THE debate over moving Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria has been re-opened by government, which has appointed a “task team” to investigate the “expensive” practice of commuting between the two cities.
Sapa reports Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe saying: “This task team is looking at the totality of expenses that may require review. Those expenses range from procurement of vehicles right up to this expensive practice of having Parliament in Cape Town when government is in Pretoria.
“Cumulatively there is more wastage. That is why the old Nationalist Party used to spend half the year in Cape Town and half the year in Pretoria.
“Now there is lots of commuting and two houses. Ministers should live in one house. That would be a major, major save.”
Such a move could further damage the electability of the ANC in the Western Cape which will lose jobs and prestige. Add to that the fact that the Western Cape legislature could take over the Parliament buildings and Helen Zille could occupy Jacob Zuma’s old seat.
With this tweet, Helen Zille signalled the end of her party’s annoyance at President Jacob Zuma’s failure to consult properly prior to announcing that he wanted Judge Sandile Ngcobo to head the Constitutional Court. Zuma made the official announcement today.
THE relationship between the ANC and the official opposition DA could be set for a new, more politically mature phase, if the words of DA leader Helen Zille are anything to go by.
It was not long ago that she was running an election campaign with the slogan “Stop Zuma”. And then she publicly attacked Zuma for his sexual behaviour.
But, following a meeting yesterday, Zille appeared unable to summon negative energy.
“If you sit one-on-one with President Jacob Zuma it is hard not to like him. He is a warm and engaging person and I can’t say he isn’t.”
She went further: “A meeting with President Zuma is always friendly. It’s hard even to fight with him when you are disagreeing strongly.”
And she added this: “There were many points on which we differed quite strongly, but I didn’t get the feeling at any point that President Zuma was saying ‘We are not listening to you’.”
Then the cherry on top: “I could run an entire campaign saying stop Zuma and he will meet you and be warm and affable and friendly. Now it’s hard not to like a person like that.”
Zuma has been big enough to accept Zille despite some nasty personal (and out-of-character) attacks.
And Zille has been big enough to change her approach and signal the start of a different kind of politics.
Can this be translated into a more mature national political debate where there is strong disagreement, but an acceptance of the personal bona fides of leaders on both sides? This would be long overdue and would turn the tide on the name calling that has passed for public debate until now.
I see green shoots.
YOU have to admire Jacob Zuma’s political skills – and his ability to charm. How else could he have brought about such a huge change in the attitude of Archbishop Desmond Tutu?
As we reported in The Times today this was Tutu in April ‘Can you imagine what it is like when you are walking in New York and they ask you who will be the next president? … I can’t pretend to be looking forward to having him as my president’
And this was Tutu in an interview with out reporter yesterday: ‘He [Zuma] connects more easily with people than his predecessor. He has a genuine warmth, which puts people at ease. This is important for a leader, being able to keep in touch with his constituency’
Granted, Tutu is the forgiving sort, but it is still quite an incredible about turn. And remember how he changed Helen Zille’s belligerent attitude after a face-to-face encounter at a meeting with premiers?
This from Helen Zille’s online newsletter:
Suppose people voted for a political party that promised them eternal life. Both the party and the voters would be at fault. The party would be wrong in promising something it could not deliver, and the people would be wrong in believing it.
Now suppose people voted for a party that promised to lower taxes by 1%, and as soon as it came to power it raised taxes by 1%. Here the party would be wrong in failing to keep a promise that was possible, and the people would be right in being aggrieved. Read More…
THE first signs of a political thawing – call them green shoots if you must -between the ANC and the DA have begun to emerge.
Today The Times reports how South African MPs stood shoulder to shoulder against racism while on a trip to Nigeria.
Four white MPs, including the DA’s Parliamentary leader, Athol Trollip, were refused permission to board a ferry by the operator.
The ANC’s MPs then refused to board the ferry in solidarity.
The ferry subsequently had its operating licence revoked by the provincial governor.
While one swallow does not signal spring, this small step far away from home suggests that a new climate of tolerance might take root in our new Parliament.
Previous Parliaments have failed to maintain political decorum, turning into forums for vicious heckling and acrimony.
This was particularly so while Tony Leon was leading the opposition. He did not mince his words and nor did those on the benches opposite.
There was a sense that the Parliament was out of touch with the reigning political philosophy of reconciliation, never mind the notion of Ubuntu which all claimed to hold in their hearts.
There were signs after the election that this spirit of unconstructive disengagement would survive as the DA’s Helen Zille attacked President Jacob Zuma’s private life.
But that spat has now receded and there is hope that a fresh spirit of more mature disagreement and, gasps all around – co-operation – might take root.
Trollip strikes a more reconciliatory pose than Leon did. But it will take more than that to unscramble the egg of the last 15 years. It will take political will and that is in short supply.
It’s one thing to post photoshoped pictures of your party leader on the web site, but you need to be smart. Don’t post the same picture flipped horizontally with new clothes photoshopped on directly underneath the “original”. Jeesh.