DENIAL: Helen Zille
Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille has - this time, in court papers - defended her infamous colonialism tweets after she launched a bid to have Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report set aside.

“My tweets did not demean, degrade or marginalise any person’s intrinsic worth as a human being, their humanity or dignity.

“To the contrary, the tweets inspired a frank and open debate: this act of public dialogue and debate is itself constructive of human dignity and moral agency,” Zille said in her affidavit.

Earlier this year, Mkhwebane found that Zille’s tweet constituted an imminent threat of violence, and thereby violated Section 16(2)(b) of the constitution.

The section says freedom of expression is protected in South Africa, unless it includes propaganda for war, a threat of violence or incites hatred for a group of people who would provoke harm.

The former DA leader has approached the South Gauteng High Court and is seeking to interdict Mkhwebane’s remedial action from being implemented.

Zille has also applied to the court for the findings and remedial action to be reviewed and set aside.

ACCUSER: Busisiwe Mkhwebane

In 2017, while on an international trip in Singapore, Zille tweeted: “What a revelation Singapore has been. I can see why it prospers.

“People understand the past but work in the present and plan for the future.”

In a follow-up tweet, she said: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

Zille acknowledges that her views on colonialism caused offence to many.

The DA leadership forced her to apologise after the party determined that she had breached its social media rules. She was also suspended from party activities.

“The evidence is that my tweets provoked a robust, passionate and healthy debate about the legacy of colonialism in South Africa. Simply put, there is no evidence that my tweets provoked violence or the threat of violence. They provoked emotive debate. That is not unlawful.

“On the contrary, it lies at the heart of the right to freedom of expression,” Zille said in her papers.

Khaya Magaxa, ANC MPL and opposition leader, said since Mkhwebane delivered her report no action had been taken.

Magaxa said after Zille’s “hurtful tweets about the so-called positive yields by the legacy of apartheid colonialism”, Mkhwebane had instructed legislature speaker Sharna Fernandez to table the report in the provincial legislature in order for the legislature to hold her to account - but this had not been done.

In a letter to Fernandez, Magaxa questioned why Fernandez had not consulted with the legislature on this “important report”. “Why is it withheld from the legislature in defiance of the public protector’s instruction to you?” he asked.

There was no reply.

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Cape Argus