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Zille, Zillier, Zilliest

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has been very successful at cultivating the image of a no-nonsense, straight-shooting politician who sticks to her principles — no matter what. Her party has over the years also (rightly) lambasted the ANC for covering up the arms-deal corruption and for making statements aimed at undermining the independence and impartiality of the courts.

But in the wake of the appointment of Judge Nathan Erasmus to head a commission of inquiry into allegations of illegal spying and other shenanigans around the floor-crossing period, Zille seems to have thrown all these principles out of the window and, in the process, has probably irrevocably tarnished her image as Mrs Clean.

First, she has instructed her lawyers to take legal action to try to stop the Erasmus commission from doing its work, claiming that the commission was set up with a political motive merely to tarnish the image of the DA and the coalition government it leads in Cape Town. This kind of argument sounds awfully familiar. Is that not the kind of thing that ANC politicians say when they try to rubbish investigations of corruption against its own members? And when ANC politicians make such claims, is it not the kind of thing the DA leader shouts and screams about?

One would have thought that if the DA — and Zille in particular — had nothing to hide, it would welcome the chance to clear its name through such a commission of inquiry. By trying to stop a judge from finding out whether some DA politicians had broken the law, Zille seems to suggest that the DA has something to hide and that the party will do everything in its power to make sure that the truth does not come out.

This makes Zille and the DA appear shifty and dishonest — exactly the opposite of the image the DA leader is trying to project. It also makes Zille look like a rank hypocrite for always finding fault with the secretive ways of the ANC as far as corruption and maladministration is concerned, yet then to try to stop an inquiry into corruption when it deals with her own party. She has every right to challenge the legality of the commission, but politically, this is a very stupid move on her part. After all, people in glass houses should not throw the first stone.

Second, I was rather shocked and surprised to read that Zille had told a radio station that “some judges allow themselves to be abused and I am afraid Nathan Erasmus is one of them”.

In the past the DA had correctly criticised supporters of Jacob Zuma who had impugned the integrity of Judge Hillary Squires after he convicted Schabir Shaik, and had also criticised the new ANC NEC for its scurrilous personal attack on Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke earlier this year. Such attacks, the DA had pointed out, undermine the independence of the judiciary and create distrust and disrespect for the judiciary that ultimately will undermine our democracy.

Yet, Zille attacked Erasmus in very personal terms and accused him of being abused and used by the ANC, and did this in a transparent effort to undermine the credibility of the judge and of the commission that he chairs. This is no different from the ANC Youth League and Young Communist League diatribes and shows a scandalous disregard for our Constitution. If Zille was really a woman of principle, she would, at the very least, have apologised for the comment — yet when given the chance she declined to comment further on the matter.

If she really thinks that Erasmus is being used or that he will be biased against the DA, she can always ask for him to recuse himself or bring an application to court to that effect. But to attack him personally is irresponsible and, once again, hypocritical.

It is also politically stupid because it would suggest to any reasonable bystanders — let alone the average voter — that the DA is trying to hide very serious corruption or maladministration from us and is prepared to say and do anything to stop the damaging information from coming out. What does Helen Zille have to hide, I wonder, that she is going to these lengths and is prepared to tarnish her image in this way in an attempt to stop the commission from doing its work?

These are questions that will not go away. Like allegations about corruptions in the arms deal, which is still haunting the ANC, these latest allegations will continue to haunt the DA and its leader until the party comes clean or until a credible body exonerates it from wrongdoing.

I thought if one person understood this, it would be Helen Zille. But obviously even the most astute and media-savvy of politicians lose all sense of decorum once running a city like Cape Town. Sometimes I wonder whether we have something in the water here in Slaapstad that makes politicians behave in such monumentally stupid ways.


  • Professor Pierre de Vos teaches constitutional law at the University of Western Cape. His writing has been published widely in both scholarly journals and in the popular press on a wide range of topics, including gay rights, the right to equality, social and economic rights, and affirmative action. Since October 2006 he also publishes a blog, Constitutionally Speaking.


  1. Owen Owen 17 April 2008

    Shrill Zille’s argument is that it is a waste of money considering the cost of the commision versus the cost of the alleged transgression. However, I agree she has lost this one.

