Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille has joined the South African Institute of Race Relations as a senior policy fellow, the IRR said. File picture: ANA/Armand Hough

Johannesburg - Former Western Cape premier and leader of the Democratic Alliance Helen Zille has joined the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) as a senior policy fellow, the IRR said on Sunday.

"The joining of forces between Ms Zille and the IRR brings together two of the loudest reformist voices in the country," the IRR said in a statement.

In the statement Zille said, "We must defeat the racial nationalist and neo-Marxist ideas that threaten the future of every South African. The IRR provides a platform for all concerned South Africans to contribute to this battle of ideas by doing three things, namely uniting the middle; protecting property rights; and promoting individual freedoms."

The IRR said she would be adding her considerable influence to IRR efforts to build support to stop expropriation without compensation (EWC); protect savings and pensions; halt efforts to destroy the South African healthcare sector through NHI; and adopt empowerment policies based on actual disadvantage rather than race. 

Zille had a long record in South African public life. She began her career in journalism, at the Rand Daily Mail, where she helped to uncover the circumstances of the death in detention of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko in 1977.

She entered formal party politics in 1999 when she was elected to the Western Cape provincial parliament. She subsequently served as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, and as mayor of Cape Town, before being elected premier of the Western Cape in 2009.

She became leader of the DA in 2007, serving until 2015, when she stepped down. She led the party to winning its highest number of votes in a national election in 2014, in which it won 22.2 percent of the national vote and nearly 60 percent of the vote in the Western Cape.

She was educated at St Mary’s School in Waverley, Johannesburg, and at the University of the Witwatersrand, the IRR statement said.

African News Agency (ANA)