GHALEB CACHALIA: Sorry, Yonela Diko, but you’re wrong about the DA’s demise
Not content with adding fuel to racial fires in KwaZulu-Natal on a spurious understanding of history, columnist Yonela Diko now appears to be hellbent on employing the same disingenuous arguments and dubious agenda to try discredit the DA.
Instead of focusing introspectively on his own party which is riven by factional fighting over the rights to the spoils of state capture - a time-honoured tradition in the ANC, predating Jacob Zuma - Diko sets his sights on the “impending death of the Democratic Alliance,” which he characterises as “an inside job” – the work of Diko’s arch demon, Helen Zille, whom he describes in a vituperative display of bile as “an undisciplined slob and crude, hellbent on bringing the party to its knees, if it’s the last thing she does”.
He charges Zille with “offending every black South African, if not for being ungrateful to the colonial legacy that gave them sewerage pipes and indoor plumbing, then for being buffoons who live on white minority tax while voting against the white party”.
Clearly, the nuance of paradox and the uncomfortable fact that the DA is the most diverse party in the country escapes Diko’s understanding as he vents his spleen against colonising whites and those blacks “who wanted to go along and get along, who craved white acknowledgement and acceptance (who) gave colonialism and apartheid life”.
Diko has written disparagingly in the past about blacks who vote for the DA – the one’s “you can spot right away, by the way they talk, the people they sit with in the cafeteria. When pressed, they will sputter and explain that they refuse to be categorized. They aren’t defined by the colour of their skin, they will tell you: they are individuals”. These are the people, who in line with the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT), which Diko subscribes to and fuses with unadulterated bile, as owing to their ‘material determinism’ and ‘interest convergence,’ (which form an essential part of CRT) to serve the interests of dominant white groups through the very advances they make.
He identifies former DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, as one of these people, who redeemed himself by “finally (having) amassed enough courage” to say, “as a black South African whose family lived through colonial and apartheid oppression,” has “nothing good to say about those evil systems’ and states “in clear and unambiguous terms, there is no place for racists, homophobes and sexists in the party I lead”. It was the expression of these words that Diko attributes “the death of Maimane and the beginning of the end for the Democratic Alliance” accompanied by a move (ostensibly championed by Zille) to the “illiberal right”.
There’s no factual consideration here of the train of events that led to Maimane’s choice to leave the DA, after he found himself in the crosshairs of criticism by the very panel he instituted and whose terms of reference he wrote.
No credence given to Zille – whom Maimane’s remarks were aimed at, and whose courageous contribution during apartheid as a journalist exposed the government’s murder of Steve Biko and who went on to grew the DA beyond its narrow base of some 16% to over 22% in 2014 – democratically cementing the unity of the party’s diversity then and again after her election as federal chairperson.
No recognition of the fact that John Moodey, erstwhile leader of the DA in Gauteng left the party in some unseemly haste after the surfacing of his initiation and complicity in a scurrilous campaign to entice and blackmail young gay DA members to falsely accuse a senior member of the party (whom Moodey described as “a zero on my contract”) in a sex-for-favours fabrication. Instead, Diko simply trots out Moodey’s tired and predictable mantra that “he didn’t feel comfortable in a party that was veering off centre” as a smokescreen to obfuscate the charges Moodey faced internally.
In short there is no recognition of the DA’s commitment to responsible redress, to clear non-racialism and to the furtherance of a social justice economy based on avowedly social market principles.
As a black member of the DA – though Diko would balk at describing me as such, given his racial bias – I have not come across a single member of the party of any rank or race, who would not describe apartheid as an evil system and colonialism as an extractive system that skewed the development of subject nations and instituted tiers of differentiation based on race and exploitation.
This willful distortion by Diko and vilification of Zille, whose comments were hardly in support of either system, is plain muckraking. But that’s what race baiters and proponents of CRT do – they seek to cancel and bury anything that contests their simple reductionism of everything to race regardless of reality with a distinct inability to discern nuance or paradox.
Not content with a spurious portrayal of the DA as having moved to “illiberal right”, Diko then attempts to tie this ostensible move to a “white move to the illiberal right, evident in almost all parts of the world... because of changing demographics and an inevitable loss of cultural dominance”.
Before he makes such incredulous comparisons, Diko would do well to consider the signs of global adjustment evinced by the publication of long essays by both The Atlantic and the New Yorker that push back against elements of woke authoritarianism and CRT.
And while he is at it, he might consider an article in The Weekly Dish by Andrew Sullivan that explores emerging cracks in the woke elite and the small signs of hope for liberal society. Sullivan points to The Economist’s current leader article in favour of liberalism against the Successor Ideology and CRT which it describes as “a belief that any disparities between racial groups are evidence of structural racism; the norms of free speech, individualism and universalism which pretend to be progressive but are really camouflage for this discrimination; and that injustice will persist until systems of language and privilege are dismantled”.
Even the New York Times appears to be moving in this direction with the publication of articles by cancelled academics and prominent libertarians. Sullivan also highlights The New York Times Review of Books which also published recently “a nuanced review of a book about trans ideology buy Jesse Singal…in an attempt to air actual debate about some of the difficult questions raised by the total replacement of sex and biology with gender and social constructionism”.
Notwithstanding these shifts, Diko then embarks on a remarkable leap in logic in a last-ditch attempt to bury the opposition. “All this ideological confusion has alienated the black majority of the party which was not long ago attracted by the neoliberal tropes of clean governance, rule of law and equal opportunity. This was possible because the governing party seemed to represent corruption, lack of respect for the rule of law and patronage. Although things are not perfect, at least at the very top, the ANC has turned the corner. This has left the DA without a persuasive message,” he says.
“Pull the other one phuleese,” as my daughters might say. The only corner the ANC has turned has led to a rock and a hard place between the Scylla of factionalism and the Charybdis of continued accommodation of corrupt individuals. I think the electorate gets this as the local election results on 1 November will no doubt attest, even if Diko doesn’t – there are none so blind as those who refuse to acknowledge facts and instead embark on a convoluted flight of fancy.
Ghaleb Cachalia is a Democratic Alliance MP and shadow minister of public enterprises. Follow him on Twitter: @GhalebCachalia