  2. Marian Marian 17 April 2008

    Did it ever occur to you that the Erasmus Commission could be the start of the ANC’s election campaign to hang onto the Western Cape? The terms are so broad and so ludicrous that it beggars belief. The ANC wants to use the commission to give legal protection to people who wouldn’t know the truth if they stood in it. They wouldn’t have the courage to make their ‘statements’ outside legal protection because they’d be sued. With the aid of the commssion’s platform and the best laywers the state can buy these witnesses will have the freedom to spout inventions to suit the ANC’s campaign. Kent Morkel, the ANC’s chief weapon in their fight-back campaign to regain control of Cape Town and hang on to the Western Cape, is a stranger to the truth. He’s a prime example of all that is loathed in politicans – saying whatever is expedient to his particular audience at any time. Only the fellow-politically expedient value his charms.
    Wake up guys. Take off your rosy-coloured specs and see the commission for what it is.
    Agreed, Zille shot herself in the foot with her remark about the judge. But, compare that faux pas with the daily diet of outrageous, anti-democratic, anti-rule-of-law stuff that comes from the ANC camp, and you will have no doubt as to which camp is best able to protect the democracy we hoped we’d won in 1994.

  3. MySon MySon 17 April 2008


  4. Bonginkosi Bonginkosi 17 April 2008

    True. And isn’t it ironic considering the things that have been said about Jacob Zuma wanting his day in court and then doing everything in his power to prevent having his day in court? Smells like DA tactics to me?

  5. Len van der Merwe Len van der Merwe 17 April 2008

    Are you serious?
    So, without the DA being investigated, you have assumed they are much better than the ANC camp.
    If that is the case, surely you would welcome an investigation into the DA to be proven correct.
    I can imagine your argument if someone were to make a similar defense of the ANC.
    I am sorry, I think you are a hypocrite.
    You have so much to say about one of your former members, which does suggest that his antics were OK as long as they benefitted the DA.
    Odd how the DA always welcome tarnished personalities into their fold, only to claim they are liars when those and others leave the party.
    The DA is made up of hypocrites and I fear that Marian is not that much different.
    If you want the truth, let the judge do his job and then you can have a field day with the findings

  6. enrico enrico 17 April 2008

    It just shows you the double standards of the Godzille. Power corrupts!Her actions speak volumes and she is the person pointing finger at the ANC. She is critising Judge Erasmus because he is black and that is the bottom line. No respect for people of colour. They did the same with Judge President Hlope. They will never go as far to criticise any of the white bretheren on the bench. The Western Cape is the only province that is not liberated from these racist neo liberals. The Erasmus Commision must be allowed to continue with its work!

  7. ALX ALX 17 April 2008

    @enrico. i agree, “power corrupts”. so then: party with most power in this country equals party with most corrupt politicians? i live that to you to figure out.

    your comment: “The Western Cape is the only province that is not liberated from these racist neo liberals.” sound like a person who can’t accept that a democratic electoral process said no to the ANC. that puts you damn close to that aging joke of freedom fighter on our northern border.

  8. Marian Marian 17 April 2008

    Hi Len. Have you read the commission’s terms? George Orwell couldn’t have done better. The original ‘investigation’ was meant to be about who paid the bill for a ‘spying probe’ which, the city investigated and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on behalf of the city or DA. The commission is an expensive fishing/mud slinging expedition for which taxpayers will pay. It’s a waste of time and resources over what, essentially, is a relatively minor issue. The ANC’s intent with this commission is dishonest. They couldn’t give a stuff about the truth – they want a legally immunised arena in which to broadcast politically motivated nonsense – and they will drag out until election time.
    I have no problem with commissions if there are serious issues that need to be investigated. But this is nonsense.

    As for Enrico saying that Zille criticised Erasmus because he’s black….How little you know the woman. Also, thanks for telling me he’s black – I assumed he was white – not that it matters much.

  9. BenzoL BenzoL 17 April 2008

    It seems that the legal profession begins to look like the one in a country North of us: not to be trusted. With advocates driving into private property, filmed, contesting the contents of the film and denying any wrongdoing. With the scorpions under threat. With dockets stolen from the PA office. Dockets disappearing on request and a couple of bucks in the right hands. Judges moonlighting for the company they have to judge. In the Cape: our friend Rasool has tried every trick in the book to break the coalition. Who would trust this commission? Maybe Zille did handle it a little rough but it seems effective. Prevention is better than cure.

