DA should never again enter a minority coalition with EFF to stay in power: Helen Zille

17 November 2020 - 14:00
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille blames the failure to secure by-election seats in Gauteng on coalitions with the EFF.
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille blames the failure to secure by-election seats in Gauteng on coalitions with the EFF.
Image: DONNA WATSON

The DA's losses in minority communities in Gauteng can be traced back directly to the party's dependence on the EFF to stay in power.

This is according to DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille, who reflected on the party's by-election losses.

Last week, the Electoral Commission (IEC) held the most by-elections in a single day in SA's history. The elections took place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all nine provinces.

The results were announced on Thursday, with the DA losing nine wards which it previously controlled, retaining 14 and winning two.

The party's losses were reflective of the DA's dismal performance in last year's general elections, in which its share of the vote fell from 30.78% in 2014 to 27.45% 

Reflecting on the losses, Zille said the ANC did worse than the DA and that support for the EFF “grew very slightly”. 

According to Zille, the DA's support “grew among both black and white voters”. She said the party saw a “sharp drop” in wards with a majority of coloured and Indian citizens.

Zille said in a statement that the votes the DA lost went to “small ethnic parties” rather than the ANC.

She said some of the crucial lessons for the DA, ahead of the 2021 local government elections, are to ignore the media, interpret the statistics accurately, understand the forces at work, and start the long road to recovery.

“When we enter governing coalitions, we must be confident that we will be able to govern properly. We must have candidates, especially mayoral candidates, of the right calibre. We need clear coalition agreements, that are enforceable,” said Zille.

“Above all, we should never again enter minority coalition governments in which we are dependent on our arch-opponents, the EFF, to stay in power. The fact that we did this led to the failure of our coalition governments in Tshwane and Johannesburg, severely damaging our 'good governance' brand.  

“Our losses in minority communities in Gauteng can be traced back directly to our failures in government in Johannesburg that arose from trying to keep the EFF 'sweet' so that we could stay in power. Walking the streets of Lenasia before the by-election I heard it first-hand: voters regarded it as a betrayal.”

Responding to Zille's statement, former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said Zille's analysis was “skewed to validate a propagandist narrative”.

“There were 95 ward elections and not 44,” said Gardee. “If the DA had contested them all, the true ratio of decline would have been more than two digits. The EFF is the only party that fielded candidates in all the 95 wards.”

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