Who really decided Zille must step aside for a Maimane leadership?


-Maimane’s candidacy – project Obama, is not his, neither is it Zille’s but perhaps an International one –

James Baldwin, accredited for having singed the frontal lobes of many white intellectuals in 1963 writes the following: “White Americans find it difficult, as white people elsewhere do, to divest themselves of the notion that they are in possession of some intrinsic value that black people need or want. And his assumption – which, for example, makes the solution of the Negro problem depend on the speed with which the Negroes accept and adopt white standards – is revealed in all kinds of striking way, from Bobby Kennedy’s assurance that a Negro can become President in forty years, to the unfortunate tone of warm congratulation with which so many liberals address their Negro equals-an achievement that not only proves the comforting fact that perseverance has no colour, but also overwhelmingly corroborates the white man’s sense of his own value” (James Baldwin 1963 THE FIRE NEXT TIME)


From this citation, it is clear that Barack Hussein Obama’s presidency was not merely a prophecy but an orchestrated activity in which the Kennedy Clan played its critical role exactly 40 years later.


We dare not forget the critical role the last senior of the Kennedy clan (Ted Kennedy) played in securing the 44th president as the first ‘black’ USA president in history.   I am of the view that orchestration is not unique to an Obama but may prove very plausible, in this musing in the succession debate of the Democratic Alliance.


A week or so ago, the leader of the opposition and the DA Helen Zille, announced her non-availability for contest of DA leadership in the immediate future. The aftermath of this press briefing afforded us many interpretations of this sudden unfolding paradigm. There are those who bestowed honour and salutations of congratulations on her for ‘her’ decision as that, which attest, and confirms progressive leadership.


Yet, others of whom I am one, remonstrated her decision did not come without a nudge if not an instruction.


Perhaps it is important to, first provide a context, Helen Zille makes her statement literally within days after she had returned from the USA having concluded a fundraising exercise. It is said she assembled a select and distinct group of people for her brainstorming at Leeuwenhof; two of those included in this meeting are some of her or the DA’s biggest funders. Maimane despite being the leader of the opposition in parliament did not attend this meeting, but the CEO of the DA did. Wilmot James the Chairperson of the DA did not attend this meeting also, clearly an interesting twist. Maimane we can assume did not attend because Zille did not want be seen to overtly anoint her successor, or to compromise Maimane’s candidacy hence he it is claimed did not know (politics). James was not invited because he stands on the other side of Zille’s prism and therefore not one to be trusted. This meeting results in the hastily convened press statement, which came with a cocktail of tears and emotions.


Shortly after this the public is introduced to the candidacy of a Mmusi Maimane who last weekend did not know if was going to stand or not, seemingly all of sudden confirms his readiness to stand. It is a given that Maimane has Zille’s blessing to lead the Democratic Alliance, we hear of rumours of a potential candidacy of Dr. Wilmot James but I dare assert of this nothing will come.


Mmusi Maimane whom many have already called ‘Mr. Obama’ in imitation will become the first black leader of the DA come the hour. The fervour with which he bestowed honour to a Zille bordered on the praise singing of an imbongi, yet that is all scripted because the SA-Obama project is unfolding.


Whilst this is a given, I will postulate that the decision for Helen Zille to step down does not simply attests local or domestic politics at play, but a serious global hand evidenced in the USA. Was Helen Zille told by the funders, its time you shift, and that time is now, and you will find a ‘black’ young leader because it is in the interest of some that the ANC is truly challenged with the view of unseating it in elections. There is no question that the funders for whatever reason are not in concert with an ANC leadership but tolerates it until it can produce what it believes is the correct formula to secure a victory in national polls. Whether this will work is yet to be discovered.


My premise for this is borne out in the building of a profile of a Mmusi Maimane, whose candidacy for a Gauteng Elections had a R120milion tag to it. Another reason why Mmusi and not a Lindiwe Mazibuko is to be that face is the reality of our politics of male dominance as often understood from a cultural context as acceptable with even the ANC Women’s league proving soft in aggression for a woman candidacy. The Gauteng elections contest was to be the springboard for catapulting Mmusi Maimane into relevance and place of prominence in the DA, which it is hoped is only a mid-stop to a possible presidency of SA. We must also calmly asked if the woman led move of a DA immanent in Helen Zille, Patricia De Lille and Lindiwe Mazibuko really had meaning for women advancement in the political economy. Close examination appears to suggest not.


