Johannesburg – The handling of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille's disciplinary matter regarding her controversial tweets on colonialism has shown how party leader Mmusi Maimane was being undermined by the main opposition party, EFF leader Julius Malema said on Thursday.

Malema said for Maimane, as party leader, to announce Zille's suspension and for party federal executive chairman James Selfe to make a u-turn and state that Zille was not suspended but to appear before a disciplinary hearing, showed that Maimane was not the actual leader of the DA.

"Maimane is a good guy, he has a good heart...but those white people in the DA are giving him a tough time there. They are undermining him...Helen Zille wants to live up to the title of her book 'Not Without a Fight' and collapse the DA because of her ego," Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.

Malema said if Zille felt mistreated by her party should resign and then take the DA to court to clear her name.

"By allowing her party, which she formed and says she loves so much, to deteriorate in her name like this, then she is not different from President Jacob Zuma. She is compromising the 2019 project of removing the ANC [from power]."

Zille was undermining the efforts by opposition parties to take power from the "captured and corrupt [African National Congress] ANC" especially at municipalities and metros, added Malema.

Zille announced she was consulting her lawyers on possible court action against the party after its federal executive suspended her on Wednesday over her colonialism tweets.

Her suspension did not affect her position as Western Cape premier. In her representations to the Fedex, Zille claimed Maimane’s statement at a media briefing in Johannesburg that she was suspended, which was a contravention of the DA’s Constitution, before she was given an opportunity to defend herself, pointed to her being pre-judged and that she would not be given a fair hearing.

She maintained that her tweets, criticised widely for defending colonialism, were misinterpreted.

"My original tweets, in a conversation about lessons from Singapore, were not in any way intended to harm the party, nor in any objective reading of them, could they be interpreted as doing so.

It was the subsequent misinterpretation of my tweets as “defending”, “glorifying” or “justifying” colonialism that caused the damage," she argued.

Malema warned that his party would consider pulling out of coalition agreements with the DA at metros such as Johannesburg, Tshwane and Eastern Cape's Nelson Mandela Bay should the DA not fire Zille as premier.