Dear Helen…

Dear Helen

What a rollercoaster ride these past 3 months have been.  After holding you in the highest esteem of all political leaders, to vehemently disagree (and, in some way, agree) with you on such a contentious issue as colonialism has been painful, confusing, and, in many ways, a watershed moment in my personal political development.

See, I agree with you that the vestiges of colonialism can be used to develop the communities that it disadvantaged. But, even in the tiniest of inclinations, to assert that colonialism wasn’t all bad was a gigantic error of judgement.

As someone who was disadvantaged by colonialism, that hurt.

Badly.

You may not remember me, but I’ve had the privilege of having a few private conversations with you, the first being at our final dinner of the DA Young Leaders Program of 2008. In that brief chat, I was totally enthralled by what it took for you to get where you were at that time, and where you are today.

Back then, you were the mayor of Cape Town. The next year, you became the Premier of the Western Cape. What remained constant in these leadership positions was your untiring zeal to better the lives of everyone, through cogent policy positions and effective service delivery.

And it’s been wonderful to watch, as well as to be a benefactor of such leadership. Even today, after all the attention of yesterday, you chair a provincial executive meeting in Knysna and enact a strategy to help the people of the region recover from the devastating fires of last week. Your willingness to be on the ground as quickly as possible shows a level of compassionate, collaborative leadership that is sorely missing from the wider political discourse in our country (The fact that there hasn’t been any coverage of any senior national government officials visiting the area speaks volumes).

And we cannot lose that quality leadership, especially not now. This is why I fully agree that keeping you as Premier is the right thing to do. We need to show the electorate that even when we have vastly different views, we still put the needs of the people of South Africa first.

Moreover, there’s a generation of leaders after you that will do very well if we were half the leader you are. As written in your book, you leave a legacy of fighting for what’s right, speaking truth to power, and helping to better the lives of others. And it would be a travesty if that legacy were not to be continued through others that come after you.

In our most recent conversation on the occasion of a radio interview publicising your book, you mentioned that after your term as Premier ends, you’d like to spend the rest of your time in the party raising up and developing a new generation of activists. I sincerely hope that you will be afforded that opportunity, as our nation will benefit greatly from your expertise and experience.

I would be honoured if I could be one of those activists to sit at your feet and learn from you.

After all, the political transition in this country will happen ‘Not without a fight’. And who else to learn from than someone who’s been fighting, and winning, all her life.

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