South Africa 2014 Elections DA Calls for a Debate

South Africa DA and ANC

As the 2014 elections are approaching, the Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Helen Zille has challenged the president of South Africa Jacob Zuma to a public debate.

Helen Zille sent a letter to Zuma challenging him to a nationally televised presidential debate on the state of the country and the economy. Zille emphasized the need to debate on jobs and said that the unemployment had grown from thirty percent to thirty-four percent under the governance of Zuma since 2009. Zilla pointed out that there was a sharp contrast in the statements issued by Zuma on his administration’s record of job creation and economic control.

Zille said in her letter that a debate to openly discuss these issues, and answer questions from the public directly, is an opportunity to strengthen democracy and public discourse. Zille wrote about the real-time, live audience debate and the cross-examination of how both the DA and ANC party would create the right conditions for economic growth and job creation. She mentioned that live televised debates were widespread across Africa.

Mac Maharaj, Zuma’s spokesperson, did not indicate whether Zuma was aware of the invitation to a live debate and would not comment on this. Last year in August, Helen Zille sent a request for Jacob Zuma to engage in a public debate on the state of South Africa’s economy and he turned down the request.

Conflicting views from the public regarding a debate between Zuma and Zille have raised questions on whether a televised debate would strengthen the votes for either party. In democracy, debates are often part of the openness of the discussion with the promptness to sway undecided voters. In South Africa, there are many parties contesting the election, and if this debate is televised, there will be the possibility of other parties calling for a debate in order to gain votes in the election.

Several public comments have referred to Zuma as not being capable of delivering a public debate on the grounds of his incompetence. Zille, according to public comments, remains a far more intelligent contender and a debate could highlight the alleged ignorance of Zuma.

There is speculation that Zuma will once again decline the offer of a public debate with Zille. Critics claim he would be afraid of addressing the real pressing issues of South Africa, even saying that Zuma would not have the intellect to answer questions directly. His autonomy is being challenged, with opposition saying he is governed by the ANC mandate. The recognition of open and direct questions would not benefit Zuma, as he historically governs with prepared speeches from his advisors.

The public have indicated an interest in a debate between Zuma and Zille, and want the issue of gender disparities discussed, and the rolling poverty levels in South Africa openly debated. A debate between the president and Helen Zilla, according to comments, will create openness of respect and allow the public to raise pressing issues they want answers to.

The public is calling on the other parties, such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, to partake in a debate with Zuma. It is their indication that he will at least be able to answer direct questions from the public. People want the land issues, and redistribution plans to be part of a debate.

There is some growing public sentiment that a debate would be an excellent start of real democracy, but there is a concern that the large number of political parties contesting the 2014 elections in South Africa would cause a conflict of interest, even though historically, dictators and tribalists do not engage in public debates. The debate would recognize the ability of the candidates and how they address different issues that can inform the public of their strengths, weaknesses and intentions.

Followers of the ANC and Zuma have commented that he is too busy to indulge in a debate and does not have time for attention seekers. Zuma, they claim, must be respected with dignity, and it is their assessment that the DA only want to bring apartheid back to South Africa by using black people. Scathing remarks toward the DA and their political ambitions were mentioned, along with accusations that the party failed the people of the country. Zuma, on the other hand was hailed as a hero and a man with a way to take the poverty of South Africans away and bring about a bright future for the people of South Africa.

The public are anxiously waiting for President Zuma to respond to the request of a public debate and have indicated various reasons why they believe that he will once again turn down this challenge.

By Laura Oneale





3 Responses to "South Africa 2014 Elections DA Calls for a Debate"

  1. Brian   April 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    The first two commentators are clearly ANC supporters. That can be seen by their defence of the questionable intellect of Zuma. I think their comments indicate an acceptance that Zille would devastate Zuma in a debate. However, they dont seem to attach any significance to that. In my opinion we need a strong, intellegent leader to take this country forward

  2. steve   March 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

    President Jacob Zuma should never go on public debate with that enemy of progress Helen Zille. where was she when our people were being killed during the hard times for the black people?. voting for Helen zille’s party is preparing our new generation to go back and work as domestic servants again. Zuma should ignore that woman.

  3. Simphiwe Mngadi   March 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I Truly don’t think that it a good idea for Zuma to go on a public debate with the opposing party because it quite clear that the enemy is not intending to resolve the issues of the public but to drag down the reputation of the president and the ruling party. If the debate would be that Helen Zille want Zuma to answer the questions of the public then so be it to her too because they both have issue within the states and communities they govern. I always perceive the DA as the party that was mean’t to be an investigation company like scorpions and others based on the facts that they always spent a lot of time in challenging and digging the president’s and the ANC’s affairs instead of focusing in building the country,fulfilling their promises and improving the lives of all South Africans.

    They are a political party similar to the ANC and there could be possibilities that the DA is not intending to be on a debate to help the public but to gain votes in the elections. One does not have to be an intelligent contender in order to become a leader, It take a lot more then that. The public voted him because they believed he deserves to be our president. Running a country is a very challenging career it takes years for leaders to make it better. Any party can take over but believe me, things would be still the same or even go worse because our leaders are only concern about ruling and power to control their corruptness.

    There is non other party that i perceive to be fit enough to rule then the ANC at the moment. This i say because non of these other parties have fully able to provide reasonable needs for the states and communities they rule over, so if then they failed for such small communities what more can they do for the rest. They have been ruling for many year just as the ANC does but still we don’t seem to observe any unique differences made by those parties in their ruling states and communities. South Africans need to face the facts that the country is in these crisis because we are lazy, corrupted, want power, greedy and very demanding on things we never worked for. Trustworthiness starts with every individuals not Zuma, Zille or any political leaders.

    If Zuma does not do well ask yourself what the hell is 20 000 000 government workers doing in those offices and what is it that you do in your community to improve it lifestyle. He can’t control everything alone and if we South Africans are not being honest with our jobs than no change will be seen. Voting another party would not make any difference but the ship will always sink deeper and deeper until there is nothing visible of it. It is every South Africans country not Zuma’s and if we truly want to see it better then what it is today, that would start with every single person regarded as a South African citizen.

    Finally the debate will be just words against the other but that would not change the facts about all our leaders goals. I don’t think there is a need for the Economic Freedom fighters (EFF) unless this is all about the president Zuma not the debate about the issues facing our country as said by Zille. I still don’t understand what South Africans want, why they want Zuma to debate with his best well known enemies. I also perceive this is kind of indirectly communal or cultural race based. Political parties should be focusing in improving the lives of all South Africans not challenging, debating and fighting against each other. We should be a united nation that always looks to serve the communities across South Africa not insulting and fighting to be rulers.

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