Helen Zille on Patriotic Alliance growth: ‘Gayton is pushing ethnic identity vote’



Published May 30, 2024


Leader of the Democratic Alliance Federal Council, Helen Zille on Thursday said the growth of the Patriotic Alliance (PA) in the results trickling in from the Western Cape represents “a kind of ethnic identity vote”.

Zille, the former premier of the Western Cape, spoke to journalists at the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s national results operations centre in Midrand, Gauteng.

“I think that the Patriotic Alliance’s growth is primarily scooping up all the small parties like GOOD, like the PBI (Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners). They have taken a big chunk from the ANC, and of course, they have taken some of our votes.

“Now that represents a kind of ethnic identity vote, if I can put it that way. That should worry every single South African. If South Africa disintegrates into a whole range of ethnic identity votes, it is going to be very, very difficult to vote for a coherent government,” she said.

Leader of the Democratic Alliance Federal Council, Helen Zille. File Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

“I think our coalitions in the future will be totally ungovernable in that sense. It means people won’t be voting on what parties offer, and they certainly won’t be voting for a track record in governance, but they will be voting for people they can identify with personally without consequence for the longer term results of what they are doing – which is going to make governance almost impossible in our country.”

Zille said PA leader Gayton McKenzie has channelled his efforts towards coloureds exclusively, and that does not augur well for the rainbow nation.

“You will know that Gayton has always said he is not interested in any other vote but the coloured vote. That speaks very strongly to that sense of that identity that he is trying to create for people, as coloured people, rather than as South Africans,” she said.

Patriotic Alliance (PA) president Gayton McKenzie. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Zille said the election on Wednesday was marred by “very poor performance” of the IEC.

“It was the worst that I have seen yet. One doesn’t want that in a maturing democracy. One would think the IEC would get better and better with every election as they iron out the problems faced in the previous elections,” she said.

“That does not seem to be the case, and I think the IEC has a lot of introspection to do around whether it is doing justice to a young democracy.”

Zille, however, believes that despite the challenges, her party would do well in the elections, owing to the DA’s track record in the Western Cape.