Tony Leon on Concubinegate

Former DA leader Tony Leon spoke out today on the Concubinegate affair (that’s my name for it, anyway), in which current DA leader and Emperor of the Western Cape, Helen Zille had a pop at Jacob Zuma’s habits of sleeping around. Whatever “sleeping around” actually means. Floyd?

It’s an excellent analysis of the situation, drawing on his years as leader of the opposition and utilising common sense and logic instead of the knee-jerk, personal tactics of his successor.

I think Bill Clinton got it right when, in appointing his first administration in 1992, he announced: “I want a cabinet that looks like America.” The fact that the Western Cape provincial government doesn’t look like SA, or on the face of it is overloaded with testosterone, doesn’t mean it won’t deliver or won’t be vigilant on feminist issues. But it handed a sword to the party’s opponents, who were delighted to plunge it in with vigour. And politics is often more about symbols than substance.

And while Leon is somewhat critical of Zille, he balances it out with the facts which we never really got to hear in her defence – that the ANCYL’s response was at worse, offensive and infantile (which we knew) and at best, somewhat hypocritical, given the make-up of some of their Provincial cabinets across the country.

When I led the opposition, I made a book- ful of mistakes when it came to an overheated response or an incautious one-liner. And I know how a single phrase in a letter or speech can be wrenched from context, or can obliterate the most thorough defence.

Zille’s reference to Zuma’s personal history was factually correct but tactically questionable. It struck a discordant note in the upwelling mood music which flowed from the president’s inauguration and the wave of optimism it generated.

It seems almost strange to be citing a voice of reason in this whole sorry affair, where mud-slinging, slanderous comments have been the order of the day. But it’s a lesson to us all that sometimes it’s worth stepping back from the heat of an argument and actually THINKING before speaking, rather than just throwing some stupid statement out into the public domain.

While I can understand the ANC’s glee at the gift of the all-male Western Cape cabinet – and their further delight at Zille’s foolish response to their jibes – the people I don’t understand are the angered DA voters in the Western Cape.

Zille’s defence has always been that she didn’t have enough experienced women to appoint to her Provincial cabinet, simply because not enough experienced women were on the DA Provincial lists (something which should surely never have been allowed to happen in the first place). But those lists were freely available to the public in the run up to the election, published in all the newspapers and on the internet. Anyone who had bothered to read the lists would have been aware that this situation was going to arise given the DA’s widely (and rather accurately) predicted ~50% performance in the Provincial elections.
Thus, if you voted DA in the Western Cape and now have a problem with the demographics of the Provincial cabinet – well, it’s actually your fault. Just because you didn’t do your homework in the days before April 22nd is no reason to cry foul now.

So please stop moaning and pretending you wished you’d voted ANC. You’d do well to take a leaf out of Tony’s book and THINK before you speak out (or maybe even before you vote in future).
Otherwise, you really do risk making a fool out of yourself. Or is it too late already?

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