Rise Mzansi's Songezo Zibi accuses 'arrogant' DA of 'swart gevaar' tactics

People want solutions that 'bring people together across race and class'

10 April 2024 - 21:43
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Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi says his party is ready to contest the national and all nine provincial elections.
Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi says his party is ready to contest the national and all nine provincial elections.
Image: Supplied

Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi has accused the DA of using swart gevaar (black danger) tactics in its campaign against new political parties which are not part of the DA's multi-party charter.

The party which governs the Western Cape is “arrogant” and its attitude a turn-off for the majority of South Africans, said Zibi.

He was addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday just days after DA leader John Steenhuisen referred to “political mercenaries in small parties like Rise Mzansi, Patriotic Alliance, Good and the National Coloured Congress, whom he said were trying to break the DA-led province despite its good governance record. 

Addressing the DA’s launch of the provincial manifesto in Paarl at the weekend, Steenhuisen asked: “Why are these parties obsessed with targeting this province — the only province that works, where the 1,200 law enforcement officers deployed under the ground-breaking LEAP programme have already made 27,000 arrests?

“I’ll tell you why: because the DA-led Western Cape is the last province with anything left to loot! That’s what this is all about,” he said. “You’ll never see these political mercenaries in small parties campaigning in ANC provinces like Limpopo or North West. Why? Because they know that the ANC has already stolen everything there is to steal in those provinces.

“The rest of the country is bankrupt, so the last place left to loot is the Western Cape.”

Zibi took issue with this.

“I stand before you as a freshly minted black radical who wants to take away property rights. Me, former editor of Business Day, senior official in a commercial bank, and an investment bank, and a mining company and a car manufacturing company. Me, but that’s the South Africa in which we live. We don’t know each other, sometimes we refuse to know each other or we decline the opportunity to know each other or understand one another’s experiences,” he said.

They were being called “mercenaries” for listening to voters unhappy with the DA government, and for offering an alternative, he said.

“He has even said we are gangsters who are going to pillage this province. You cannot say you believe in democracy but then cry foul when someone else tries to exercise it on what you deem to be your own turf,” said Zibi about Steenhuisen. “Leave aside the entitlement of this, the idea that no-one has the right to challenge a party in power. John asks, why are they coming to the Western Cape? Coming? From where?

“This is the worst kind of swart gevaar. It is illiberal, it is divisive, and it further proof that the DA under [Helen] Zille and Steenhuisen will never reach the black voters it needs if it is to govern South Africa. “In fact, it’s the reason so many credible black leaders have left the DA; some of them have joined Rise.”

Zibi spoke about how old parties stay in power, saying this was due to broken politics where politics are transactive and people saw politics as something that benefits politicians, not the people. “And so they often refuse to vote if a down payment of sorts is not made: what can you give us if we give you your vote? Increasingly, they just opt out. This means the old parties fight for a dwindling electorate, and benefit from grudge votes, or resigned votes, rather than a committed base.”

The second reason was that there had been no viable alternative.

He said people wanted leaders to know and understand their experience, and offer solutions coloured by empathy and compassion and the willingness to genuinely listen. They also want solutions that bring people together across race and class rather than drive them apart. To date, that alternative has not existed, he said.

Zibi said parties in the multi-party coalition claim they are going to “fix” or “rescue” South Africa, suggesting “that a Messiah will swoop in and sort things out”.

“Is the DA that Messiah on the basis of its track record in the Western Cape? Many people in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Manenberg disagree.”

He said he was using the DA because he was speaking in Cape Town and because its leader has decided to pay particular attention to Rise Mzansi and was not being entirely truthful while doing so. Zibi said even if it was true that service delivery was better in the Western Cape, the DA’s attitude was “a total turn-off” to most of the country’s population.

“There’s an English word for it: arrogance.”

Under its current leadership, the DA was destined to be divisive and racialised, rather than truly nonracial and representative of all South Africans.

Zibi said South Africa needed new leaders who come from communities themselves, who have legitimacy within them and who treat the communities as constituencies, and represent their interests in parliament if elected, and report back to them with diligence.

“We need new leaders who ask the people what they need, rather than tell them what’s good for them. Who use something other than shock tactics even to marshal their own support base.”


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