THE BLOG

A DA Voter Asks Helen Zille: 'Are You Oblivious Of The South African Context?'

"You should understand that most people will not have read your book, and will not understand that you made sacrifices to fight for what you believe in."

17/03/2017 10:29 SAST | Updated 17/03/2017 10:44 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Western Cape Premier and former Democratic Alliance Leader Helen Zille arrives for President Jacob Zuma's Sate of the Nation address at the opening session pf Parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015.

Dear Helen,

I feel compelled to write to you after your recent Twitter tirade. It smacked of those tweets the leader of the free world sends without forethought or context...

So I'd like to write to you about context. You see, the old adage that you only truly understand when you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes still holds true!

This is my context: I am a white. I am male. I am a DA supporter. I support, as your website states, "one nation with one future built of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all!" I share the frustrations of many when I look at the state of our nation and my heart bleeds for those most vulnerable in our society who continually get cast aside like pawns by leaders who do not believe that accountability matters. I believe these people deserve a better alternative and I believe the DA can offer this. I also believe your twitter rant has damaged the party as a viable alternative as do many in the "twitter-verse" as attested to by the response...

I recently read your book and it gave me context about who you are. Your true commitment in creating an open and free society based on human dignity and equality is clearly evident in the book. I do not believe most people know this about you. I believe it is convenient for the ANC to overlook when you stood side-by-side with many of those that are now politically connected during the dark days of apartheid. I also appreciate the fact that you did not sugar-coat and clearly state that in the South African context a black leader of the opposition was imperative in unlocking race-based voting, growing the DA support base on principle, policy and performance, instead of race.

I believe because of your past, you should have particular insight and understanding for the South African context.

But, you should understand that in the South African context, most will not have read your book, most people will not understand that you, a white middle-aged woman, made sacrifices to your own personal safety and that of your family to fight for what you believe in. I believe because of your past, you should have particular insight and understanding for the South African context. I also believe what you should understand is no matter your personal sacrifices or the fact that you got your hands dirty when most chose to stick their heads in the sand, you have no right to forget the South African context and what you said was simply stupid and indefensible.

The fact that we have lessons to learn from other countries is undeniable. But colonialism is not the lesson and any of the purported benefits thereof is also not the lesson. Colonialism, like apartheid, was demeaning, an appropriation by one to the detriment of another. It was violent, unprovoked and self-serving by its very nature, like a kid grabbing a toy from another on a playground.

So what is this South African context? We are a sensitive, scarred nation! No matter if you're a "born-free" there is an ingrained culture in all of us – yes even whites - that talks to previous hurt. You do not need to be black to feel this, you simply need to be human. You took great offense when the WITS SRC chair, Mcebo Dlamini, said ALL was not wrong with Hitler. Perhaps your Jewish heritage was offended, perhaps you thought about your people's suffering in the holocaust, but perhaps you just understood that certain things, despite the passage of time, are simply wrong and indefensible!

So I beg of you, why would you not show the same sensitivity when talking to your own people? Have you lost touch with who we are? Or are you oblivious to the South African context?

Yours sincerely,

Johan Redelinghuys