/ 12 April 2019

We haven’t sidelined Zille – DA

Helen Zille has been actively involved in the DA's election campaign.
Helen Zille has been actively involved in the DA's election campaign. (David Harrison/M&G)

The Democratic Alliance says outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is still on the campaign trail for the party.

Community safety MEC Alan Winde will take over as premier after the May 8 elections. Zille, the longest-serving Western Cape premier,said goodbye to DA supporters at the unveiling of the party’s Western Cape election manifesto in early March.

Since then, Zille has not been attending major DA rallies to her signature tune of Brenda Fassie’s Vulindlela, opting rather for small, public meeting-style events.

The DA’s national spokesperson, Solly Malatsi, says it would be unwise not to use Zille to campaign for the DA and show the party’s successes where it governs.

There have been suggestions that Zille has been sidelined from party activities ever since social media storms erupted as a result of her unchecked tweets. Last week, she again tweeted that colonialism wasn’t all bad.

“At this stage, it’s important that every DA member contributes towards the campaign. There are people like MECs, mayors and the premier, who’ve got government roles. It’s important for them to showcase the successes of those governments because they are examples of the DA difference,” Malatsi said.

There have also been comparisons between the leadership styles of Zille and party leader Mmusi Maimane.

Zille is said to be close to the party’s provincial leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, who lost out on the premier candidature to Winde.

But in March, Zille hit out at a poll by research company Citizen Surveys that said 58%of DA voters were more likely to vote for the party if Zille was the leader. Responding on social media, Zille said: “Mmusi Maimane led the DA into government in Nelson Mandela Bay, Jozi and Tshwane. I never achieved that, as hard as I tried.Let’s all just focus on the next victory. And the next.”

Denying that the party was avoiding using the premier for election campaigning,Malatsi said: “Any former leader of the DA at any given time can contribute in different ways. The premier is currently contributing to the party in her role as premier of the Western Cape. And she has run a solid administration we can use as a model of successful government.”

Winde confirmed Zille’s active involvement in the party’s election campaign, adding that government obligations limited her electioneering activities.

“She’s definitely on the trail. Last week she had a big public meeting in Plettenberg Bay, then she was in George, so she’s on the trail. And while you’re on the trail you still have to run a government,” he said.

“So it’s the government that doesn’t give you the break or the time off. So you have to balance the two.”