Love her or don't, no one can accuse Mayor Helen Zille of shying away from a fight. Take last Wednesday, when she braved at short notice the first sitting of UCT's Student Assembly for 2006. Here Zille first presented, in her customary articulate manner, a talk on the evolution of student politics in South Africa over the past decades. Then she was swamped - chairperson Nqobizitha Mlilo had to keep a tight rein on things - with questions on such hot potatoes as her own politics, the housing crisis, the country's new elite, or why white students left the meeting as soon as she had finished her talk ("We are a free society," she responded to that one). Race appeared to be the common denominator on the night, though, coming up a couple of times. The audience's response to Zille's answers was mixed - applause from one corner was matched by cries of "eish" from another. Not that that stopped the mayor from being her usual straight-shooting self. "It was a good engagement," summarised Mlilo.
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