Very odd indeed. Especially since Zille’s recent letter in the Argus talks about women leaders (plural) in the DA. Well, where are they Helen?

    Of course the real test is still to come. If the Western Cape is a raging success, then some of her critics will fall momentarily silent, but this cloud I feel will continue to overhang. But there also exists a possible risk that the national govt may partake in some ‘dirty tricks’ that has the result of the Western Cape not being able to effectively deliver on its mandate and in so doing prove a point. How likely that is is impossible to determine at this point. Nonetheless, assuming that outcome, the govt will claim victory over the DA’s ‘incompetence’ and the DA will cry fowl and blame the govt. Ho hum. Politics hey….

    Oh, and I like how previous posts refer to the Western Cape as ‘WC’. If this lot carries on much longer, it may very well become a toilet!!

  25. Iain Iain 20 May 2009

    Why is the quota system needed ? Is it because we need to “redress past imbalances”, “level the paying fields” or somesuch cant meaningless phrase ? No, it is too little too late.

    It is insulting to the beneficiaries who are assumed to have benefited from the system rather than achieved by their own efforts. It does not benenefit business and insults the staff member to have staff put in post simply to meet quotas rather than by their ability to do the job.

    It excludes qualified and able candidates from the job market.

    In truth, the quota system is applied far too late in the process. That why California abolished it. It does not work, and distorts the economy.

    If true equality is to be achieved it must start with equal access to education, particularly the provision of properly constructed, equipped and staffed schools and Universities throughout SA. A primary school in every parish should be the call.

    If that particular nettle had been grasped 15 years ago rather than introducing the OBE system and destroying teacher training, the need for a quota system would be reduced.

    Fix education first, then everything else will follow.

  26. Dave Harris Dave Harris 20 May 2009

    Hey David, before you try to pathetically defend Zille’s country club cabinet, lets put things in perspective.

    As a “white, Jewish male” you obviously greatly benefited apartheid so don’t BS with this “only a limited number of Jews were allowed to attend universities”. You will have to prove such an outrageous lie. There were NEVER any quotas imposed on white males at any of the white universities.

  27. South Africa South Africa 20 May 2009

    You mean “primary school playground”, because thats the level of their smutty comments. Yes disagree, but give some minuscule level of intelligent argument. Helen Zille will be operating under a microscope that no government official has witnessed to date. The ANC and it’s supporters are going to create public havoc with every opportunity they get. Zille knows this and has picked her cabinet based on this constant scrutiny they will receive. Let her do her job. So far the Western Cape leads the pack in terms of financial management and service delivery. The rest are playing catchup, lets hope they can!
    Paul Young

  28. Peter  Andrew Peter Andrew 20 May 2009

    According to me it is a big abstraction to say the there where no skilled women to have been considered for a Cabinet role in the WC. Especially when Zille is appointing white male farmers to run health in the WC. After all Verwoed ensured the exclusion of women and black from position of leadership.
    After all, Hitler and Verwoed believed that blacks and women were inferior, should not be educated and were restricted to limited skills.

  29. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 20 May 2009

    Why is it OK for Rasool to have a cabinet with only one woman and not for Zille? Hypocracy~!

    And her senior women were all on the parliamentary list not the regional list, which only had three inexperienced women.

    The Cape Town Council is also well represented by DA women.

    Your comment on Sir De Villier Graaff is so true. He and my father were friends – at school together, at Varsity together, and went to war together. My father always said he was too much a gentleman to be an effective opposition leader, and never hit hard when the Nats made a really bad mistake “for the sake of the country”. I am very glad that Helen Zille is NOT making that mistake.

    I also think that all this talk of “gender eqity” and “quotas” and “racism” hides the real issues of sexism. The Universities Investigation team on racism in Higher Learning have reported back -they fpund a large amount of sexism on campus, and high incidents of rape, but they were not mandated to investigate that. Why not? Because there have been rape charges against Zuma? So the topic is now taboo?

  30. Ngodoi Ngodoi 20 May 2009

    Interesting that the most vociferous opponnents of Zille and her cabinet, ranging from the ANCYL’s infantile, sexual, misogynistic and outright racist rhetoric to the peurile and oft cliche’d drivel spewed out on this comments page all come from blacks…..but it’s whites who are racist in SA???
    Talk about hypocracy and double standards.

