/ 1 October 2015

DA to deal with Kohler Barnard after PW Botha post

DA spokesperson on police Dianne Kohler Barnard.
DA spokesperson on police Dianne Kohler Barnard.

On Thursday morning, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced that DA spokesperson on police Dianne Kohler Barnard would face internal disciplinary procedures after she shared a Facebook post praising apartheid leader PW Botha.

The post, written by journalist Paul Kirk, noted: “Please come back PW Botha – you were far more honest than any of these ANC rogues, and you provided a far better service to the public …”

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi has weighed in on the furore surrounding a the repost that praised PW Botha saying it has damaged the DA brand but was not different to veteran journalist Allister Sparks comment admiring Hendrik Verwoerd at a DA conference. 

Sparks said at the time: “I’ve encountered some really smart politicians, the likes of Harry Lawrence, Bernard Friedman, Margaret Ballinger, Helen Zille, Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Marais Steyn, Japie Basson and Hendrik Verwoerd.”

Matshiqi said that the DA was being expedient in disciplining Kohler-Barnard because of the negative affect her repost had on the DA brand. 

“What matters is that you have among black South Africans people to whom it reinforces a pre-existing perception that the DA is a party of white interest,” he said. 

The ANC has also weighed in calling for Kohler-Barnard to be fired from Parliament. 

“A person who holds such backward, dangerous and racially divisive views cannot continue to serve in this democratic Parliament,” said ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement. 

He said if the DA does not fire her it would continue to “give rife to the observation that the DA is an apartheid party that uses black people to window-dress its deep-seated racism and white supremacy”.

Maimane and former party leader Helen Zille said Kohler-Barnard’s actions were indefensible and would be subject to an internal disciplinary process. Maimane said the DA does not support any views that welcome Botha. 

Kohler-Barnard has repeatedly apologised for the post and has subsequently deleted it. She referred to her action as “absolutely stupid”. 

The vocal MP said she had unwittingly shared many post around suspended KZN hawks boss Johan Booysen by the journalist Paul Kirk who wrote the Botha post. 

Matshiqi said one cannot discount the fact that she may have reposted the distasteful post approvingly but apologised only when realising the damage it had to the DA brand. 

“It was extremely foolish on her part,” he said. 

The ANC has reminded the public that this was not the first time a DA leader was involved in a racist spat. 

It drew reference to a DA councillor in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality who two months ago referred to a UDM councillor as “Councillor bobbejaan [baboon]”.

A furore erupted last year after the general elections when DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters tweeted a picture which likened ANC  voters to dogs. He had subsequently apologised for it.