We can also accept that Zille’s attempt at securing a parachuted ‘black’ face for the 2014 National Elections in a Mamphela Ramphele was not as innocent and stupid as is advanced but again a means by which the DA sought to adapt to the new reality of which I claim they are directed to go perhaps less by locals ( the true constituency of the DA) but by funders local and abroad.


There is another dimension I wish to add here, just as much as a Bobby Kennedy back in 1963 could predict or, as I would like to believe, orchestrate a future Obama presidency so we can confirm that Hillary Clinton will become the 45th President of the USA come 2016. It does not take rocket science to appreciate the hegemony of male dominance of politics as evidenced in the local USA and world contexts. Thus, it would have been more palatable for a black male (provided he is of certain standing) to surge in ascendance of political power ahead of a white female presidency.


Back to Maimane’s candidacy, Is it possible that in South Africa with its more progressive constitution and its need to show the world that it produced its first ‘white’ female opposition leader (Zille), the SA opposition proved more racial than the USA who in my assessment proved more chauvinistic in an Obama Election victory.


By the same token we may also ask if reverse of that male hegemony in party politics in the Democratic Party of a Tony Leon leadership, whilst confronted with the reality of a need to change to a black leadership, instead argued back then already we will rather have a female ‘white’ leader before we have a ‘black’ leader.


It is water under the bridge now that history finally caught up with the conservative Democratic Party (the enclave and hide out of all former National Party and Conservative Party members) who despite becoming a Democratic Alliance never shed its true identity of conservatism. The DA remains a party with an androgynous ideological definition, for it is made up of Afrikaner and English conservatives in claim of liberalism. In this season, it has secured a growing black voter base who does not necessarily understand this ideological challenge, but who is tired or angry with an ANC that it claims has failed.


Therefore, whilst the nominations and candidacy of the DA’s future leadership dynamics are unfolding and the proverbial taste of a black leader in a conservative setting though claimed as liberal, is proving not palatable for the majority of real DA supporters, the efficacy of holding on to the white dominance confirms an eternal description of a white party as opposition and not in line with the demanded dictate of those who truly control the future of the DA. That control plausibly may have a foreign funder hand.


In an earlier piece I wrote title ‘Steve Hofmeyr the evidence of the crisis of the Afrikaner Political Leadership’, I advanced the notion that the Afrikaner intelligentsia has never been able to accept its new position of opposition; it thus has a stubborn reluctance to participate in the design of the new democratic era. I argued the Afrikaner intelligentsia pins its hopes on a South Africa in failure, from this prims of a will and must fail, it readies itself to govern again once the failure is accepted as evident. This latter thought is what makes them not to participate meaningfully to contribute from its resources and skills, because its divestment in the democratic SA it its investment in a future rulership.


I now seek to extend the boundaries of this Afrikaner claim in saying the DA (who represents the earlier mentioned conservative Afrikaner and English voter-constituency) has made a calculated choice that it will never persuade SA voters to accept its vision unless it has a black face hence the choice of a Maimane. He now becomes the means to legitimise itself as a black party, sensitive to the critical dimension of youth role with the hope of governance less from a liberal but a conservative notion, which is in-sink with the Afrikaner aim, as advised by the  funders.


Maimane fits this paradigm as an educated, young leader, not ANC aligned, and who imbibes DA policy in all its facets. He is articulate as one who epitomises the new ‘race-free’ South Africa whose personal family attests this reality. He bridges the gap and is that male figure that feeds the paradigm of a not yet ready SA to be governed by a woman.


