Ready to take on DA top brass in sus­pen­sion bat­tle

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LUY­OLO MKEN­TANE AND TE­BOGO MONAMA luy­olo.mken­tane@inl.co.za te­bogo.monama@inl.co.za @luy­olomken­tane

FOR­MER DA leader and Western Cape Pre­mier He­len Zille yes­ter­day stood her ground, say­ing she should not be sus­pended for her in­fa­mous “colo­nial­ism tweets” that have caused ruc­tions in the party.

The Star has es­tab­lished that this morn­ing, the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive (Fedex) – which com­prises mostly pro­vin­cial lead­ers – was to hold a tele­phonic con­fer­ence to dis­cuss her fate.

The meet­ing was ex­pected to pit the sup­port­ers of Zille and those of party leader Mmusi Maimane, who be­lieves he was be­ing un­der­mined by the Western Cape pre­mier, against each other.

Maimane’s fac­tion won the first round of the bat­tle when it was de­cided Zille should be sent a no­tice to ex­plain why she should not be sus­pended. Yes­ter­day, Zille waited un­til the last minute to file her rep­re­sen­ta­tions for prais­ing cer­tain as­pects of colo­nial­ism.

Af­ter 5pm, Zille con­firmed that she had sub­mit­ted her rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the DA’s Fedex.

One of Zille’s close al­lies told The Star that among the ar­gu­ments she would make per­tained to Maimane’s an­nounce­ment at the week­end on her sus­pen­sion.

She was ex­pected to ar­gue that Satur­day’s state­ment proved there was al­ready a pre­de­ter­mined out­come on the mat­ter.

Zille came un­der fire af­ter post­ing a tweet on March 16 stat­ing: “For those claim­ing legacy of colo­nial­ism was ONLY neg­a­tive, think of our in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, piped wa­ter, etc.”

Two hours later, Maimane tweeted: “Let’s make this clear: colo­nial­ism, like apartheid, was a sys­tem of op­pres­sion and sub­ju­ga­tion. It can never be jus­ti­fied.”

He then re­ferred Zille to the DA’s in­de­pen­dent dis­ci­plinary body, the Fed­eral Le­gal Com­mis­sion (FLC), for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

FLC chair­per­son ad­vo­cate Glyn­nis Breyten­bach said the mat­ter was ex­pected to be heard on Fri­day.

It has sharply di­vided opin­ion in the DA, with Maimane’s sup­port­ers want­ing stern ac­tion taken against Zille, who they ac­cuse of un­der­min­ing Maimane’s au­thor­ity in the party. Zille, on the other hand, still en­joys sig­nif­i­cant sup­port.

A DA leader, who did not want to be named as she was not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia, said last night most black lead­ers had voted against Zille. But this was not the case in other prov­inces.

“Dur­ing the Fedex meet­ing, the Western Cape and Lim­popo voted against Zille’s sus­pen­sion.”

Gaut­eng, one of the most in­flu­en­tial prov­inces and the main tar­get for 2019 elec­tions, was ex­pected to lead the charge against Zille.

An­other DA in­sider said many in the Fedex wanted Zille to be ex­pelled. The leader said they be­lieved Zille was un­der­min­ing Maimane in the same way she did with for­mer par­lia­men­tary leader Lindiwe Maz­ibuko.

“Gen­er­ally, many peo­ple don’t want her (Zille) any more. This is the re­peat of what she did to Lindiwe,” he said.

Re­spond­ing to Maimane’s week­end an­nounce­ment, Zille told The Star: “At the week­end I said proper pro­cesses were not fol­lowed. We have a con­sti­tu­tion that stip­u­lates that proper pro­cesses have to be fol­lowed.”

How­ever, she would not say whether she would use that as one of her ar­gu­ments be­fore the FLC.

Maimane told jour­nal­ists on Satur­day that the Fedex had “re­solved that Ms Zille be sus­pended from all party-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties un­til such time as her dis­ci­plinary hear­ing is con­cluded”.

“A no­tice of sus­pen­sion will be served on Ms Zille in this re­gard. This has not been an easy de­ci­sion. But, as the leader, I must do what is right for the party and South Africa”.

Maimane said it had be­come ev­i­dent that he and Zille held fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes about the mis­sion the party needs to ac­com­plish in 2019.

Zille’s colo­nial­ism tweet and her so­cial me­dia commentary “have dam­aged our stand­ing in the pub­lic mind”, Maimane said.

How­ever, a DA leader sym­pa­thetic to Zille, who is privy to de­tails, told The Star yes­ter­day that the “im­pact of that mis­take” that Zille had been sus­pended “will be de­ter­mined by the FLC”.

“I do sus­pect that the per­son who is at the cen­tre of this thing, which is the pre­mier, might ar­gue when she ap­pears be­fore the FLC that proper pro­ce­dures were not fol­lowed when it was first an­nounced that she had been sus­pended, and then given a no­tice of of in­ten­tion to sus­pend her,” the leader said.

DA com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Matthew Ger­st­ner said last night: “The Fedex will make a de­ci­sion af­ter her (Zille) sub­mis­sions have been con­sid­ered. We will then is­sue a me­dia state­ment as and when that hap­pens.”

DA Lim­popo leader Jac­ques Smalle said that al­hough he did not share the same sen­ti­ments as Zille’s tweets, he be­lieved she should get a fair dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dure.

“We are a party that be­lieves in the con­sti­tu­tion and rules and reg­u­la­tions. He­len should be given the chance to de­fend her­self,” Smalle added.

Many don’t want her (Zille) any more. This is a re­peat of what she did to Lindiwe

FACE-OFF: The gloves have come off be­tween DA leader Mmusi Maimane and He­len Zille over her con­tro­ver­sial tweets on colo­nial­ism.

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