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




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