The ANC and EFF have reacted with anger saying Zille’s true colours were showing again.
At the weekend, Zille had joined in a Twitter conversation which took off from a tweet by Mzwanele Manyi, former owner of The New Age and ANN7, insinuating that the thought processes behind broad-based black economic empowerment and employment equity were similar to that of apartheid.
A Twitter user had made a statement that while Manyi was a beneficiary of BBBEE, “he behaved much like Helen Zille who said colonialism wasn't bad”.
Zille then joined in and tweeted: “I didn't say anything like that. Colonnialism (sic) was terrible. But its legacy is not only negative. If you can't tell the difference between those two statements, I feel sorry for you.”
Zille had been publicly called out at least twice in the past for tweeting that colonialism was “not all bad”.
In March 2017, on her arrival in Singapore, where she had been on an official visit, Zille charged that South Africa had much to learn.
She tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc. Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence? Just be honest, please.”
Flanked by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Zille apologised unreservedly during a press briefing.
The DA had announced that she would be stepping down from her party positions, but would remain as premier of the Western Cape until her term ends.
Following that, Zille had responded to a Twitter user who had reacted to Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s picture comparing US President Donald Trump to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The picture listed what Trump had seemingly achieved alongside Ramaphosa’s “failures”.
“Do you genuinely believe the legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative? Then let's scrap the constitution, including concepts such as the separation of powers. Let's scrap formal education institutions, the English language, etc, etc,” Zille had said.
On Sunday, her office did not respond to requests for comment regarding the latest tweet, while DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi would only say: “We are focused on the important task of campaigning to realise our vision of building one South Africa for all.”
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said the wounds of many South Africans had not yet healed from colonialism.
“They (colonialists) were not invited in: they came and imposed their will. There was nothing kind about this. Our country, like so many others, has not fully recovered from the wounds of colonialism.”
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said Zille’s latest tweet showed she did not mean her apology.
“Colonialism hurt black people. She did not mean her apology, she made those statements again.”