DA faces its Ru­bi­con after Zille’s tweets

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

De­trac­tors within the DA of em­bat­tled West­ern Cape Pre­mier He­len Zille are call­ing for her to be re­moved from her po­si­tion, fol­low­ing her tweet this week that not ev­ery­thing about colo­nial­ism was neg­a­tive.

The DA is now fac­ing its Ru­bi­con: it is up to the party to de­cide Zille’s fu­ture.

She faces an in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary process after the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive laid a com­plaint against her on Thurs­day, ask­ing that she be in­ves­ti­gated for hav­ing con­tra­vened the DA’s social me­dia pol­icy or its fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.

On Thurs­day, Zille tweeted: “For those claim­ing the legacy of colo­nial­ism was ONLY neg­a­tive, think of our in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, piped wa­ter etc.”

She fol­lowed that with: “Would we have had a tran­si­tion into spe­cialised health­care and med­i­ca­tion with­out colo­nial in­flu­ence? Just be hon­est, please.”

She then added: “Get­ting on to an aero­plane now and won’t get onto the wi-fi so that I can cut off those who think EVERY as­pect of colo­nial legacy was bad.”

She later apol­o­gised “un­re­servedly for a tweet that may have come across as a de­fence of colo­nial­ism. It was not”.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane was among party of­fi­cials who, in re­sponse to Zille, tweeted: “Let’s make this clear: Colo­nial­ism, like apartheid, was a sys­tem of op­pres­sion and sub­ju­ga­tion. It can never be jus­ti­fied.”

The DA later an­nounced that Maimane had re­ferred Zille to its fed­eral le­gal com­mis­sion for in­ves­ti­ga­tion as her tweets may have vi­o­lated the DA’s social me­dia pol­icy for pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Glyn­nis Breyten­bach, who chairs this com­mis­sion, told City Press yes­ter­day that it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Zille con­tra­vened the social-me­dia pol­icy or the DA’s fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion.

Charges would de­pend on the out­come of the probe. Breyten­bach would not give time frames for the process.

But four DA mem­bers who spoke to City Press re­called how the party dealt with DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who pleaded guilty to mis­con­duct, bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute and not abid­ing by its social-me­dia pol­icy.

Kohler Barnard had shared a Face­book post which said health, ed­u­ca­tion and the po­lice ser­vice were bet­ter dur­ing apartheid. Her DA mem­ber­ship was ter­mi­nated fol­low­ing a dis­ci­plinary process, but was with­drawn on ap­peal.

How­ever, she was stripped of all in­ter­nally elected po­si­tions in the DA and was de­moted from be­ing the party’s spokesper­son on po­lice to its deputy spokesper­son on pub­lic works. Her pun­ish­ment is the ba­sis of the call for Zille’s re­moval.

“A prece­dent was set, and He­len’s can­di­dacy as pre­mier was through an elec­tion by the DA’s elec­toral col­lege,” said one DA mem­ber and Zille de­trac­tor.

An­other said Zille had to go to pro­tect the DA’s im­age as in­ac­tion would prove costly come the 2019 polls.

The DA’s act­ing leader in the West­ern Cape, Bonginkosi Madik­izela, who is also MEC for Hu­man Set­tle­ments in Zille’s pro­vin­cial cabi­net, was coy when asked whether he was ready to take over as pre­mier should Zille be re­moved. “That is a wrong as­sump­tion ... I don’t want to pre-empt a de­ci­sion, but if she is sus­pended, all of us will have an op­por­tu­nity to fill the po­si­tion.”

Madik­izela said he was happy that the mat­ter was with the com­mis­sion, call­ing Zille’s tweet “of­fen­sive”.

He praised DA lead­ers for speak­ing out against Zille, say­ing that would never hap­pen in other po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

CHAOS The two-day Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Na­tional Con­ven­tion – set up to dis­cuss stu­dent calls for free ter­tiary tu­ition – was due to start in Midrand yes­ter­day. How­ever, after nu­mer­ous dis­rup­tions by stu­dents dressed in Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers T-shirts, it was can­celled. Event or­gan­is­ers told ev­ery­one to leave the premises amid stu­dent clashes and chairs be­ing thrown around inside the venue. Min­is­ter of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion and Higher Learn­ing Blade Nz­i­mande was not given an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the con­ven­tion and was es­corted out by se­cu­rity

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