Maimane therefore is the project – Obama in the DA context, he will lead it, because upon him the hopes of a ANC unseating is placed, as carefully selected by those across the big waters less by those in domestic DA context who may prove dinosauric for finding a black leader acceptable even in 21 years after the advent of democracy. They will die a natural political death because their irrelevance in frozen paradigm is not congruent with this moment as determined by the funders of the DA and those who have an interest to see the ANC unseated.


I am afraid it is not as simple as it appears, I am afraid his candidacy was not his neither was it Zille’s but the funders who have deep pockets who read the times and like Kennedy in 1963 can correctly predict or orchestrate an outcome such as an Obama presidency so in this season Maimane is making history to become the first black leader of a white party with the hope of influencing the future elections.


I will also attempt to argue in a later piece that this is significant because it must mean in be seen as positive the interest of the national agenda. A shift to a middle ground from the SA Opposition party is necessary, hence a ‘black’ leader be it Mmusi Maimane or Wilmot James may be that bridge for that ideological shift. The ANC itself has to shift, though its closer to the middle ground than the Opposition Party. It is my view that Wilmot James will push more for this ideological shift than a Maimane. Thus if the DA elects a Maimane the shift will be slower because he does not naturally represent in ideology.


In conclusion, it remains my submission Helen Zille never stepped aside as a gesture of her own goodwill, but she was instructed to do what she did, by those before whom she bows.


The choice of Maimane is not that of the DA voters constituency, they too had not any say in it, equally it’s not Maimane’s choice he finds himself almost prophesied no rather orchestrated as the right man in the right place at the right time with the right profile.


Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator




What is the role of the Community of Faith in economic refugee status?

– The community of faith is obligated to be in partnership with a functional State –
I have chosen to start this piece with a double – edged question: Does anyone know where migrants legal or illegal or refugees first go when they enter a country and land? Perhaps when we can attempt answering this question we may carve out a role for the community of Faith in the myriad context of our challenging current claims of xenophobic violence. The most recent expression of xenophobic violence saw the posting of Biblical verses to condemn the actions of those who perpetrate in this season these dastard acts.
It is my submission that the expressions of the Community of Faiths exemplified in the local Christian Church, Jewish Synagogue, or Islamic Mosque are the places of Faith, which affords migrants a place to reconnect with a community away from the community they had always known in a sense of brotherhood.
The reality of one’s faith and teachings holds sway and become more prominent in times of uncertainty of dwelling. It is ones faith that one draws strength from, its one’s faith however defined or described that keeps the flickering hope of a future vivid. That faith finds expression in the community of believers where the importance of culture, dialect, or accent pales into oblivion when the fundamentals of a common identity immanent of a believer hold sway. It is thus therefore almost natural for the stranger / foreigner, to almost instinctively search for the place of worship because it holds a place of safety in that it informed by the dictates of Holy Writ necessitates the community of faith to respond in kind to those who are foreigners or strangers.
Yet the usage of the Biblical Text as found in Leviticus 20:33 speaks of a foreigner and stranger. This lends itself to us having to ask for the contextual reality of this notion of stranger and foreigner as understood in the Holy Writ. The moving of people from point A to B in the setting of a Leviticus connotes a city – State context at best, in which those who did travel were seldom the normal people, but essentially traders and these were also mostly men. Yet in our context stranger must be understood from a reality of what constitute a nation and its national borders. There are conventions stipulating clearly these national understanding in governance.
Generally, speaking the movement of people assume a crisis in the nation of birth, such crisis may be defined in a famine or war context. Should people leave their countries due to a specific crisis i.e. war or famine as was the case with the Somali’s the conventions governing these unique set of circumstances exists and is undersigned by most if not all participating countries of the UN in various forms. The conventions also are emphatic in description of definition of those who flee their country of birth labelling them as refugees. Refugees therefore are received in neighbouring states and there is a clear definition of the recipient states responsibilities to provide food, shelter, and medical care with the help of the international community.
It is also important to note that a refugee status is not an ad-infinitum status but it has a set period even if it may extend for years it always has temporal definition for it. Refugee status is informed by the reality that the crisis that caused the individual to leave his country of birth will come to an end therefore, affording the national to return to his country of origin.
What makes the movement of people peculiar in this our context and other African nations like Ghana etc. (As I pen this note, Ghana’s Union of Traders had resorted to the courts of law to press home the grievance about foreigners venturing into business ventures reserved for Ghanaians) is that movement people in this epoch is for economic reasons.
Unfortunately, there exist no conventions to deal with this reality of an economic refugee. There is thus a vacuum in governance of this type of refugee, despite the reality of global economic crisis that besets the world. Economic refugee status constitutes an acute grey area.
Appreciating the commonness of such reality for all strangers, one may postulate a role of the faith exemplified in Church, Synagogue, or Mosque in partnership with the State for those affected by the crises of the country of their origin.
It is here that I wish to evolve our debate to ask what has been the role if any of the FAITH agents in this our current dilemma of economic refugees and not refugees?
When I ask what has been the role of the FAITH it is less to prove short-sighted in comparing faith streams in popularity of contest but to search for the axis of what informs a FAITH based response to economic refugee status in the absence of regular conventions to dictate such help. A close examination of the Bible seems also silent on the subject of economic refugee status as far as I know.
It becomes challenging to understand the role of the community of Faith in this context where people left their country of their birth, not by crisis, to build a new life in another country and often not with the required due legal documentation that warrants a presence in the adopted nation.
• Is it the task of the community of Faith to firstly prove welcoming to the stranger of similar faith regardless of his legal or illegal status? The departure point for the one who imbibes the specific faith is that there is no strange land for the one who believes, hence, he is a brother. One may therefore extrapolate that the primary task of the community of faith is to prove welcoming and making the stranger feel at home. The task of the community of faith is to firstly provide in the basics of the needs of the stranger.