  31. mundundu mundundu 20 May 2009

    a lot of the “she must right historical wrongs” are trying to have it both ways.

    ok, 350 years of colonialism, slavery and apartheid have left black people [collectively] way behind. 15 years of “democracy” is working to reverse it, but hasn’t quite done so yet.

    the anc has created the argument — and most people have bought it — that educated black people should be grateful to the anc for the opportunities provided to them. the anc further goes on to intimate, in word and deed, that black people that don’t support the anc could find themselves on the outside looking in.

    fair enough.

    so what does this mean for black people who support the da? if 25% of voters in gauteng are voting da, then clearly they have some black support there. it’s also the place where not being on the anc gravy train is least likely to be a detriment.

    everywhere else? not so much. the anc consistently says that the da is filled with counter-revolutionairies. [NB: if “a luta continua” 15 years after you’ve won, then maybe you’re doing it wrong.]

    given that there have been families that have nearly come to blows over members joining COPE one can only guess the pressure against being openly DA.

    but yet zille is expected to have a cabinet that looks like the national population.

    it’s an impossibility, really. but i don’t think people who did maths in anc areas understand that.

  32. Al Al 20 May 2009

    Let’s analyse the govts of the other eight provinces!

  33. Edwin Matlapeng Edwin Matlapeng 20 May 2009

    So then, David, the simplicstic prism through which you see our politics reveals your naivety and ignorance in its blisfull exuberance which is typical of people desperate to sweep under the carpet difficult issues they battle to relate to. For them, the honest cost of rolling up their sleeves and getting to solve South African issues is too much to bear for fear of being subjected to realities inconvenient to their cause which most of the time is superficial plunder and whimsical indulgence.

    They typical go on a delusional diatribe to blame everything on anyone but themselves and continually threaten to leave the country and never do!
    They constantly moan about crime and suggest the buildings of walls around their communities to keep criminals, read Black, out!

    They also simplify complex issues of race and gender to suit their narrow arguments. I am impressed how people like you, David, have managed to dig up the hidden zombie like racist back into forums like these, though sometimes they come out with names like R2 etc.

    If you debate in the ineterst of SA, which would encompass its people, the majority of which are Black people, why would you argue against the beneficiation of these people if it is not racist? How could you defend yourself against the interest of the majority in their own country when even you own interest are tied to these people. Empty tins with access to internet, maybe?

  34. Bongo Bongo 20 May 2009

    David, your whole article is farcical! You are simply an apologist for Zille and obviously try to defend the indefensible until the bitter end.

    I agree the opposition should not be liked, but you are referring here to SA? If I should remind you, our democracy is in its infancy and Zille’s racist attacks against the President will not forever be tolerated. A lot of coloured people who voted for Zille have now seen the errors of their misguided ways! Indeed, they will not make the same mistake come 2011!

  35. HD HD 20 May 2009

    The post raises some interesting deeper questions apart from the politcal mud sliging we have seen on the issue.

    (1)Is it not just an issue of two competing ideologies on gender equality? Is that a viable political defence generally and more specifically in SA context?

    (2)Traps in his new post seems to suggest no (to the above question) because it doesn’t conform to the “national” narrative/symbolism. Which begs the question, who has the right to determine that and how is it legitimately constructed/enforced?

    Does the ruling party determine it? Is the DA’s liberal ideology, which we assume informs their gender policy, incompatible with the constitution or against the spirit of the national narrative? (I agree it would have been politically smart to appoint more women but they argue it goes against their narrative and is just widow dressing)

    (3)Should the DA in the WC be “judged” /beholden to national ANC policies or their own? Why? Based on political, legal or constitutional imperatives?

    (4)Does a multi party constitutional democracy have fixed national narratives or does in allow for plurality, i.e. competing narratives or ideas about how society should be organised ?

    (5)Is the constitution not the final arbiter? How much of it is open to interpretation by parties? Is the constitution clear about gender quotas as interpreted by the ANC or would a different policy, for arguments sake advanced by the ANC, also be deemed the national narrative.

  36. Siobhan Siobhan 20 May 2009

    Superbly reasoned and beautifully written! Thank you, David.

    I wish you had joined the DA…

  37. Jean Jean 20 May 2009

    What I want to know is why the ANC, after almost 100 years of existence, has never had a woman leader?!

    The DA – as a party which evolved from the Progressive party – is barely a quarter of the ANC’s age, and it has already elected a FEMALE to lead. Not only that, but it has elected her on MERIT!! That is true gender equality, not the shallow ‘quick-fix’ quota equality of the ANC…!

