It’s the end of the DA as we know it [or is it a realisation of the DA as they have always been?]

i don’t tend to write overtly political posts on here. Well, a lot of what i write is political but i mean with regards to specific political parties.

But somehow that has changed during lockdown. 

It started with a post about a story i heard about when a crowd of homeless people were stuck away in a hellhole in a place called Strandfontein on the remote edge of the city in the most awful of conditions.

Then it was this call to action about the story i heard. A letter to the Mayco member responsible for the site [Zahi Badroodien] and Mayor Dan Plato.

i was then given an opportunity to go and visit the site and wrote this followup story about what i had seen, which included photos catching the City in a lie about mattresses that had apparently been delivered a day or two before.

Just the Stories i know

While Strandfontein was happening, there were similar ‘camps’ in Wingfield and a place called Paint City that were set up in a similar way for refugees.

Last night i find about out the story of the man who is thrown naked from his place of residence in Khayelitsha by police and treated with absolute lack of humanity or dignity.

For the past few days i have been assisting my wife and a few others in working against an illegal eviction that is happening to some foreign nationals across the street from us in Diep River. As of now they have managed to stop the building process which was driving them out but there is still intimidation and turning off of electricity and water and i’m sure there are things happening behind closed doors to make sure it happens.

A couple of weeks ago there was the dismantling of property in Hangberg by police. Residents of Arcadia House in Observatory managed to win their case against an illegal eviction the City tried to do. About 30 shacks belonging to residents in Empolweni were demolished by the City. Followed by a show of force with rubber bullets [and possibly some live ammo] a few days later at the same site.

The City of Cape Town eventually responded to more than seven organisations that were calling for Strandfontein to be closed – and a positive outbreak of corona virus in the camp – by dumping a huge number of the former Strandfontein residents under a bridge in Cape Town on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Strandfontein camp

Committed to building one nation with one future underpinned by freedom, fairness, opportunity, and diversity for all.

That is the DA Twitterer bio slogan. They seem to not have enough space to add in the words ‘unless you’re poor or black or homeless or a foreigner’ which seems like it would be a much more accurate slogan. The City of Cape Town has ‘The City that works for you’ as its slogan and seems to also be missing those extra words.

The Truth is that the city works for the wealthy and more often than not that means white people. When townships are busy protesting in the hopes that they can get better sanitation, the City builds a cycling path in Bergvliet [that most of the cyclists don’t use because they prefer to ride on the road].

Another uncomfortable truth is the hypocrisy of the DA. People like John Steenhuisen and Zahid Badroodien are quick to distance themselves from instances like i have mentioned above saying that it is the City of Cape Town doing those things. Yet these same people are quick to claim how well run the City of Cape Town is by the DA come election time. Which one is it? Either you don’t have control or you do? Your fingerprints and guilt are all over every single one of these instances because if you are not directly involved in them [which most of the time seems to be the case] then you are complicit that they are happening in a City and Province headed up by you.

Time for the DA to go the way of the old South African flag

i posted this as my Facebook status earlier today:

i know there are some people who voted DA in the last election. i only want to hear from you here…

In light of the attrocities [so many!] that The City of Cape Town have committed during lockdown against the most vulnerable among us, how are you feeling about your support of the DA and if you still support them please let me know why?

Or is this going to be like post-apartheid and suddenly trying to find someone who voted DA is impossible?

And, to be honest, i was quite surprised by the response. i thought there would be some kind of 50/50 split but after 22 comments every one of them were from people who had voted DA and were convinced they would not do so again. Most of them are feeling conflicted about who they can vote for. i feel like i am in a similar space, because the alternatives are not super appealing. 

The way i saw it before lockdown, the DA regardless of what they do or achieve or change, is very likely to always be seen as a white party and the only way i think they will ever succeed as viable opposition is by rebranding, starting a whole new party, and starting over. DA loses many people’s votes and support simply by their links to the past – and every day Helen Zille tweets, more and more people find reason to jump ship!

But since Lockdown, i have come to realise that it needs to go a whole lot further. The party needs to close its new doors and a new party with new leadership needs to emerge. There are too many people within the leadership of the DA with blood or guilt or injustice on their hands. i can see no way that they can survive the atrocities they have committed or allowed during these past few weeks. They don’t deserve to.

