No com­ment on Zille un­til af­ter her hear­ing


DA MPLs in the Western Cape are re­main­ing mum about the party’s in­ten­tion to sus­pend the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s for­mer leader Helen Zille as premier, pend­ing the out­come of her dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

This as op­po­si­tion par­ties in the leg­is­la­ture called for Zille to re­sign yes­ter­day. The provin­cial ANC, EFF and UDM have also urged Zille to step down, af­ter the DA’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion to serve Zille with a no­tice of in­ten­tion to sus­pend her from the party’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

Zille has un­til to­mor­row to give rea­sons why her DA mem­ber­ship should not be sus­pended.

DA act­ing leader Bonginkosi Madik­izela said op­po­si­tion par­ties in the Western Cape had noth­ing to of­fer ex­cept “ridicu­lous” state­ments.

“The ANC must first re­move Zuma, who is im­pli­cated on count­less of­fences. We’ve taken ac­tion against Helen Zille, she hasn’t been found guilty yet, so why should we sup­port such a ridicu­lous call?” said Madik­izela.

EFF provin­cial leader Bernard Joseph said: “The DA at last realise that Zille is an un­der­cover racist. Ev­ery­thing that is done in the dark will be ex­posed in the light.

“The EFF is not sur­prised that Zille has been sus­pended from a party that was built on lies, prom­ises and non-de­liv­er­ance to the poor­est of the poor.”

ANC act­ing chair­per­son Khaya Ma­gaxa said: “The ANC re­peats its call for the DA’s dis­graced past leader Helen Zille to im­me­di­ately re­sign as Western Cape premier. She has also hu­mil­i­ated the prov­ince and its peo­ple with her con­tin­u­ous Twit­ter at­tack on peo­ple of colour.”

Zille faces the axe for al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing the DA’s so­cial me­dia pol­icy af­ter in­sin­u­at­ing in a tweet that colo­nial­ism was not all bad.

At the week­end, party leader Mmusi Maimane an­nounced Zille’s sus­pen­sion.

Hours later, the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive said it had writ­ten to Zille to sig­nify its in­ten­tion to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend her from party ac­tiv­i­ties un­til the con­clu­sion of the dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings.

“Zille’s so­cial me­dia com­men­tary and public ut­ter­ances in con­nec­tion with colo­nial­ism un­der­mined our rec­on­cil­i­a­tion project, and there was no ques­tion her orig­i­nal tweets and sub­se­quent jus­ti­fi­ca­tions had dam­aged the party’s stand­ing in the public mind,” Maimane said.

He added that Zille con­tin­ued to damage the party with var­i­ous pieces of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that sought to un­der­mine what the party had tried to achieve.

Ac­cord­ing to Maimane, Zille had de­clined to apol­o­gise to South Africans and the DA for the damage she had done.

Zille fired back, say­ing she had not ac­cepted that the DA had a right to find her guilty and pe­nalise her be­fore the hear­ing even took place.

James Selfe, the chair­per­son of the DA’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive, said Zille still had time to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions. “There is a sep­a­ra­tion of power, so she would be able to con­tinue with her work. The sus­pen­sion would not af­fect her work as premier,” he said.

‘We’ve taken ac­tion against Zille, she hasn’t been found guilty yet’

HELEN Zille has thrown a “kick me out if you dare” chal­lenge to the DA. And some ob­servers be­lieve she has ev­ery right to be con­fi­dent.

In an of­ten stormy po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, she has yet to lose a bat­tle against those in the DA who have tried to take her on.

The list of fel­low party op­po­nents, and in one case, al­most a fel­low party op­po­nent, who she crushed in­cludes Athol Trol­lip, Wilmot James, Lindiwe Maz­ibuko, Mbali Ntuli and Mam­phela Ram­phele.

It has of­ten been said that Zille can make and break you – and this, in fact, is what she is re­ported to have said to the first per­son she groomed for the DA lead­er­ship, Maz­ibuko, who quickly found her­self out in the cold when she tried to be her own per­son.

Zille has al­ways had an enor­mous fol­low­ing among Pro­gres­sive Party-style lib­er­als and blue-coloured peo­ple. And she gets ab­so­lute loy­alty from her provin­cial MECs and MPLs.

In mid-March, just short of two weeks af­ter her colo­nial­ism tweets, she marched into the Western Cape Leg­is­la­ture like a con­quer­ing hero. She re­fused to back down, and again high­lighted what she be­lieved were pos­i­tive as­pects of colo­nial­ism.

For this she re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from her DA col­leagues. What this sug­gests, based on the re­sponse of her col­leagues, is that any at­tempt to sus­pend or ex­pel her could rip the party asun­der.

On Satur­day, this didn’t stop the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive from try­ing – un­til they were re­buffed by her hard-hit­ting fight­back.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane an­nounced that the Western Cape premier, who had done so much to thrust him into the party’s top po­si­tion, had been sus­pended be­cause of her lack of re­pen­tance for her tweets on colo­nial­ism.

Zille had re­fused to apol­o­gise, Maimane said.

But Zille hit back al­most im­me­di­ately, say­ing she had apol­o­gised and that her sus­pen­sion was il­le­gal. It seemed that no one else ex­cept Zille took the trou­ble to read what the party’s con­sti­tu­tion says about a pro­posed sus­pen­sion.

A per­son about to be sus­pended has to be given time to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions – and Zille had not. The re­sult was an em­bar­rass­ing back­track – and she was given 72 hours to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

The prob­lems in the DA have been de­scribed as a se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal test for Maimane and whether he is strong enough to sur­vive a bat­tle with Zille.

Pro­fes­sor Dirk Kotzé, of Unisa’s po­lit­i­cal sci­ence de­part­ment, said this would be a big fight for Maimane. The fact that there has been a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the rules on whether Zille had been sus­pended or not showed there was a fight for the soul of the DA, he said.

“It seems the cat­a­lyst for it was a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion be­tween her and Maimane. I guess there is a puni­tive element in it for him to say you are caus­ing a prob­lem by chal­leng­ing my lead­er­ship and I want to as­sert my au­thor­ity,” Kotzé pointed out.

Maimane was caught be­tween con­trast­ing pres­sures in the party. On the one hand he wants to as­sert his au­thor­ity and on the other he wants to sat­isfy Zille’s sup­port­ers. It was dif­fi­cult to keep all these com­pet­ing in­ter­ests to­gether, Kotzé added.

At some point Maimane would have to de­cide where he stands, he said.

In­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor Sipho Seepe said Maimane would not sur­vive if Zille did not sur­vive. “I think the DA is at a cross­roads, which might be the end of the DA as we know it,” he said. “What I mean by the end of the DA as we know it is that you will have more black peo­ple try­ing to ad­vance their in­ter­ests,” said Seepe.

He said Zille had been in pol­i­tics far longer than Maimane, who joined the party in 2011, and had the po­lit­i­cal stamina to sur­vive the bat­tle.

He said that with the sus­pen­sion and later back­track­ing by the DA, Zille was ex­pos­ing Maimane.

“She was say­ing this is the per­son who stands up in Par­lia­ment and talks about the con­sti­tu­tion, but he does not un­der­stand the con­sti­tu­tion of his own party,” Kotze added.

Dif­fer­ence in in­ter­pre­ta­tion of party rules on her sus­pen­sion

FIGHT­ING BACK: Helen Zille is chal­leng­ing Mmusi Maimane.

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