FORMER party leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille was elected Federal Council chairperson of the DA on October 20, spurring a tumultuous week for the official Opposition, during which leader Mmusi Maimane stepped down and Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba quit his position. Both subsequently left the party.     Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)
FORMER party leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille was elected Federal Council chairperson of the DA on October 20, spurring a tumultuous week for the official Opposition, during which leader Mmusi Maimane stepped down and Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba quit his position. Both subsequently left the party. Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)

Helen Zille to shut down her Twitter account after yet another social media storm

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Feb 17, 2020

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Johannesburg - The DA’s Federal Council Chairperson Helen Zille has abandoned her 1.4 million follower strong Twitter account to start a new private account with select like-minded individuals known to her.  

The former DA leader cited the social media network becoming a hive of distortions as she hung up her Twitter profile on Monday afternoon.  

Zille’s self-inflicted Twitter red card comes as she was caught yet again in a Twitter storm, when she retweeted a controversial tweet from DA MP Galeb Cachalia, which seemed to suggest apartheid was not a crime against humanity. 

Cachilia appeared to have made the comments in defence of the last apartheid president FW De Klerk, who said in a television interview recently, that apartheid was not a crime against humanity. 

Cachalia, the son of anti-apartheid activists Amina and Yusuf Cachalia, had tweeted: “Big words like Genocide, Nazi, Fascist, Anti-Semite and Crimes against Humanity must be used accurately lest they lose their meaning. Apartheid was a pernicious system of social engineering, discrimination and repression.I too indulged in the hyperbole of youth. I now know better”. 

This was retweeted by ZIlle - an act widely seen as endorsing a view on social media.

At President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address last week, De Klerk was targeted by the EFF who disrupted proceedings for over 90 minutes. 

The 'Red Berets' wanted National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to throw De Klerk out of Parliament, despite the institution inviting him. She refused, 

The storm around De Klerk has, however, spilled over into the new week, with the FW De Klerk Foundation apologising for the comments on Monday after widespread condemnation, including from the SA Council of Churches, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and belatedly from the ANC. Speaking on behalf of government during an impromptu presser outside the lawns of Parliament, Zizi Kodwa had maintained that de Klerk was welcome at the SONA. 

Zille has unretweeted Cachalia’s tweet but has not offered an apology or an explanation about why she retweeted the views which were condemned by other senior leaders in the DA, including senior party members including Mbali Ntuli, Zwakele Mncwango, and John Steenhuisen, who on Sunday said ‘of course’ apartheid was a crime against humanity.  

In her Twitter exit thread, Zille said she was leaving because of the poor treatment directed at her grandaughter, bots and mob-lynching tendencies on the site. “A thread 1) After the grotesque treatment of my grand-daughter on Twitter ydy, I am closing this account. I say goodbye to some of my followers, and good riddance to the haters, bots and sock-puppets that constitute such a large percentage of my 1,4-million plus followers. 

“2) Twitter has degenerated into a platform for irrationality and mob-lynching. Everything that can be distorted and twisted for a hate-filled agenda, is used for the purpose of manufacturing outrage and inflicting maximum damage. 

“3) For a long time I have sought to promote Twitter as a platform for rational and civil debate, but it clearly is not possible. It has degenerated into a space of distortion, de-contextualisation, demonization, de-legitimation and double standards. 

“4) Instead of democratising debate, it has severely curtailed freedom of speech and discussion. It emboldens your enemies and silences your friends. It is a space where the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity, as Yeats so aptly put it. 

“5) The only thing I would miss if I went off the platform entirely, are the posts of the rational and interesting people I follow. So I am opening a new, private account called @ZilleTweets. That will be for people interested in rational debate only. 

“6) Of course, I would only know if someone is interested in rational debate if I know them either personally, or through past Twitter interactions. This means I may reject many who are interested in rational debate, but who I do not know. 

“7) I apologise for that. But this evil platform, that can find no effective way of filtering out fake accounts, and dealing with hate speech (as constitutionally defined) offers no alternative. Go well if you mean well. I'm out of here,” said Zille. . IOL

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