  10. Percy Percy 17 April 2008

    Good analysis. it is not strange that all politicians preach something and act differently. the fact of the matter is, Zille has a lot to hide by preventing the commision and to a large extent, critising the judge. the commission must be allowed to uncover all the hidden truths and see what is she protecting.

  11. Moss Moss 17 April 2008

    A point nobody seems to have picked up is that the (ANC) provincial government has done this before with the Desai commission, which was clearly set up solely to embarrass the DA (with some reason – they were on shaky ground with Harksen). The question is why the same medium was not used by the provincial government to get to the bottom of scandals when the ANC was in control of Cape Town? And there were plenty that were exposed by the media but were allowed to die a natural death through neglect during that period of gross misgovernance. The answer must be patently obvious even to those who have their knives out for Zille.

  12. John Bond John Bond 17 April 2008

    Yes, of course you’re right about Zille, and most other politicians in SA Pierre…

    But 10 minutes on Google shows Erasmus deeply involver with the ANC structures and particularly those in the Western Cape. We’ve come to expect dishonesty from our politicians but clearly our Judges stink too!

    Maybe it’s time to do your homework Pierre, Corrupt judges are more dangerous, even than politicians!

  13. King Vino King Vino 17 April 2008

    Forgive my ignorance, but i did not know that Judge Erasmus was black and now the racial kid will show its ugly head again!

    Zille’s behaviour shows how dishonest a game politics is and if you want to use logic in dealing with it…guess what? you on your own.

  14. Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen 17 April 2008

    Would it be too corny to say that this is your zilliest blog post? Thanks for a really interesting analysis.

  15. David David 17 April 2008

    So its true, Erasmus is one of the handpicked followers of Hlophe et al. Well said Helen, tell it like it is.

    Mr De Vos – Is that an ivory tower you’re sitting in over there.

  16. Eagle Eagle 17 April 2008

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Zille fan. The women is Black Sash and anti-white from way back. And, in my mind she has been just as ineffective as her predecessor, Tony Leon.

    However I am very PRO keeping the Cape out of ANC hands at any cost, so you go, Helen. Please make sure that the government pays your legal costs in the same way as they paid Zuma’s and McBride’s millions. Get Kempkempkempkemp…… Chase it up with any inconsequential loophole that your legal council can dream up. You get your money’s worth.

  17. Michael Diaz Michael Diaz 17 April 2008

    I’m completely with Zille on this one. Any spying was done for the good of the city, Zille and her colleagues were receiving incessant death threats from that dubious Chabaan character. This whole thing is a storm in a teacup. The ailing ANC Western Cape is constanly attempting to politicise issues. A commission has already been set up and the city was absolutely cleared. Also I don’t think that Zille is the kind of person that would make personal remarks against someone (Erasmus) for the sake of it. I’d imagine she has sufficient reason to back her claims.

    Rather less time and media attention should be focusses on this technality and more should be spent on monitoring the multitude of criminality that the ANC is involved. I take umbrage at anyone trying to paint the DA with the ANC brush. Because that is garbage and you know it. Oh and how dare anyone start mooting the ID, let’s not forget it’s they that were happy to go into a coalition with the ANC in the 2006 local CT elections. Alas when the DA triumphed, they came crawling. Oh and let’s not forget leadership, De Lille pales in comparison with Zille. Did you know that De Lille has one of the worst parliamentary attendance records about. I also notice that it is Zille, not ANC or ID leaders that is leading the drug marches in CT, Jo’burg and beyond.

  18. Jon Jon 17 April 2008

    Erasmus is a well-known agent of the ANC regime and he is clearly not an impartial referee. Zille “irrevocably tarnished” for pointing out this obvious truth? Utter rubbish. If anything, it highlights her alertness and discernment. If anyone is tarnished it is De Vos for making so ludicrous a claim.

  19. Daniel Daniel 18 April 2008

    Zille is a typical politician, a mud slinger. We have a crisis of governance in South Africa. If the politicians, whoever they are (the two Zs for instance), could stop covering up corruption and other irregularities but rather get on with their jobs South Africa might actually become governable.

    So far, I don’t think the DA has done much better than the ANC in the Western Cape.

