Johannesburg - Western Cape premier Helen Zille on Friday defended her tweet on President Jacob Zuma announcing the election date after the presidency slammed her for “leaking confidential information”.
“This morning’s statement by the Presidency in response to my tweet is a complete over-reaction. I have said absolutely nothing substantive about the content of the president's announcement today,” she said.
“Indeed I thought my tweet would assist the president's express declared purpose of making the announcement today - to maximise registrations on the final registration weekend tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday.”
Zille said all she did was say there would be an announcement on Friday but did not reveal the election date.
Zille said on Twitter: “Election date due to be announced today. This weekend is your last chance to REGISTER to vote. Take charge and bring change and jobs to SA!”
Zuma and the Independent Electoral Commission met premiers on Thursday to brief them on the election date.
The Presidency on Friday said it took serious exception to Zille “leaking confidential information”.
Spokesman Mac Maharaj said Zille leaked information that arose during a confidential consultation between Zuma, premiers and the IEC to discuss election preparations.
“Ms Zille, as premier, sits in meetings discussing serious matters of state. She should thus respect confidentiality and not abuse the privilege and trust accorded to her by virtue of her status,” Maharaj said.
“The president hosted the meeting of the IEC and premiers yesterday (Thursday) at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, on the sidelines of the Cabinet Lekgotla.”
Maharaj did not specify what Zille leaked.
The Presidency said on Twitter: “President Zuma’s programme and activities are communicated by Mac Maharaj. There is no parallel spokesperson in the Western Cape!”
Zille said Zuma and the IEC had said it was important for him to announce the date for the elections on Friday before the final registration weekend.
She said she completely agreed with the motivation and understood that maximum awareness had to be created ahead of the registration weekend.
“I was actually helping this purpose - without revealing any of the substantive information that I have... But merely saying the President will announce, without giving any detail, can hardly be seen as leaking confidential information,” Zille said.
“The Presidency should stop concentrating on side issues, and focus on the big issues such as corruption, economic decline and unemployment.”
Later on Friday the Presidency announced the date of the national elections as May 7.