Helen Zille under fire as GNU tensions escalate

The bickering in the Government of National Unity (GNU) has already started, even before Cabinet posts have been allocated, and it’s getting heated.

The ANC and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) have lambasted the “narcissistic” and “opportunistic” Democratic Alliance (DA) federal chair Helen Zille for allegedly getting ahead of herself in the debate.

PA accused Zille of ‘seeking attention’

The PA accused Zille of “seeking attention” and being a narcissist who believed she is always right. The party, led by Gayton McKenzie, vowed it would not retreat from the GNU.

The ANC’s new chief whip, Mdumiseni Ntuli, said the DA was opportunistic in trying to imagine itself as the primary leader of the GNU because only the ANC was the leader.

Zille claimed the ANC could not include other parties in the GNU without consulting the DA.

She claimed the ANC, DA and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), as the founding parties, should first agree on who should be admitted, as stated in the statement of intent signed by the three parties last Friday.

Zille plans to challenge ANC in court

She plans to challenge the ANC in court for breaching the agreement.

But some regarded the statement of intent as a precursor to the actual establishment of the government, not a GNU agreement.

The PA’s head of strategy, Charles Cilliers, said Zille was “delusional” following her assertion that the ANC was wrong to include the PA in the GNU without consulting the DA first.

“That clause in the statement of intent is referring to the government or when the GNU has been constituted,” he said.

“It will come into effect once President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed the Cabinet and when we all know who is in or out.

“Some of the parties that have been invited by the ANC may not be in the Cabinet, including the PA,” Cilliers said.

“At the moment the GNU is just an idea; it’s the same as a memorandum of understanding.

“As it is, it’s just an agreement to agree, it’s not the GNU final agreement that will bind us all,” Cilliers said.

‘Zille thinks DA is the founder of the GNU’

After having seen the constitution of the Cabinet, the PA may even decide not to join the GNU if it felt the position Ramaphosa offered it in the executive was not good for it.

“I don’t know what Helen is up to,” said Cilliers. “She thinks the DA is the founder of the GNU. She is wrong. Only the ANC is the founder of this. Helen is not the founder.”

Political economy analyst Daniel Silke said if the GNU partners pulled in different directions, that would pose a threat to the whole idea.

“The issue is holding this centrist alliance together, given all of these challenges,” he said.

“If this centrist alliance doesn’t hold, doesn’t perform, if it’s weak, you are looking at a pivot and it could be a dramatic pivot in the opposite direction – and that could be a threat.

Zille’s statement ‘misguided’

Ntuli said Zille’s statement was “misguided”.

He said the DA should stop thinking it was the founder or leader of the GNU as there was no provision in the statement of intent that the ANC must consult before inviting other parties to the GNU.

“The leader and principal leader of the GNU is the ANC. So it is very opportunistic for the DA to say nobody must come in. If you want come in, you must consult all of us. There is no provision like that,” Ntuli told Newzroom Afrika.

The ANC worked on the basis that everybody would act in good faith and consistently.

The DA was abusing the process and now, with the benefit of hindsight, the ANC felt it ought to have put in a condition that none of the signatories should define themselves as the GNU primary members until the GNU itself was established.

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