It’s who they are

Many people who are more politically and historically savvy than me though will tell you this is nothing new. The DA have never cared about those on the fringes. And everything that has happened these past few weeks is in line with who they have always been. That may well be true, but as far as i am concerned, these past few weeks have been an eye opener. Along with their continued failure to do anything to control the more hectically out-of-control by-the-day messages that Helen Zille puts out on social media.

So what do we do?

In this past general election, i did the most work i had ever done with regards to research and reading political manifestos and trying to find the party that most represented what i believe and want to see. At the end of the day, i was super impressed with the UDM and voted for them and they got so little of the vote it was frightening. So i am not sure that’s the answer.

But this notion of ‘Vote DA so that we can have a strong opposition’ which has sounded so right to so many people [who also, like me don’t have deep political understanding for the most part] also feels like it is not helpful. Maybe on the national scale where it really is more about percentages and they don’t actually have much significant power to change things. But locally i think we have to vote for the people who are going to do the best work. And whoever that is in Cape Town, i think it is becoming increasingly obvious who it is not!

However, i think a further action which we can do which might have the most actual benefit, is by doing the work when it comes to municipal elections. Putting people who will make a difference in your smaller local space. And this requires a bit of work for you to get to know who is running and maybe even ignore what political party they are from and try and get to the heart of who they are and what they are actually going to seek to do. We have a useless lady in our suburb and so we are seriously considering doing what we can to make sure she is not in charge after the next election.

The Real Difference

At the end of the day, i personally struggle with the idea of my vote counting. In the last election i think the main reason i voted is because i have some idea of how much getting the vote in 1994 meant to so many people who had been denied it for so long. But if you catch me by myself and have an honest conversation with me, i don’t really believe that my one individual vote actually makes much of a difference.

But this is what i DO believe. Looking at that the DA says they are about which is a total and absolute lie:

Committed to building one nation with one future underpinned by freedom, fairness, opportunity, and diversity for all.

i catch myself thinking, ‘Wait, i DO know someone who is that.’ And it is me!

It is also my wife, Valerie. And our friends Keegan and Lindsay Davids, and Siphokazi Jonas and Bronwyn Nell who live with them. It is our friends Mahlatse and Lusanda Mashua and their three girls. It is all of those who work with The Warehouse throughout Cape Town. It is Ashley and Helene Visagie and the crew of BottomUp, who work in schools in the greater grassy park area. It is Kayla-Tess and the crew of The LifeMattersFoundation who work in schools across Cape Town and Heidi Segal and Outliers who work through After School programmes and my friend Megan Furniss who i am holding whiteness conversations with and and and…

The real difference happens on the ground. Starting with individuals and families who are committed to change. Continuing with NGOs and churches and other organisations who really take this stuff seriously. And with communities who commit themselves to being different and bringing change. It happens through non-profits like Common Change where groups of people pool money to help meet the needs of people they care about, through Heartlines who promote togetherness through story-telling, through friends like Robyn Wolfson Vorster on Facebook who highlighted a different NGO every day for the first 60 odd days of lockdown so their stories could be shared and people could connect and send support, through another Facebook friend Mandisi Sindo who turned the KASI RC Shack Theatre in Khayelitsha into a soup kitchen, feeding hundreds of kids during lockdown…

The DA is very clearly NOT the answer and they need to go! And we need to figure out together who becomes the next viable party to vote for who will care for the poor and marginalised who make up the majority of the population of the country and the province. But we need to be doing the work ourselves or joining those who are already doing the work. We need to make our voices heard and refuse to let the City or the DA continue to treat the marginalised so badly. We need to be those who model the kind of province we want to see and be part of. And don’t even get me started on those trying to secede Western Cape from the country – STOPPIT! 

Invest your time and your money and your energy and your connections and your resources and get busy. Join a local Community Action Network if you have not already. Join Cape Town Together on Facebook if you are not already there and find active ways of becoming part of the change.

What else? Share your ideas. Promote your organisations. Let’s mobilise everyone in the province who is wanting to do good and is not so ruled by fear that they will continue to side with those who do harm.

Let’s actually be Committed to building one nation with one future underpinned by freedom, fairness, opportunity, and diversity for all. And not just those who have it in their bio but are so committed to living out the opposite.