On Sunday, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille announced she would not be standing for re-election as national leader at the DA’s federal congress in May. The surprising announcement has led to speculation about who will take Zille’s place and whether the party will evolve under black leadership. RA’EESA PATHER asked Capetonians what they thought about Zille stepping down.
Claudi van der Merwe, 19, student, Cape Town
I don’t think it’s a good thing. She was quite nice, and her good leadership shows in that the Western Cape is sorted out well if you compare it to other parts of South Africa. I don’t know if I will still support the party when she steps down. If a black leader takes over, then he or she could change the party; it just depends on who he or she is.
Sikhumbuzo Tshakeni, 30, clerk, Khayelitsha
She’s giving other people a chance so it’s a good thing. The DA is doing well because there are no protests here, unlike other provinces. It will be a good thing if they had a black leader because they will get more votes from black communities. I think the DA is a party for all people, that perception of it as a white-dominant party [isn’t true] – like now in the townships there are people supporting DA.
Lienke Niemand, 20, student, Greenpoint
I don’t think it’s good she stepped down, but I also think she got into a lot of trouble because she’s a woman. If a man is in charge, if he has the same vision as her then it’s fine. A woman doesn’t come across very strong as a leader. I believe women are strong enough, but the public doesn’t see it that way. A black leader won’t change anything in the party; half the party is already black. With her stepping down, a lot of people will change their mind that the DA is a white party, especially if they get a black leader.
Sitha Ludidi, 31, waitress, Philippi
I was surprised when I heard she was stepping down. Zille is a very strong leader, but she isn’t perfect. If the party has a black leader, I don’t think it will really change. In townships, they voted for Zille. I know where I live, most of the people voted for the DA. I’m not happy they voted DA, because Zille was only using those people for her own benefit. That would probably change under a black leader, because they would understand where we are coming from.
Adrian Andries, 48, aluminium and glass window repairman, Hermanus
It’s good she’s stepping down. The DA does nothing for our community. If a black leader takes over, things will change. A black leader would do something about the problems we have, because he will be able to see what is happening in our communities. We say the DA is a white party because they do nothing for black communities.