What is the fate of the DA in 2019?

April 7 - Delegates at the DA's federal congress at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria. Photo: ANA/Brenda Masilela

DA national leader Mmusi Aloysius Maimane and Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Success Madikizela has defied the dead canaries and thought that they could go into the Democratic Alliance mine and survive. Their stay in leadership in the Democratic Alliance will be short but meaningful.

Canaries, the birds that is, are said to be particularly sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide. Two gases, one may suggest, that are in over supply for Coloureds, Indians and Africans in the DA. Early coal mines, which did not have a proper ventilating systems, would have caged canaries in them. As long as the birds kept singing, the miners were fine and their air supply safe. A dead canary demanded an immediate evacuation of the mine.

It is sometimes difficult to determine whether Madikizela and Maimane are the coal miners, whose jobs it is to seek Black faces, or whether they are the canaries that are meant to be singing for their livelihoods. The minute they stop singing the prescribed tune, their fate is sealed. These two leaders have simply not learned their lesson in the methane and carbon monoxide stricken party.

They remind us of one David Malatsi. A miner in the former New National Party in Mpumalanga that would later, in 2006, describe himself as the “fall guy” for the Nats. Convicted of corruption in connection with the R550 million Roodefontein golf estate, Malatsi sang like a canary about how he believed he was “sold-out” by the former NNP.

While this canary died, Peter J Marais would be acquitted by the same court that found Malatsi guilty. Alas, Marais would later suffer a similar fate as Malatsi did under the DA when he was booted out for singing the same tune DA mayors, after him, would later sing: rename two streets in Cape Town after Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. As with Malatsi, when the DA was done with Marais he was as dead as a canary in a coal mine.

It would seem that the canaries in the DA have bred like love-birds. Lindiwe Mazibuko, Patricia de Lille, Veliswa Mvenya have almost certainly been given more gas than Mbali Ntuli, Wilmot James and Khume Ramulifho. Mazibuko’s booting from Parliament was described as “a blessing in disguise” by fellow DA MP’s, saving the parliamentary caucus from a “bruising leadership battle”. Yet just recently, overtures were made again to Mazibuko to stand as the premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal.

There is no doubt that Madikizela and Maimane know that their singing days are numbered. One wrong note, one wrong mistake and they are gassed. They are trying by all means to get rid of the toxic gasses in the Democratic Alliance but they just simply cannot. It is too overwhelming. 

Recent rumours of a break-away party, led by the White male liberals, indicate that Maimane and Madikizela are having an effect on destroying the Democratic Alliance. Maimane’s nationalism, all but calling for a wall to be built on our borders, together with that of Madikizela’s history has earned the irk of those who have their historic roots in liberalism. It is the reason why James Selfe has found it necessary, as the most senior liberal in the party, to remain put into his fourth term as chairperson of the federal council. While he attempts to keep the mine running, Maimane and Madikizela are running amok trying to prove the DA’s toxic history wrong.

Coloured nationalists such as Ivan Meyer, Dan Plato and Albert Fritz have grudgingly yet literally been forced to take a back seat in their chauffeur driven MEC cars. Not one of them can fly higher than they have and are like birds hitting the ceilings of their cages. In a province where the DA counts on the Coloured vote, none of these Coloured men may vie for the position of premier. Coloured women are dead canaries already in the DA.

Afrikaner nationalists such as Theuns Botha have rather gone into early retirement while Anton Bredell and Anroux Marais have joined Meyer, Plato and Fritz in singing for their political lives. Debbie Schafer, on the other hand, together with Donald Grant are in the liberal camp though both have proven to be disastrous in their portfolios. Donald Grant is unable to have any effect whatsoever on transport in the province while Schafer’s latest innovation of introducing the sale and consumption of alcohol in schools should bring in some funding for the party.

In all likelihood a deal will be struck between the African nationalists in the DA and the White liberals. Stanford Makashule Gana will be made the premier candidate for Gauteng, instead of the liberal Ghaleb Cachalia, while the liberals will get their candidate in the Western Cape, Alan Winde. 

The rumours have long been flying around about how Winde will take over from Premier Zille while de Lille needed to make way for Madikizela. It seems that the liberals even in the city are giving their provincial leader a run for his money, given that JP Smith seems to be wholly in charge of what happens or not. Grant Twigg, of course, another canary simply sings on the sidelines whilst sipping on a satisfying salary. With all the resignations and scandals hitting the DA in the Western Cape, including that of Lennit Max, as well as the need for Maimane to have intervened in the city, all proves that Madikizela is incapable of leading the DA. Even if Madikizela ends up in wearing the mayoral chain he will no doubt suffer the same fate as Grant Pascoe, Dan Plato and Patricia de Lille did.

Despite its protestations to the contrary, by both the likes of Maimane and Madikizela employed by the DA to be champions thereof, the DA is not a multiracial party nor even a non-racial one. One simply has to look at who their leadership is and who are the people calling the shots. While Madikizela might be the new face of the DA, Bredell continues to be the chairperson of the federal council and one can hardly imagine that he would sign off on an elections 2019 poster that will feature Maimane and Madikizela on it.

In fact, who can forget the attempt of the 2014 multiracial elections poster featuring a prominent White Helen Zille backed up with Patricia de Lille and Lindiwe Mazibuko. Well all three are today ‘personae non gratae’ in the Democratic Alliance of Maimane and Madikizela. The poster followed their “Fight B[l]ack” campaign in 1999. The DA is simply toxic for anyone who is not White and liberal.

Throughout the Western Cape and on the Cape Flats in particular people are dying, despondent and destitute. The DA has not offered these people a better life, especially after a decade of clean yet misgovernance. The Western Cape is in a worst position today than it was in 2009. Communities are torn apart by simple lack of basic service delivery while being evicted on a daily basis, an occurrence that happens under no other administration than DA ones.

The reality is that Mmusi Maimane and Bonginkosi Madikizela have attempted to black-wash, as opposed to whitewash, the cracks within the DA. They know that the members of their party do not care about basic service delivery, addressing the needs of the people or even bringing unity among different communities. Rather what we have seen from these two men is an attempt to send more Black people into the deadly DA only for these members to die like canneries in a toxic coal mine.

Meokgo Matuba is the Secretary General of the ANC women’s league