• Is it the task of the receiving community of faith to engage the stranger as to his legal status or not in the land he has entered?

• What responsibilities if any does the community of faith have towards the upkeep the State in as far as it relates to the honouring of statutory laws.

• How is that partnership between the community of Faith and the state actualised, as understood from the part of the community of Faith?

The partnership between State and the Communities of Faith must have a common purpose and common platform.
It therefore cannot be the task of the community of Faith to abet the breaking of laws to accommodate illegals particularly where there exist no legislative framework or international conventions on the status of economic refugees.
Neither can it be the community of faith’s task to prove silent on the illegals in use of swelling its numbers for its own political agenda.

The illegal economic refugee therefore cannot become a useful tool by which the community of faith may consciously built a relevance from which it in later context flex its muscle in claim of growth of its particular faith stream.

We must seek to understand its role, and to ask what has been its agency and to know if we can see a pattern or trends emerging that should direct and help us to meaningfully engage on the migrant and his faith in a strange land.
We must caution the community of faith however defined to desist functioning outside the confines of parameters of a partnership with the State, yet this partnership requires a functional state evident in all spheres of governance and engagement.
It has become important to challenge the Communities of Faith to articulate its position, stance and to share its praxis on engaging foreigners defined as economic refugees. For its role must be clear, denying others to accuse it to exploit the those who enter SA with the intend of building an economic life, yet in illegal way.

We must keep the community of Faith however defined accountable no different to the State to always act in the interest of the greater good less in self serving.
Bishop Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

“Xenophobic violence” : The debate we refuse to have!

– They say …. ‘THEY TAKE from us’…

It is said history repeats itself the first time in a farce the second in tragedy. Last night a long-standing friend and brother from Accra Ghana contacted me to assist him locating his brother since they could not track him, I am happy to report he is accounted for and in good health.

I finally found the courage to pen the note I was intimidated not to write because as leaders we are compelled in this season to prove circumspect not to fuel the actions of hooligans and African self-hate. Let me than therefore in the beginning be unambiguous and categoric, I along with my family, our church family, and friends circle vehemently condemn the attacks on fellow Africans in this season as we have done so in previous seasons. Our prayers are with the victims of these attacks.

As the tensions mount in pockets of SA in this season, we are forced to pause to ask have we ever truly engaged the subject of what is meant with xenophobia, or xenophobic violence or as some call it afrophobia in its periodic manifestations if and when it occurs. The historic reality of the usage of this term speaks of a violence meted out to the collective experiences of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, and on another platform as immanent in Europe for example with the Roma (Gypsies).

