Newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson Helen Zille has dismissed Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba’s suggestion that she is part of “right-wing elements” trying to take over the DA.
In an interview with eNCA on Sunday, Zille took a swipe at Mashaba, saying unlike him, she has always been part of the “progressives.”
She said, “I have been with the party since the progressives many years ago.”
Zille added, “Herman will also remember that when he was being a very successful businessman, and I take off my hat to him for being an entrepreneur and a highly successful one in days where there were huge obstacles in his path, he will remember that while he was making a fortune in business, I was hiding Umkhonto we Sizwe operatives in my house. So I don’t know what these right-wingers are that he is referring to.”
She was referring to Mashaba’s “Black Like Me” hair products business that he started in the 1980s during apartheid.
Mashaba’s threat to resign
Mashaba had threatened to resign prior to DA’s Federal Council meeting over the weekend if “right-wing elements” took control of the party.
He has often voiced his opposition to “interference” by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) in DA’s internal affairs.
Zille was IRR’s senior policy fellow before announcing her candidature for Federal Council chairperson. She subsequently won the contest on Sunday.
Mashaba called for a press conference for Monday, giving rise to speculation that he would make good on his threat.
Zille’s olive branch to Mashaba
In her interview on Sunday, however, Zille extended an olive branch to the Johannesburg Mayor.
She insisted that as Federal Council chairperson, she has no power to decide DA’s coalitions with other parties.
“I have learnt that he thinks I have the power to terminate his mayoralty in Johannesburg. I don’t have such powers. I don’t decide which coalitions we enter or break, that has nothing to do with me,” Zille said.
She invited Mashaba to “have a chat” with her to iron out his grievances before resigning as Mayor.