Cosatu provincial secretary general, Tony Ehrenreich, says the Democratic Alliance is in a bind over disciplinary proceedings against Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
Ehrenreich told News24 this week that Zille’s comments about colonialism puts the party in a quandary, and they have to act against her, but won’t.
“Her comments were clearly insensitive for South Africa. It reveals her understanding of development and the damage that colonialism did to our country.
“They’re caught in a bind. How much do they pander to the old, liberal white base that still controls the party?
“There will be a hearing, there will be censure, but there will be nothing dramatic.”
He said Zille is not a rabid racist in the traditional sense of the word, but does believe she suffers from “latent racism”, which she cannot see beyond as she feels justified in her beliefs.
“Her view of the world is, we don’t need affirmative action, we don’t need to undo apartheid, we just need to give people the vote and then the playing field is level.
“She doesn’t want to undo those disadvantages in any kind of meaningful way.”
He said the party would do what it takes to send a message to black voters who are considering the party, but he expects her final charge to be nothing of major consequence.
People being ‘turned off ANC’
With regards to his own party in the province, Ehrenreich said the ANC has a lot of work to do to wrestle back any sort of sway in the Western Cape.
“Part of the problem is national, so they can’t do anything here that is not contaminated by what is being done nationally.
“Zuma is making a lot of mistakes, the ANC is making a lot of mistakes, and there has been lots of corruption linked to the ANC, much more visibly than any of the other parties.
“That does turn people off to the party.”
He said identity politics is also still the driving force behind voters’ support in the province.
People still vote along racial lines, or along their traditional voting patterns in white, coloured and black communities in the Western Cape.
DA better at handling perception
He said the DA are not delivering to poor people any better than the ANC had in the province, but they are better at handling the perception of good governance.
The DA have done well to build structures in communities, such as community policing forums, which build trust with communities even if there is no long-lasting change.
It would be very difficult for the ANC to change that perception any time soon in the province, he said.
He said both parties are struggling with a disjuncture between the political elite and the working class, which has grown wider since 1994, and is at the root of governance issues.
“The bigger you become, the more difficult it is to hold it together. The DA is having the same problems because of size.
“We also don’t have value-based leaders coming in. You have people coming in and forming groupings around business interests and political control.
“That happens in all organisations and, in South Africa, the environment is being perpetuated.”