Oh come on, children!

I think the country deserves better than the rubbish and low-brow politics we’ve been dished up over the past few days. We’re used to imbecilic statements from the ANC Youth League, but this time they’ve exceeded even their own rock-bottom standards.

The Youth League’s vitriolic attack on the opposition leader was inexcusable. But also inexcusable were DA leader Helen Zille’s highly-personal and inappropriate comments about the country’s president. Zille can cry she was “quoted out of context”, but seasoned politicians who speak to the media all the time should know better. I think by her own purported high standards it was an error in judgement and she should apologise.

What’s really disappointing was that Zille’s statement came after an olive branch was extended to opposition parties by President Zuma, offering a new way to work together. Justifiable criticism of Zuma aside, he is the president — and we have to move on and give him a chance. Personal attacks so early after an election are not a good omen.

How does the DA expect Zuma to respond to the inappropriate comments? Why is Zille making such statements, knowing full well these early moves define the tone of future working relationships? In my humble opinion, the DA miscalculated — and spoiled the after-election glow for themselves and the country.

The off-colour “stop Zuma” posters also signalled a worrying change in the DA’s attitude and a return to their old-style aggressive chihuahua style of politicking, which serves to only raise the temperature, rather than level of debate. It’s low-brow and desperate, irritating most of the electorate to gain a few percentage points more. It’s minor short term vote gain for a bigger, longer-lasting loss of political currency. And political currency is critical if you are to be a credible opposing force, as opposed to one nobody really listens to.

A fractious opposition-government relationship is unhealthy and not constructive. Be an opponent, but work together. The acerbic Leon-Mbeki era was bad for the country, the Zille-Mbeki period showed what can be achieved with more constructive engagement.

I’ve run into Zille on two occasions — both on my cellphone. While working at the M&G Online about 2 years ago she had called me and then promptly arrived at the Joburg office to complain in person about a profile we’d done on her. Then about three weeks ago I was jolted out of a quiet, gentle drive along Llandudno’s Victoria road while listening to election news on Cape Talk. The resourceful Zille had somehow got hold of my number again and called me to complain about a “complete work of fiction” on the M&G Online. (She didn’t know that I had long-since left).

Zille is a fiery politician whom I have respect for. She comes across as a hard worker and someone who appears to set high standards. But I think by her own high standards, this debacle has been a setback. She’s emerged the biggest loser in this, and is in an unfortunate situation where she has been chastised and grouped together with the rabble in ANCYL. Ironically, the ruling party has emerged the winner, despite the actions by its own youth wing. It’s also high time that the ANC once-and-for-all reign in its ill-disciplined youth league. Yesterday’s public rebuke was a good start.

South Africa deserves better than this rubbish. There’s lots of work to do.

Comments (5)

  1. Pratish wrote::

    Matthew I definitely agree with your sentiment in this post.

    I think Zille is a better administrator – i.e. someone to get the job done – than a politician. She has more power now to make a difference than ever before and a more appropriate strategy for her would be to focus on delivery rather than objecting against everything and anything. Smart politicians choose their battles carefully.

    As for Malema, Floyd and the ANCYL, they certainly provide for some rather sad but funny comic relief with their inarticulate childish comments – at the very least they seem to be great for the South African cartoon industry! Check out the Julius Malema cartoons and also the latest Zille vs Malema Politician Celebrity Deathmatch cartoon on Wonkie – think you’d enjoy them!

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm #
  2. Charmain Naidoo wrote::

    Matthew, what are you suggesting that Zille apologise for?
    Fact: Jacob Zuma, by his own admission, had sex without a condom (unprotected sex) with a woman who was not his wife thereby putting his various wives at risk of infection.
    That resulted in Mantashe calling her public enemy no.1, and the racist little girl, whore name calling from ANCYL. Honestly, lets keep things in perspective here.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm #
  3. Muzi Mohale wrote::

    Charmain, we have serious issues to worry about. Zuma has won all his battles and it’s time to move on. Zille is being personal which doesn’t help build a health relationship between the two parties. Zuma is now your president unfortunately, therefore live with it. He has been able to silence people like yourself. Msholozi is here to stay.

    Friday, May 15, 2009 at 6:49 am #
  4. Steve Hayes wrote::

    I was hoping that after Leon had departed the DA would be a bit more constructive, and have been disappointed that it has not.

    If Helen Zille doesn’t want to be called a “little girl” she should stop the infantile behaviour and drop the playground insults and behave like an adult. The same, of course, applies to Malema.

    Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 6:21 am #
  5. To advocate for human rights, peace, and social justice while ignoring their necessary ecological basis –— a stable human population – at, or slightly less than – the eco-systems long term carrying capacity — is intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.


    Official Legal and Political Complaint to Nobel Institute: Norwegian Nobel Committee (excerpt):

    Dear Norwegian Nobel Committee,

    Notice of Legal and Political Request to:

    (I) Withdraw Nobel Peace Prize’s from Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for (a) Intellectual Dishonesty & Hypocrisy; (b) Moral, Political and Religious Prostitution; and (c) ‘TRC-RSA’ Fraud and Betrayal; and

    (II) Accept Nobel Peace Prize Nominations for Dr. Albert Bartlett; Dr. Garret James Harden, and Dr. M. King Hubbert, for Intellectually Honest and Politically Honourable Ecologically Sustainable, Human Rights, Peace and Social Justice Advocacy.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm #