Premier Helen Zille  Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Premier Helen Zille Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Embattled Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s colonialism tweets belong to members of the disbanded National Party (NP), and she is an embarrassment, says ANC acting provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa.

This followed a scathing report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who found Zille to have violated the Constitution and the integrity of her office.

Magaxa had lodged a complaint with Mkwebane’s office against Zille, charging that “she celebrated the oppression, exploitation, racism and poverty which are the direct results of the legacy of colonialism”.

Mkhwebane instructed the provincial Speaker to, within 30 days, table the report before the legislature for it to take appropriate action to hold Zille accountable.

“Although the tweet could have been made in the context of the premier’s right to freedom of expression, as provided in section 16 of the Constitution, and in good faith, it was, however, offensive and insensitive to a section of the South African population, which regarded it as reopening a lot of pain and suffering to the victims of apartheid and colonialism, particularly considering the position of influence she holds,” Mkhwebane found.

On her arrival from Singapore last year, where Zille had been on an official visit, she charged that South Africa had much to learn from the repressive city-state.

While waiting to board a plane to Cape Town, Zille had tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc.”

A few minutes later, she tweeted again: “Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence? Just be honest, please.”

The EFF had labelled Zille a “cold-hearted racist”.

Maxaga said colonialism in the Western Cape had particularly destroyed the existence of Khoisan people and the lives of the black majority in the country.

“If one refers to any development that happened through colonialism in the Western Cape, it happened though slave labour.

‘‘Therefore if one cannot appreciate that destruction of humankind, there is something wrong with you.

‘‘If I was her, seriously married to those kind of beliefs, I would rather resign, because those sentiments belong in the past.

‘‘We will expect those kinds of sentiments emerging from white sections belongings to the National Party. Therefore to me she is an embarrassment. I will rather resign” Maxaga said.

In his complaint to the public protector, Magaxa alleged Zille had, among others, undermined South Africans with her personal beliefs on colonialism.

Provincial Speaker Sharna Fernandez said she could not respond to requests for comment yesterday as her office had not yet received Mkhwebane’s report.

Zille’s spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, said: “The premier has not received the actual report outlining the reasons for this finding.

‘‘However, from what has been announced on television, the premier is likely to take this report on judicial review.

‘‘The premier has already advised the public protector that, in her view, such a finding would be unlawful and irrational.”

However, Magaxa said: “She must use her own money when doing so. Zille was exercising her own personal views not that of the government or the DA, thus she must take personal responsibility.

“If it happens that she uses the money of the state, we will take this matter further. She must use her own funds,” said Magaxa.

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