The upfront question I seek to introduce into the debate is can we comfortably claim xenophobia or xenophobic violence meted out to people because they are of a certain description i.e. Somali, etc, as was the case with the Jews?

It appears we are all constrained to engage the subject matter because it is believed from some quarters when you raise issues around it you are on the side of violence and criminal behaviour. I am deliberately not going to entertain this shady and suspect prism of an either or, particularly since we have yet to establish by what arrogated powers are we forced into silence with this claim of either or paradigm? Why are we as leaders finding ourselves brow- beaten to toe a line of condemning only and not engaging in analysing in this season?

It is my contention that the debate on xenophobia or what I shall call ‘xenophobic violence’ remains a shallow one. Is it than surprising that this is repeating itself hardly seven years later at least for the third time now if the recent Soweto incidents of early 2015 are included. In some quarters, we even hear some remonstrate there should not be any debate for this is purely criminal. Political parties no different to most constituencies making up our society fuels this shallow debate, and lacks the wherewithal to help SA engage this nettle.

Yes, our approach to this subject suggests a haphazard response because we argue in simplicity of a real crisis, as an event, with the only desire to get it off our radar as the proverbial fly that disturbs us. We consciously refuse to engage the mumbled articulation of those directly affected of issues at hand. We prove dismissive in ease of their claim. We should know being dismissive does not take away the issues some may advance at least as seen and experienced by those who choose to rise and attack.

Today we all jump and condemn the attacks (rightfully so) but unfortunately that is but only a first step if we are serious to deal with the issue of xenophobia / afrophobia. Condemning the perpetrators is the easy part; dealing with the intertwined challenges, which ultimately manifests in xenophobic violence and attacks is what we cannot escape. We may continue to have afrophobia – xenophobia attacks if we continue to be dismissive of the claims of those who today attack fellow Africans. Equally, we may continue to have xenophobic attacks if we continue to be dismissive of the need to provide an orderly framework within the legitimate entrepreneurial desires of all involved.

To argue those who persist in their mumbled contention as mere hooligans / criminals because we are embarrassed of their wanton behaviour, is to fail to appreciate that the issues raised by those who in this season have taken it upon themselves to attack fellow Africans warrants engagement. These issues often finds claim in a mumbled articulation be it the Cape Town, Eastrand, Soweto or now Kwa Zulu Natal. The central theme as it is heard in the media adopts the notion of ‘they take our jobs, our business, our women, our children and our RDP homes’.

When we hear them say, THEY TAKE the above we prove dismissive in claims of South Africans are lazy, wanting government to do everything for them. These responses as categoric as they are made, recorded, and articulated consciously refuse to hear the two critical words – THEY TAKE…

It is here that I wish to postulate ‘xenophobic violence’ does not manifests in the spaces where the ruling class lives, transact and play, for here the borders and boundaries have been set informed by ownership of means or a sharing therein as the ruling class permits.There is no question that many of our fellow African brothers and sisters in semblance of pockets are also present here and are not affected by this afrophobia.

Xenophobia does not play out in manifestation in a middle class setting; it does not make its way to suburbia SA where the order of a middle class insulates those of this class definition. Again, there is no question that our fellow African brothers and sister are represented in this group too and live comfortably in contribution to a functional SA in all manifestations of its lived experience.

Xenophobic violence finds traction among the poorest of the poor. It finds meaning where there is a contestation for resources, services, and access however defined. It is here where the subject of – THEY TAKE – is most prominent and finds meaning. Please do not misread me to argue the poor are naturally prone to behave in a xenophobic manner, but hear the context rather than a conclusive view on the poor. It operates in a space and place where the most vulnerable struggles to eke out an existence in the midst of a rightfully or wrongly claimed persistent taking from them.