  20. Jon Jon 18 April 2008

    Zille is an outstanding politician and she clearly has the ruling regime running very scared. So scared that they have to hire a legal party loyalist lickspittle to cast some aspersions at the taxpayers’ considerable expense. And then, to top it all, they expect her just to swallow this stitch-up without protest. Well, she didn’t give them their wish. Well done, Helen Zille!

  21. Peter Peter 18 April 2008


    Please try your best not to take it out of context. At issue is a bill for around R4000-00 that is under question. The ANC are prepared to spend R10 million on investigating that? To put it in context, while the ANC was in power in WC they were exposed for corruption totaling millions, yet no commission. The is a politcal vendetta and Rasool has expanded it uncontitutionally to a much broader scope. Rasool himself has been accused of some very illegal actions yet no investigation. Furthermore, Rasool is now investigating Chabaan, which just proves the DA were correct. Furthermore, you accept that the ANC can use any dirty tactic in the book but expect the DA to be angels. That is like expecting our rugby team to win when the ref only penalises them and allows their opponents to do anything they want.

    You will ALWAYS find dirty within ANY organisation, politica, governmental, or private. It is the degree of dirty that is important. As far as I can see it is no contest. DA = Morals and Standards. ANC = corruption and theft. Both leave a lot to be desired when it comes to competence but that is applicable to any political organisation in the world due to the very nature of politics.

    Go Helen, fight fire with fire, and nail the ANC bastards

  22. Pierre de Vos Pierre de Vos Post author | 18 April 2008

    Many of the responses to this post endorses Helen Zille’s argument that the judge appointed to head it is an ANC lackey and can therefore not be trusted. The ANC Youth League made exactly the same argument when it said Judge Hillary Squires could not be trusted because he was a judge in Rhodesia. Personal attacks on judges – as opposed to legal applications to have judges recused or robust criticism of their decisions and actions – are dangerous because it undermine respect for the judiciary on which our democracy depends. Down that road lies anarchy. It was wrong and dangerous when the ANC Youth League did it and it remains wrong now when the DA and its supporters do it. To hold otherwise is to be deeply unprincipled and expedient.

    A second argument put forward is that the ANC also does bad things or does worse things, but that seems beside the point to me. The DA leader has constructed an image of being completely honest and trustworthy and so we should surely keep her to this promise? Bad and illegal things done by a political opponent cannot justify corruption by one’s own party – especially not if one’s own party holds itself out as a moral beacon. This is also unprincipled and is sadly based on an emotional support for the DA (and perhaps an irrational hatred of the ANC?) and not on a level headed evaluation of the issues and facts.

  23. Len van der Merwe Len van der Merwe 18 April 2008

    “Have you read the commission’s terms? George Orwell couldn’t have done better. The original ‘investigation’ was meant to be about who paid the bill for a ’spying probe’ which, the city investigated and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on behalf of the city or DA. The commission is an expensive fishing/mud slinging expedition for which taxpayers will pay. It’s a waste of time and resources over what, essentially, is a relatively minor issue. The ANC’s intent with this commission is dishonest. They couldn’t give a stuff about the truth – they want a legally immunised arena in which to broadcast politically motivated nonsense – and they will drag out until election time.
    I have no problem with commissions if there are serious issues that need to be investigated. But this is nonsense. ”

    So, if I understande your logic, it would be OK for the ANC to stop any investigations they consider to be a fishing expedition? Also, if the ANC commissioned investigations into thewir activity through a limited scope by ne of their supporters, then this would be accepted as a complete, thorough and independent investigation?
    And lastly, you do not think Judge Nathan Erasmus’ findings will differ with the investigation commissioned by Zille, since you are so ready to proclaim that investigation decisive?
    Why do we have appeal courts when we assume that one investigation with one set of rules cannot be overruled or found limited or be discredited?
    I think you mistaking your support for the DA for objectivity.
    Spending millions to investigate lost thousands is not the point.
    Court cases often cost a lot much more than the value of the crimes being investigated, but we do not stop investigating hijackers, robbers, pick pockets and assaulters. We deal with those crimes as if they were worth billions of rands.
    Take the Shabir shaik court case. The money involved is far less than the actual cost of the case, and so the cost argument is still invalid

  24. Dithabana Dithabana 18 April 2008

    wena Mr De Vos

    It is clear to me that godZille has something to hide and I would advise you not to waste your time trying to bring further deliberation to it because you have done your bit enough.

