Translated from a column by Frans Cronje appearing in Rapport newspaper on 10 November 2019
The unmistakable lies, misleading information and news manipulation of the mainstream media reached record levels in response to leadership changes in the DA. Just think about how you were deceived.
The first lie was that there was an “exodus” of black leaders from the DA. There wasn’t. A total of five DA leaders resigned from their positions in the party, two of whom were black. Of these two, Mmusi Maimane was one and he was asked to resign in a report he himself requested!
The second lie was that black people would only vote for a black DA leader. The data shows that this is not true. The sharpest increase in black support for the DA in a national election was between 2004 and 2009 when Helen Zille led the party. The rate of increase in this support slowed after Maimane became the leader.
Would the journalists who wrote it only vote for someone of their own skin colour? And if not, why do they think that all black people are different?
The third lie was that the DA wants to lead South Africa back to apartheid. This lie is suggested in a newspaper cartoon where Maimane leaves the DA with the new South African flag draped over his shoulder, leaving a new DA emblem in the colors of the old South African flag.
The DA and its predecessors fought apartheid from start to finish. To accuse them now of accepting it is pure propaganda.
The fourth lie was that Maimane was very popular and that the DA made a huge mistake by letting him go. I liked Maimane, but I’m afraid he wasn’t that popular. For example, polls showed that he was the only party leader who was not considered “very popular” by a majority of his own party’s supporters.
The fifth lie was that the DA will now “give up” Johannesburg and Pretoria to the ANC. The DA never won Johannesburg and Pretoria. In the 2016 municipal election, the party received 38.4% of the vote in Johannesburg compared to 44.5% for the ANC. In Pretoria, it did slightly better with 43.2% compared to the ANC’s 41.3% – but it is still not a majority.
The sixth lie was that the DA does not want black leaders. Anyone claiming this shows a complete misunderstanding of the attitudes of many DA leaders. The opposite is true and one can reasonably criticize the party for being over-zealous in its promotion of young black leaders.
The seventh lie was that the Institute of Race Relations (my employer) conducted a coup within the DA and took over the party. It is flattering to suggest that we have so much power and I would like to take credit for it, but that is unfortunately not the truth.
Since early this year we have already started telling clients that the DA may have moved past a turning point and that a new political option may have been needed to save South Africa.
When Helen Zille, who joined us months ago under a one-year contract, informed me that she would compete for the federal leadership position, I was very surprised, but wished her good fortune – and was even more surprised that she won. I hope she and the DA will be successful – but whether the party is a sustainable institution is something that still needs to be proven.