  38. Felas Felas 20 May 2009

    Qoutas will never go away until we have an equal society or equality. What we are trying to do here is building the nation. When you consider this challenge, expressions such as “fitness of purpose” just become an excuse at best and at worst fly in the face of the noble values enshrined in our Constitution. We have a history of racial and gender inequality that we need to correct if we want to build the nation. Obviously, it will always be difficult for groups that benefitted from the previously qou to comprehend the need for change, HZ included. HZ missed out on chance to give women in the DA. The DAs performance in the WC is so much more important than one they will do in the national parliament.This is probably the reason that HZ thought that his team must be “man enough” to tackle the task.

  39. Dumisani Dumisani 20 May 2009


    I am totally dissappointed with your article not that I expected anything different from you but this is the worst even on your very low standards. For any person to suggest that opposition politics is equal to not being liked ny the ruling party si ridiculous. I suggest that you can be effective opposition by coming with concrete and costructive alternatives to the ruling party without being hated by them. This has been lacking in the DA and that is partly the reason they have not grown.
    Secondly you talk about what the youth league said to Helen. As much as I thought their response was over the top but I do not hear you condemning Helen for not dealing with the issue she was asked to respond but instead doing what the DA does best “gutter politics” and putting the president of the country in the middle of it.
    Your article is very one sided and lacks intellectual analysis of the issues.

  40. Al Al 20 May 2009

    But Dumisani, what about the ANC’s saying they would destabilise the Western Cape? You know, all that non-democratic stuff they were telling her before she even nominated her Cabinet? People were already advising her to get a court order against them.

  41. Paul Hoffman Paul Hoffman 20 May 2009

    There are eight other provincial cabinets with not a single pale male in any of them. Should anyone care? Does anyone care? I suspect not, to both questions; which is perhaps how it is in the real world, with the outcry over the Western Cape cabinet being contrived in pursuit of some or other ulterior motive.

  42. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 21 May 2009


    I have had enough of this 350 years of opprssion business – by whom, Shaka?

    When van Riebeeck arrived in 1652 there were no blacks at the Cape, only Khoikhoi and San. Black and white only met in the 1770s in the Eastern Cape – and had a few decades of border warfare clashes. The only other white presence, before the 1830s , was a small group of traders and missionaries at Port Natal (now Durban).

    White and black only started to clash and fight after The Great Trek, in the 1830s which was NOT 350 years ago!

  43. Frank Nnete Frank Nnete 21 May 2009


    Further, re your soap-box stance on quotas. How do you conceptually reconcile UNGA res. 181 with; “As a white, Jewish male, I abhor the whole concept of quotas.”


  44. Graham Graham 21 May 2009

    The ANC are simply worried because they know the Western Cape is going to be a model of good governance under any DA cabinet, and its going to show them up for the incompetant, quota-obsessed, ‘travelgate’ and ‘arms deal’ fraudsters that they are.

  45. SarahH SarahH 21 May 2009

    @Lyndal, you’ve had enough of the 35o years of oppression. Ok. Would you then, iin your own words describe how we arrived at this extremely unequal society? Lets see if you can provide us with some insight beyond the squabbling about who was here first and where they came from. We are all here now. Who was advantaged and who was disadvantaged and discriminated against?

    So lets not remain historical. How do you propose these compounded advantages and disadvantages be dealt with in the present. Stop attacking – anyone can do that. Show us how you would build towards that society we all seem to agree on: a more equal and just one for ALL South Africans.

  46. japes japes 21 May 2009

    The naked racism, the lies and innuendo as well as the open and dangerous hatred expressed in these comments depresses and disturbs me. SA society seems to be becoming more split along racial lines with less and less tolerance. More and more lies, threats and rhetoric.

    No one seems to care that surely politicians should be measured by their ability to deliver, not their sex and race.

  47. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 22 May 2009


    You do your thing – mine is to get the facts right first!

    Mbeki has built a whole racist society based on total myths.

  48. Frank Nnete Frank Nnete 22 May 2009

    Further to my comment above; re restorative justice pov…

  49. ctguy ctguy 22 May 2009

    Fortunately, after all the debate and banter and wiffle waffle, the DA led province and city will continue to deliver more, to more people, effectively and with greater transparency.

    Its this basic fact, which is at the core of the ANC’s obsession with Zille and it hurts. How dare she deliver more to the poor than the ANC. I have no doubt the province will be in a better state in 5 years. Undoing and repairing the damage left behind by the ANC will in itself be a major achievement.

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