    Let the commission continue

  25. Kurt Hendricks Kurt Hendricks 18 April 2008

    Firstly, clearly the bill was not around R4000. One of the questions is why the city of cape town did not put this out to tender. That means that the final bill exceeded R200 000. My understanding from what I read was that there was a few bills, each of which was under R200 000, thereby trying to circumvent the tender process.

    In one of the interviews I heard on radio, Zille talks about the fact that the vendor was on the city’s ‘approved list’ of service providers, and therefore could be appointed. As someone who has tendered for work with the City, I can tell you that this is hogwash. The city has a process with Tradewolrd for services under R200 000. A specification should have been prepared and sent to all vendors on trade world as per city’s process. This would ensure transparency and fair procurement processes. If it was for more than this, a tender should have been issued.

    I get a clear sense that she is trying to hide something. She is using ratepayers money to fight a party political battle, which is exactly what she is accusing the ANC off. If she has nothing to hide, let the judge do his job.

  26. amused reader amused reader 19 April 2008

    The double standards are not from Helen Zille (although i agree she maybe could have handled it better), they are from the ANC.

    The investigation as i recall is as to whether a R3000 bill was paid by the city as opposed to the DA. The city of Cape Town, and lets not forget, its ‘coalition’ partners, have already carried out an enquiry, and the DA was found innocent. Do you not think the ID would be screaming guilty at the top of its’ voice if the DA was?

    The ANC, for political reasons and none other, wants to spend millions investigating a R3000 bill, when they already know it is at best highly unlikely that the money was misused. Compare this with their unwillingness to release the results of the khampepe enquiry, the treatment of amongst others of Tony Yengeni, their refusal to look into the claims around Manto, Selebi and how many other that i can’t recall and you can see the absolute hypocracy is not Zille’s.

  27. Jon Jon 20 April 2008

    Judges who proudly wave their political allegiances from a big flagpole have no right to be accepted as disinterested arbiters in the outcome of a dispute in which their political party is involved.

    And Erasmus’s investigation is not being afforded the status of an official judicial review. It just so happens that he is a judge, and his respected rank as a judge adds some undeserved gloss to proceedings. The outcome of his investigation carries no legal weight and is not subject to legal appeal. It’s a the investigatory equivalent of a “show trial”.

    De Vos knows this, but goes ad hominem on Zille instead. Shame on him.

  28. Eagle Eagle 20 April 2008

    @ Jon

    I would not set too much stock by what de Vos says. He is as pro-ANC as they come.

    His methods are; He posts something that sounds anti-ANC to flush out those that are anti-ANC. He then uses these posts to defend the ANC.

    One can always tell the affiliation of these types by looking at whom they work for. Anyone that goes against the government or the black race gets fired immediately e.g. Dave Bullard.

  29. Peter Peter 20 April 2008

    Kurt, you have it wrong. The total bill was in excess of R200k but Rasool is basing his witch hunt on one bill for around R4000-00.

    Look at the actions in totality, not just this particular incident, and then perhaps you will see the light. He has used state organs for personal vendettas and to advance the ANC agenda for years. Then look into the performance of Chabaans party (see todays Sunday Times as an example) and you will not, perhaps, be so quick to defend. We would all like honest political parties but it will never happen, in any country, because of peoples needs for power and/or money. So, let us take a look at who is the “least worst” and that is the party to vote for.

    Your analogy on the value of the crime being immaterial to the cost is absolute hogwash. Would you throw R10 million at pursuing me for a parking ticket? The cost of prosecution is directly related to the effect the crime will havew on society as a whole. What does Rasool achieve by trying to prove that less than 2% of a bill was illegally paid, which is less than an accepted administrative error in any company, with little or no impact on society, while he overlooks far greater corruption and negligence in his own party, if not only to try to discredit the DA. That he is so desparate to pin this minor issue on the DA proves how clean the party as a whole really is, especially compared to the ANC (Chancellor House – worth billions but no investigation, hell even Bush would not get away with this) and Chabaans own party.

    People in glass houses….Kurt

  30. Kurt Hendricks Kurt Hendricks 20 April 2008

    Peter, the point that I am making is that if the bill was over R200 000 (as you have admitted), then she did violate the City of Cape Town’s procurement processes.

