Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zille: DA must win Western Cape in 2009

-Linda Jaquet-

Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, paid a quick visit to Prince Albert on Saturday, 19 July, to meet with her party’s representatives in the Local Municipal Council. She also held an informal round-table discussion with about 80 residents that afternoon in the Hoërskool Zwartberg hall.

Ms Zille described her first time in Prince Albert as a reconnaissance trip and said that she planned to return. Her visit was one of a series she was making to various parts of South Africa to see how the DA could resolve local problems and she had come to our town to listen, focus on and analyse issues. The DA leader said that she was aware of the problems surrounding service delivery in Prince Albert as a result of the hung Council. In particular, she was intent on finding out why the DA now no longer held the Executive Mayoral position following the resignation of the DA’s Andrew Claassen. At the same time, she stressed that solutions also lay in the hands of the voters and that “in a democracy people get the government they deserve.”

Referring to the elections in 2009, Zille said that the DA stood a good chance of winning a majority in the Western Cape. This would enable the party to implement its policies at provincial level and to resolve the kinds of problems experienced by Prince Alberters. She stressed the importance of a good team of candidates at all levels – national, provincial and local – to represent voters and make sure that voters’ decisions should not be determined by race and colour.

Zille said that her mission was that the DA become a party of all the people of South Africa and a party based on values and a vision of South Africa that would unite people despite their diverse backgrounds and identities. The DA was intent on defending the Constitution and its values at a time when elements within the ANC were “waging a total onslaught” on it. Recent research by Lawrence Schlemmer illustrated that the DA was the most multi-racial party that South Africa had ever had. As a result, the only card left to the opposition to play was thus the race card, she said.

Ms Zille answered a variety of questions from the audience ranging from concerns about the balance of power in the Council, the state of the local ambulance service, transport problems of learners in Leeu-Gamka and the integrity of the political process. “Politics is not for sissies,” she responded to a comment on the verbal attacks on DA councillors in recent Council meetings. One resident told the Friend: “She made everyone feel important and was brave to undertake to find answers and come back to us.” Another resident felt that Zille was an inspiration because she had fought hard for her political principles for 40 years and had no thought of giving up.

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