opposition Democratic Alliance is considering taking legal action after its
leader Helen Zille came under attack for remarks against new President Jacob
Zuma. Zille accused Zuma of being a womanizer with deeply held sexist views who
is putting his three wives at risk by having unprotected sex with a lady who
was HIV positive. The remark is generating controversy, with former guerrilla
fighters loyal to President Zuma threatening to make ungovernable the Western
Cape, the only region the opposition party controls. The COSATU trade union federation is also
threatening strike action.
Paul Doughey is the spokesman for the opposition
Democratic Alliance. He told VOA that the party stands firm behind the leader's
controversial remark about the new president.
many respects the comments that have come from the tripartite alliance,
including the ANC and its alliance partners reflect yet again an unacceptance
to accept the outcome of the elections that were held recently where the DA won
an outright majority in the Western Cape," Doughey said.
He said the opposition
leader's remark is factual.
"The statements that Ms.
Zille made regarding Mr. Zuma are undeniably true. During a court case heard a
couple of years ago Mr. Zuma made it very clear that he had unprotected sex
with a woman knowingly who had HIV/AIDS and therefore put at risk four of his
wives. This statement is categorically true and undeniable," he said.
Doughey described as double
standards reaction to the opposition leader's statement from supporters of the
"The reaction of the
alliance partners to the statement reveals more about themselves than it does
anything that Ms. Zille said. In the context of their pointing out that there
is a large degree of hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing the DA stance on
things like gender, the ANC pays lips service to change in the lives of women
in South Africa and undermines fundamental women's rights and freedoms,"
He said the reaction from
supporters of the president infringes on the tenets of South Africa's
"This is fundamentally an
insult to the democratic process… in the 2006 local government elections the
ANC tried every trick in the book in at least 12 occasions to try and unseat
the DA-led coalition government because
they simply can't face reality that an opposition party can govern in South
Africa," he said.
Doughey said the verbal
attacks the opposition leader has come under due to her statements are
"And the statements that
have been made by a number of institutions including the ANC Youth League are
not only defamatory but in fact illegal. And any course to make the Western
Cape ungovernable reflects not only a lack of respect for democratic due
process, but also for the rule of law," Doughey said.
He described as immature
statements from the ANC Youth League which has threatened militant action
against the opposition leader if she failed to desist from making what the
group described as disgusting remarks about President Zuma.
"The kind of language that
they have used is extraordinarily gross. Insults that they have thrown at Ms.
Helen Zille are so beyond description and it represents an immaturity in our
political discourse. And it shows that people are intolerant to the opposition
views," he said.
Doughey said the opposition
DA party would not hesitate in taking the matter to court over insults on the
personality of Ms. Zille.
"The language that is being
used, the intemperate language the extraordinary insults that are being used
has been turned at the personal character of Helen Zille are beyond the pale
and we would be taking legal action as these statements are… extremely
insulting," Doughey said.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) sharply
condemned Zille's remarks which the party claims showed she was out of touch
with the country's mood. The remarks come after new President Zuma made
conciliatory gestures to work with the opposition regarding deep divisions in
Some political observers believe it is unclear if the row
between Zille supporters and Zuma allies would dampen the new president's
initial enthusiasm to reach out to opposition parties, in sharp contrast to his
predecessor Thabo Mbeki, who enjoyed a frosty and at times hostile relationship
with the opposition.
The ruling party's military wing under apartheid,
described Zille's comments as racist. They have
reportedly declared war on Zille if she does not retract her statement against
President Jacob Zuma. Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 and also beat
corruption charges when prosecutors dropped the case after eight years of
Zille wrote the letter in response to criticism that she
was sexist after unveiling a male-dominated cabinet to serve in the Western
Cape, where she is premier.