    She essentially bypassed the process to appoint a cronie – something that she is always accusing the ANC off. Your arguement appears to say that she is guilty, but should be forgiven because the crime is smaller than what the ANC has done. My view is that her power is less than what the ANC has, and she clearly has shown that, with the little power that she has, she is just as capable of abusing that power. I.e. she is no different. In fact, she is worse, as she is preaching one thing, and practising another.

    The issue of Chabaan’s party, etc. is a red herring. Fundamentaly people like you are arguing that the ends justify the means i.e. yes, Zille broke the law, but it is OK, as it was for a good reason. However, if this was the ANC that did this (spied on and taped other parties) you would be howling over how illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional it is. Why these double standards? Why not argue a case on the merits? Why not stand for principles?

    Your point about glass houses should therefore apply to Zille.

  31. Marian Marian 21 April 2008

    18 April 2008

    A Message from Helen Zille

    Recently, in a radio interview, I made the following statement regarding the Erasmus Commission of Inquiry:

    “Some judges allow themselves to be abused, and unfortunately Nathan Erasmus is one of them.”

    Die Burger criticized this statement as a challenge to the independence and integrity of the judiciary. On the basis of the advice of Senior Counsel, I am advised that Die Burger’s interpretation is incorrect. Below is my response to Die Burger, published this morning (Afrikaans version follows below).

    Best wishes,

    Helen Zille

    Leader of the Democratic Alliance

    To the Editor:

    It is ironic that Die Burger’s editorial claiming to defend the independence of the judiciary does precisely the opposite.

    The editorial is misguided and wrong. Its faulty premise is that Nathan Erasmus is chairing the Erasmus Commission in his capacity as a Judge and is therefore above criticism. He is NOT acting as a judge. He is merely the chairman of a commission. The commission is not above criticism and nor is its chairman. Furthermore, in accepting the appointment to chair the Commission, Erasmus ignored guidelines laid down by the Constitutional Court, which recommended that Judges turn down appointments outside of a court when such positions “create the risk of judicial entanglement in matters of political controversy.”

    Nathan Erasmus has gone against this injunction and cannot be protected from the consequences. The commission he agreed to chair is, we contend, unlawful and unconstitutional. It was established by the ANC as a political hit squad to conduct a drawn-out witch-hunt to smear the opposition in the run-up to the 2009 election. The ANC’s purpose in appointing a judge as chair is to provide a veneer of judicial respectability and protection normally accorded by the public to a court of law. This strategy has worked well because many others, besides Die Burger, are treating the commission and its chairman with the deference applicable to a court of law. There is no legal or constitutional reason to do so. And there is no threat to the independence of the judiciary to say so.

    There is, however, no doubt that the independence of the Judiciary is being harmed by Nathan Erasmus’s decision to accept appointment to such a political instrument. It is this decision — and not my criticism of it — that harms the independence of the judiciary.

    Die Burger is also entirely wrong to suggest that I have a remedy in due legal process. Again Die Burger is confusing the commission with a court. There is no remedy in law from the outcome of a commission. The Commission delivers a report which is nothing more than the opinion of its members. A commission’s report does not have the status of a judgement or the weight of a court behind it. There is no right of appeal against its “opinion” and the “legal processes” that Die Burger states are available to me and the City do not exist. Die Burger made this claim because it was confusing the Commission with a judicial process. This confusion, which is widespread, is the very reason judges should not readily accept invitations by politicians to chair commissions of this type.

    If there was any hint of wrongdoing by me or the City, we would have been charged in criminal proceedings instituted by the prosecuting authority if that authority was satisfied that there was a prima facie case that we should answer. The Premier has not used the ordinary judicial process because, despite months of investigation, there is no basis for any charge. So a smear campaign must do instead. That is what the Erasmus Commission is all about.

    I will continue to say so because it is the truth and because we have a constitution that protects free speech. This is really the way to defend a “Regstaat”, not by cloaking a witch-hunt in the veneer of judicial respectability.

  32. Van Wyk Van Wyk 21 April 2008

    Pierre, you have a point. But surely, so does Zille?

