Helen Zille and Zwakele Mncwango File picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/Indepedent Media
Helen Zille and Zwakele Mncwango File picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/Indepedent Media

DA stalwart up in arms over Zille's 'colonialism' tweet

By LUNGANI ZUNGU Time of article published Mar 19, 2017

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Durban – DA provincial leader in KwaZulu-Natal Zwakele Mncwango will be discussing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s post which praised colonialism, around a dinner table on Sunday night with the party’s leader Mmusi Maimane.

Initially, it was not on the “menu” but the “sour” tweet which attracted widespread criticism against Zille, former party leader, will be added to the list when the two leaders meet.

Maimane is in the province as part of his #Change19 tour in a bid to garner support for the 2019 general elections.

On Monday he will be doing a door to door campaign in Pietermaritzburg.

Mncwango, who openly criticised DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard after she shared a Facebook post on former president PW Botha, has again expressed his rage at Zille’s post.

“We were affected by colonialism and we are still affected by it.

“When you look at the gap between races it tells you that a black person is still behind. We are trying to work hard to achieve the values of freedom and fairness.”

Mncwango said Zille’s utterances thwarted the strides the country was making in uniting the citizens.

Mncwango, who is known for tackling the race issue head-on even if it came from his own party members, said Zille must go through an internal disciplinary hearing because she had breached the party’s social media policy.

Zille tweeted, “for those claiming that legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

She later apologised “unreservedly” for the tweet.

Mncwango said black people were used as “cheap labour” in building the infrastructure that Zille bragged about in her tweet.

“The same black people were the ones removed out of their land.

“You can’t then say that colonialism improved the lives of the people,” said Mncwango.

Zille, who is not new to controversy as she previously came under fire for referring to Eastern Cape pupils who flocked to the Western Cape for a better education as refugees.

The party has summoned Zille to the Federal Legal Committee, which is chaired by former national prosecutor turned politician Glynnis Breytenbach.

This is the same committee that presided over the disciplinary hearing of Kohler-Barnard. Some believe that the sanctions that were meted out to Kohler-Barnard at the time were a slap on the wrist.

Initially, she was fired but that decision was reversed in December 2015.

She was stripped of some positions, including being the party’s spokeswoman on police, but Kohler-Barnard retained her seat as an MP and was appointed as the DA’s deputy spokesperson on public works, a post she currently holds.

She was also ordered to pay a fine of R20 000 to an NGO.

She complied.

While Zille was set to appear before the disciplinary committee, some party insiders have expressed concerns, saying she will not be handed an appropriate sentence even though she contravened the party’s social media policy, which is taken as a serious offence in the party.

Like Kohler-Barnard, Zille was perceived to be linked to the faction within the DA, according to sources, that was running the show.

“It’s a formality. Nothing is going to happen to her. No one can fire Zille. They will ignore the fact that her tweet has brought the organisation into disrepute and has dented the image of the organisation,” said an insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mncwango conceded that Zille’s tweet damaged the DA.

“Such statements reversed our gains especially people like us who are black leaders. Because we have to engage our constituency and make them believe what the DA stands for.”

Despite his outrage at the tweet, Mncwango said: “It was not all lost, because this is an individual not the party.

“And this was her views not the party’s but we believe these kind of statements take us backwards.”

And while he praised the DA for hauling anyone, regardless of their position, before the disciplinary committee, Mncwango cautioned party members to tread carefully on social media.

“The issue is how do we move forward and repair the damage that has been done.

“So yes we will discuss this issue although(today) it was not part of our agenda with Maimane,” said Mncwango.

Sunday Tribune

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