The expulsion of Dianne Kohler Barnard from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the opposition party of South Africa, has raised questions about intimidation from the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party. Expelling Barnard for something thought to be satire in illustrating the failings of the ANC is inappropriate and incommensurate with the misdemeanor as to induce a sense of shock. In deciding on the personally ruinous sentence, the DA thought political expediency was more important than the personal interest of Barnard and the impeccable record of loyalty and hard work. Barnard was found guilty of misconduct for sharing a Facebook post depicting former president PW Botha, after which she apologized wholeheartedly for the deed.
By expelling Barnard, the DA showed it was intimidated by the ANC’s race card; which the latter has always used at the slightest provocation, often without justification. The DA hopes to endear itself to the black vote, especially the undecided constituency, as South Africa approaches the local elections next year. However, the ANC is not willing to play ball, and members of the ruling party have dismissed this sentence as inconsequential, superficial and hypocritical, and a public stunt.
The DA leadership understood the playful nature of that troublesome Facebook post. The DA was aware that upon the death, both Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki praised PW Botha for opening the door to political negotiations in South Africa. However, the leadership considered that the realpolitik, and not the constitutional niceties of mercy, first offense, and remorse, should be the deciding factors. Ironically, Barnard is being expelled for using the wrong example to criticize the ANC.
By dismissing Barnard, the DA was appeasing the ANC, and this could be suicidal for the opposition party. Irrespective of what sanction the DA would have imposed, the ruling party would never be satisfied. The ANC is spending too much time dictating on the internal affairs of another political party. By doing so, the ANC is also showing the shallowness in a dominant society and hypocrisy because ANC top leaders have committed worse offenses than Barnard has.
The expulsion is outrageous and almost laughable and in a typical organization, perpetrators would not be dealt with such harsh sentencing. The DA is bowing down to pressure from the ANC government of South Africa. Gross Misconduct is a dismissible office, and the actions of Barnard were not close to that offense. There is something sinister at play here, perhaps the new DA leader Mmusi Maimane is a Trojan horse.
The ANC ruling party of South Africa is running in crisis mode; the Barnard issue is a non-starter for the ruling party. The ANC has devalued the race card as a formidable weapon. Elections are around the corner and the DA did an excellent job in terminating her membership which could be reinstated on appeal after the elections. The DA is commended for refusing to deal with racism the way the ANC deals with corruption. There are people who think the dismissal was a harsh sentence that does not fit the crime; however, supporters of Barnard should know that ANC voters do not understand satire.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
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