It operates in the midst of those for whom a historic, present, and future disenfranchisement, regardless the beauty of a constitutional democracy, is more than tangible. Yes those who have not shared in this South African dream of a collective future of equal opportunity. When the poor, those trapped in a space of contestation for basic resources, claims being left behind (rightfully or in error of claim) as forgotten and sees another (foreign) enter their space and derive an economic benefit, claim a right of equality from the very context of their poverty they see it again as – They take- It is not an exact science but a lived experience in which the margins of advancement are contested in a township. Let us also not forget those who come to the township from the deep rural villages come to share in its economy and equally find a place to eke out an existence for their personal and family’s survival.

The interesting reality is as earlier advanced the absence of xenophobic violence in certain social spaces confirms that a regulated context is possible. Meaning we have a working model. The question becomes why we are showing a reluctance to extend the same to the poor. Our democratic project does not afford us the luxury to leave the poor to fend for themselves.

A further noteworthy point is the responses the elite and middle class exhibit, it appears they enter in response to xenophobic violence less with the victims, the poor in mind, but themselves as the epicentre for their articulation of solutions. In fact it says more about our middle class pervasive embarrassment than the real concerns for the victims of those unacceptable inhumane attacks. We therefore must desist to prove dismissive of the claims of those who participate in these inhumane attacks. It is not because there exist no case for experiencing of ‘they take’.

Perhaps if we are less crisis driven, less event-focussed and more conscious of generating a dialogue of equals on the subject matter of this -they take – as an experiential reality, we may grasp the nettle of the periodic unacceptable attacks on our fellow Africans in understanding the context better. Ours dare not be to simply be dismissive in labelling fellow South Africans mere hooligans; this is the easy way out and a focus on the peripheral aspects. It is a given that in all unrests there are components of hooliganism, and political parties, civil society and structures of community will tell you their genuine causes often remain hijacked by a handful of hooligans.

We do not have the luxury of reducing a cause to mere hooliganism when we in our own marches and civil unrest have seen this phenomenon time after time. When political leadership huddles in claims of being dismissive we fail to acknowledge the reality because leadership often is insulated as part of the ruling elite and from that presence may truly be out of touch with the notion of they take, in fact it cannot make sense given where the ruling and middle class finds themselves.

When our minister of Internal Affairs rises to respond to the subject it cannot be in absence of the acknowledgement of an admittance that the true record of foreigners in SA is non-existent sketchy and very precarious. It cannot be devoid of admittance that our borders as a sovereign independent state prove porous, soluble and open for abuse on a daily basis. It cannot be devoid of admittance that the framework in which the entrepreneurial energy of the poor is suppose to be harnassed is not functioning well hence the periodic outbursts of violence.

The xenophobic attacks with a genesis in recorded history since 2008, warrants us to ask some serious tough questions. It is in our collective interest to open our minds to ask the tough questions:

1. What is our true policy on migration and how is that policy experienced as a lived reality ?

2. What is the real contestation of the poor ( defined by some as shameless hooligans) all about?

3. Where does this ‘xenophobic violence’ find resonance and traction for it to be so easy to manifest given our commitment to the undersigning of the UN conventions of asylum seekers and refugees coupled with our own SA laws of human rights base laws for citizenry and foreigner protections of rights?

Perhaps the biggest problem in our long overdue debate is the fact that the ruling elite have determined xenophobia a non-debate.

The ruling elites aided by a middle-class have decided this a criminal manifestation and therefore not to be entertained in plausibility of what we can learn from it. Therefore in the absence of a truly engaged strategy I am afraid in a country where inequality, poverty, and unemployment remains the true challenges with astronomical growing numbers the challenge of ‘xenophobic violence’ a, as a response to the claim – they take – may occur with ease from time to time.

We must needs find another analysis of this phenomenon, if we in any sense serious to eradicate the demon of xenophobia as a future reality. In the absence of such we will remain, reactionary, incidental, trapped in state of public relations exercise of damage control in which we refuse to engage the phenomenon in the fullness of its manifestation.

Until we deal with the multiplicity of dimensions of this issue lumped together in a term ‘xenophobia’ we still have to engage, regardless to how discomforting it may make us feel we may endure tragedy time after time.

Bishop Clyde N. S. Ramalaine