    The premier of the Western Cape has no business setting up a commssion to investigate something that occured at a local government level. And why have no criminal charges been brought? Also, in Zille’s favour, it should be taken into account that she herself appointed a commission. Do you call in doubt the integrity of the senior advocate who chaired it? Does the premier? In short, the whole things stinks to high heaven of political abuse of the judiciary.

    Nevertheless, it might have been wiser of Zille to raise these points – for the record as it were – but then simply go ahead and cooperate with the commission, leaving the provincial ANC government with egg on its fase at the end of it.

    And just in case you wonder: I am no supporter of the DA. In fact I find the idea of being a supporter of any political party a bit laughable.

    Van Wyk

  33. Helen Zille Helen Zille 22 April 2008

    Pierre de Vos makes some very serious allegations against me in this blog. For one thing, by implying that I have something to hide, he presumes that either I, the Democratic Alliance or the City of Cape Town is guilty of wrong doing.

    The fact is that we have been entirely open with all the legal investigations, and have handed over all the relevant information, to the last invoice. There is nothing to hide and we have hidden nothing.

    Advocate Josie Jordaan SC’s exhaustive inquiry in to the so-called “Spygate” saga concluded definitively that there had been no wrongdoing. Despite an exhaustive police investigation over many months, no charges have been laid and no evidence has emerged that the Spygate allegations have any substance. Indeed, the investigations so far have found no evidence that the City or the DA engaged in illegal spying. The allegation that the City paid a DA account has also been found to be groundless.

    So why would I want to block the Erasmus Commission? Why wouldn’t I, as de Vos argues, welcome the opportunity to clear my name?

    Firstly because my name is clear. It does not need to be cleared. The unusually enthusiastic police investigation has not found anything that I, the DA or the City did wrong. There was no illegal spying and the City did not pay a bill that was meant for the DA. Secondly, the Erasmus Commission is certainly not the route for anyone to clear their name. On the contrary, it was set up by the ANC to do precisely the opposite — to smear me, the DA and the City. It is a political hit squad, which will create a platform for a parade of ANC allies, many of whom I have confronted and disciplined through proper legal procedures, in my own party and in the City.

    Apart from the distortions and outright lies that many of them will present at the Commission, such hearings will also make the most innocuous events and actions seem suspect. Every morsel will be seized on by reporters labouring under the illusion that they are covering an impartial judicial commission.

    The Commission will prove to be a poison-dripping tap, over many months, leaving a lethal lake that will be impossible to mop up in the course of my testimony. And I will be overcome by the fumes as I try to do so. But that, of course, is the purpose. And it is pure power abuse.

    The ANC has established the misperception that the Commission is impartial by appointing a judge as chair, which brings me to the other line of attack that de Vos employs – that I am guilty of undermining the judiciary.

    When I said on radio that “some judges allow themselves be abused, and unfortunately Nathan Erasmus is one of them,” I meant it.

    In accepting the appointment to chair the Commission, Erasmus ignored guidelines laid down by the Constitutional Court, which recommended that Judges turn down appointments outside of a court when such positions “create the risk of judicial entanglement in matters of political controversy.”

    Nathan Erasmus ignored them and, having done so, he cannot be protected from the consequences. The Commission is not a court, and its chairman is not acting in the capacity as a Judge and cannot expect the deference due to a judicial process. In fact, if anything, it is Erasmus’s decision to chair the Commission that has undermined the independence of the judiciary required, not my criticism of him.

    Helen Zille

  34. amused reader amused reader 22 April 2008

    @ Pierre

    Right then – Put up or shut up.

    So we now have the facts ‘From the horse’s mouth’ so to speak. Have you made a horrendous mistake and are you going to apologise, or has Helen Zille got it wrong? It must be one or other.

    @ Helen Zille

    Thanks for putting it straight. Keep up the excellent work, you have won the respect and admiration of a great number of people.

  35. Dawn Dawn 22 April 2008

    Maybe “Zille, Zillier, Zilliest” should become a compliment! Thank you, Helen Zille, for lifting the fog. It is the first time I have heard the full explanation of your position. Possibly this has a lot to do with the Media’s obsession with “sound bites”.

  36. Jazzy Jeff Jazzy Jeff 22 April 2008


    I am concerned when I hear things like “…..such hearings will also make the most innocuous events and actions seem suspect. Every morsel will be seized on by reporters labouring under the illusion that they are covering an impartial judicial commission.

