Premier Helen Zille talks to Heart 104.9FM in her very first extended media engagement as Premier of the Western Cape.
Less than 24 hours after being sworn in, Helen Zille spoke to Heart 104.9FM's Hearty Breakfast Show. As the nation is waiting in anticipation for the announcement of the new cabinet, many challenges are lying ahead along with burning questions on how the new premier will address unresolved matters.
Heart Breakfast host, Lee Downs, spoke to her on a wide range of topics suggested by listeners - ranging from the reasons behind abstaining from the presidential vote, to the significance of the Democratic Alliance winning the province for the first time; particularly with regards to tying up unresolved issues such as those between the IRT and taxi service.
Heart 104.9FM asked her why the DA made the decision to not nominate a presidential candidate:
HZ: “In any democracy it is a convention that after the voters have spoken, opposition parties accept their role in opposition and the parties that won are able to nominate the presidential candidate. That happens in all democracies that I'm aware of. We did put up a presidential candidate once when the ANC had elected someone who had not been elected by the voters. That was done at Polokwane when they recalled president Thabo Mbeki and installed Kgalema Motlanthe - that was not on the will of the voters. But this time, despite everything, Jacob Zuma was the choice of the majority of the voters. We believe that there is a separation between legislature and the judicial arms of government so we will continue our case with JZ through the courts, but in parliament the people have spoken.”
They abstained from the presidential vote as they felt it important that the people's voice is respected in an election. "We can oppose the ANC on every other issue but the fact is that we believe in democracy and we believe in respecting the people's choice,” Zille said.
In terms of the DA having won the province for the first time Zille mentioned that the DA was taking democracy to the next level. “You can only have a democracy if power can change hands peacefully through the ballot box. Not one party winning every single time and we have done that twice in the Western Cape, firstly in Cape Town 2006 and secondly now in the entire province in 2009.” She believes the voters of the Western Cape are the most mature in the country as they have exercised their choice as they did on the 22nd of April.
According to Zille, they have proven to be a party for all the people and according to their lists they are the most diverse party in the country and “will continue to be a government for all the citizens”. She added that the most important thing to understand, is that choice in politics is about alternative policies and philosophies. “It is not about race, we include all races in our party with great pride and that is our commitment.”
As the new premier she is promising to tackle the unresolved issues with great commitment and dedication in consultation and co-operation with the City of Cape Town rather that against them in tying up the loose ends left by the ANC-led legislature i.e. the liquor act.
She admits that the taxi/IRT issue will be one of the more major challenges that she will have to face. “I'm first going to focus on the IRT issue ensuring that it is on the rail and then resolve it with the taxis. We are going to have to make sure that we get a strong lead from National Goverment which will put them on the right track.”
Her top priorities for the province are to deal with drug abuse and crime “which go hand in hand”, education, health and housing - but to deal with them in co-operation with the City. “The first order of business is to align the budgets of the Province with the budgets of the City so that we are tackling the same things in a proper way.”
Environmental issues will still feature highly on her agenda to the point where she is requesting a car that is environmentally friendly and conforms to the safety standards expected for a premier. Now that the province and the city are both under DA leadership, the closer co-operation will aim at delivering better results in housing, health, crime prevention and crime fighting, tourism and environmental issues. All of the issues that were met with delays and red tape previously will change now that the DA is in control of the province and the City.
Running the province and being the leader of the DA will present quite a few challenges but she is confident that she will still be able to do both jobs. Heart 104.9FM listeners have always enjoyed a very personal relationship with Zille, and begged Hearty Breakfast Show host Lee Downs to quiz her on her home life. She says that her Family feels great about her new role, and are hugely supportive - as they always have been. Their importance in her life was demonstrated when she chose to spend time at a celebratory family supper last night instead of a gala dinner.