Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille. File picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Pretoria - Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille has poured cold water on suggestions that she knows little about cultivating non-racial policies.

Zille was responding to critics following an announcement that she has joined the Institute of Race Relations as a senior research fellow.

“I have been a committed exponent of non-racialism my whole life and have lived that value every day. Now non-racialism is seen to be 'conservative' which is nonsense. It is racial nationalism and identity politics that are retrogressive,” she said.

In its announcement on Sunday, the Institute said joining forces with Zille would bring together two of the loudest reformist voices in the country.

Meanwhile, Zille, who served as the DA leader between 2007 and 2015, cited her reason for joining the IRR as being because the organisation “espouses liberal values and is trying to build the moderate, non-racial middle of South African politics”.

“That is where I believe the majority of South Africans are and it is the space worth building so that everyone has a future in this country,” Zille said.

Apart from delving into policies around expropriation without compensation, Zille said her work would include looking into the rule of law as well as building an inclusive economy.

She maintained it was imperative that every South African contributes to policy formulation or how laws are amended by the government.

“Everyone should feel they can make their voices heard in South Africa. That is why organisations and institutions representing a broad spectrum of opinion are important.”

Others on Twitter welcomed news of the joint venture, maintaining that Zille’s work would contribute immensely and positively to debates on the country’s policies.

Zille, who has often raised the ire of many through her controversial views on Twitter, said she didn’t plan on using the social media platform.

Political Bureau