    The Commission will prove to be a poison-dripping tap, over many months, leaving a lethal lake that will be impossible to mop up in the course of my testimony. And I will be overcome by the fumes as I try to do so…..”

    It sounds like there is somethings that you are aware off, that you are afraid of getting out in the public domain.

    What are these thing? ….

  37. Peter Peter 22 April 2008

    Kurt Hendricks on April 20th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I think Helen Zille answered perfectly.

    Jazzy Jeff on April 22nd, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    You must be the kind of person that goes fishing with hand grenades.

    In politics innuendo and lies reported by the press have more weight than facts. When last have you seen a front page article that says “Sorry, we got it wrong, we screwed up, the person was innocent. Here are the true facts” ok, maybe Noseweek is the exception.

    You have my vote Helen!

  38. Michael Diaz Michael Diaz 22 April 2008

    Right then Pierre, I think you’re next blog should be an apology to Zille. Helen is spot-on when she mentions this smear campaign. The ANC have constantly attempted to overthrow the successful DA coalition and mayor. Well more fool you, if you cannot see the full picture. The Erasmus commission is too politicized, as is the entire issue. This is just another smear campaign, the other commission in which the city was cleared is credible, this one is not. The Erasmus commission will take up a huge amount of taxpayers money, and what for? a political smear campaign by the ANC who have proved themselves too incompetent to CT and wider Western Cape voters.

    Long live the DA-led City of Cape Town and hopefully 2008 will bring about a DA-led Western Cape province.

    As ever Zille, we the rational people are fully behind you during this millionth dirty tactic of the ANC’s.

  39. amused reader amused reader 23 April 2008

    @ Pierre

    Oh so quiet………….

    You have been called, you cannot just go quiet and hope it will go away. we want to hear what you now have to say for yourself.

  40. Marian Marian 23 April 2008

    I hope Pierre is being quiet because he’s rushed to get a copy of the Erasmus Commission’s mandate so he can express the impartial academic opinion from a constitutional law expert on whether he would submit any organisation he belongs to the same scrutiny.
    I wait in breathless anticipation….

  41. anton kleinschmidt anton kleinschmidt 23 April 2008

    Lots of egg on lots of faces. Pierre?

    It would be absolutely wonderful if the ANC would allow the DA to get on with the job of running the city of Cape Town for the benefit of all its people. The ANC no doubt realise that this would merely highlight how badly they performed when they were in charge. Viva wedges and edges viva!

  42. Jon Jon 25 April 2008

    Well, Ms Zille, who so comprehensively gazumped the Professor-Who-Was-Weighed-and-Found-Wanting on this thread obviously knows where he lives. And, equally patently, how to gazump him at will, should she even be bothered to do so.

  43. Eagle Eagle 26 April 2008

    Vintage de Vos behaviour, which he also exhibited during my run-ins with him.

    Hit and run I think it’s called.

    In a way he reminds me of a friend of mine who became a religious fanatic and ultimately developed a bi-polar disorder.

    A man cannot serve two masters.

  44. Eagle Eagle 26 April 2008

    @ Helen,

    As the political correctness and the liberalism disappears, there appears to be emerging some impressive leadership abilities, not to mention the steel fist in the velvet glove.

    Keep the Cape out of ANC hands, correct the occasional leftist shift and I will vote for you as President, I promise.

  45. johnkweber johnkweber 15 May 2008

    I don’t really know why Helen Zille was so dead set against the commission. Having seen the way the commissions and reports get ingnored in SA should seem to render it useless anyway. What does go without saying is that whatever the commmissions find out, it would anyway be open to interpretation from all the different parties.

    Nothing is what it seems and seemingly nothing is as it should be. A real pity really, as South Africa is a most amazing country, full of expectation and promise. Where else can you become anything and do anything. We still have certain freedoms which are taken for granted here in SA but in other places like Zimbabwe are just taken away.

    It is truly hard to find solutions in a country where there is so much hurt and pain which has not yet been healed. Hatred is a difficult thing to let go of and not many people are capable of forgiving let alone forgetting.

    Unfortunately for us, we harm ourselves terribly by not being able to forgive. It is truly liberating to be able forgive and if you have truly forgiven you will forget automatically as time passes. Don’t forgive and it has the ability to consume your every waking moment and thought.

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