Since the African National Congress(ANC) came to power in the 1990s, it has not enjoyed the presence of any opposition groups, particularly those led by a white woman. Helen Zille who did an outstanding job as mayor of Cape Town and just won the premier position in the province has upset President Zuma and the ANC for charging failure to act against the AIDS/HIV crisis. She gained a 51% majority in the Cape province and took it away from control by the ANC. She has made several provocative comments about the attitude of President Zuma whose famous remark on how to prevent AIDS infection was to take a shower after sexual intercourse. Zille was a thorn in the side of Apartheid leaders and strongly supported the ANC and Nelson Mandela. However, the ANC youth group has accused her of being a racist and a loose woman.
There is no question Helen Zille has a loose cannon for a mouth and will blast away at corruption and stupidity at the drop of a hat. She has blasted drug dealers and wants action to end AIDS/HIV which infects nearly a thousand South Africans each day. A new democracy such as South Africa needs opposing voices, that is the hallmark of democracy.
The politics of nastiness is strong in South Africa these days as open clashes occur between Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance and Jacob Zuma, the newly elected president of the nation and his African National Congress. Zille continues to blast Zuma for his record of being blatantly sexist while now herself being charged with ignoring women’s rights in selecting members of her Cabinet. Allan Boesak of the newly founded Congress of the People, (Cope) urges both Zille and Zuma to tone down their political debate. “What South Africa and here people do not need now is political discourse conducted at the level of personal attacks rather than responsible arguments.”
Boesak reminds Zille and other opponents of Zuma that the vast majority of the nation voted for the African National Congress and it was time to end personal attacks and get back to the issues facing society. In many respects, this clash is similar to Republican attacks on President Clinton and his sexual escapades which eventually got out of hand and became caught in impeachment proceedings that tore apart the country.
Jacob Zuma is undoubtedly a man whose past experiences reveal lack of respect for women and their dignity as individuals. Helen Zille is a fighter for democracy, but selecting an all white, all male Cabinet is insulting to both women and black skinned people.
helen Zille, leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance and mayor of Cape Town, charged the African National Congress(ANC) was divided as the old National Party of apartheid days, between the “verligtes” and the “verkramptes.” The former were those who wanted to reform apartheid and possible even end it, while the latter wanted to continue the cruel policies of apartheid. “The ANC, after only 14 years, is showing the same schism. It is also divided between its verligtes who support constitutional rule, and its verkramptes who want to subordinate the Constitution to the pursuit of power.” She drew attention to remarks by ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, who said openly that the ANC was more important than the Constitution. Zuma is charged with corruption and could wind up in jail, but Zille believes his supporters will do everything possible to avert this possibility since the ends justify the means.
Zille insists every liberation movement goes through the same cycle of power. “Liberation struggles are about attaining power. Constitutional democracy is about limiting power. Very few activists who have engaged in liberation struggle understand this distinction.” Those who fight to attain power equate their power with furthering the ideas of the struggle and any attempt to limit power is thus regarded as counter-revolutionary.
Zille is seeking to create a new political alignment in South Africa in which ANC believers in constitutionalism will join forces with other groups such as the Democratic Alliance in order to create a new South Africa which is based on respect for constitutional law. South Africa needs a new political vision if it is to pursue the road of democracy.