DA leader Helen Zille has apologised for her education “refugee” tweet, saying the remark was taken out of context, a report has said.
According to the Cape Times, Zille apologised during an appearance on SABC TV on Sunday night after being quizzed by host Vuyo Mvoko about her controversial tweet on Human Rights Day.
She tweeted: “While E Cape education collapsed, WC built 30 schools – 22 new, 8 replacement mainly 4 E Cape edu refugees. 26 MORE new schools coming.”
Her statement was in reference to a protest in Grabouw over overcrowding at a local school.
On Sunday night, Zille said she was “very, very sorry about the impact of those words”.
“Very sorry because it was never meant in that context at all, and it was never said in that way at all.
“What I was trying to show up was what (Basic) Education Minister Angie Motshekga calls a ‘horror story’ of education in much of the Eastern Cape,” said Zille.
Zille told Mvoko that the dysfunctional state of the Eastern Cape education department meant either no textbooks were delivered to schools or, in some cases, the wrong textbooks arrived.
“And that leads to, in one school (Umyezo Wama Apile), up to 600 children, during the course of the first term needing, desperately needing education,” said Zille.
Her purpose was not to brand those children “in any way” but to show up the shortcomings which still existed in the education system.
“All those children are most warmly welcome (in the Western Cape). We do our very, very best. Our frustration has been (that) although we’ve budgeted for a new school (in Grabouw), we’ve not been able to get the land from the national Department of Public Works,” said Zille.
However, the ANC has rejected her apology.
According to the Cape Times, ANC provincial secretary in the Western Cape Songezo Mjongile said the party was not convinced that Zille’s apology was heartfelt.
“She’s had more than one opportunity to apologise, but she refused after we told her that it was insulting to call black people refugees. Her apology is not genuine; it’s a political stunt,” said Mjongile.
Zille’s apology came a week after a DA councillor, Siphumle Yalezo, called on her to explain her comments to the party’s prospective black voters in areas such as Khayelitsha where he lived.
Yalezo welcomed the apology and said it showed Zille’s leadership skills, the Cape Times report said.
“I’m glad that she exposed the Eastern Cape’s failing education system as it’s taking a toll on the country. I like that she showed up the ANC’s lack of leadership. She’s a true leader,” Yalezo was quoted as saying.- IOL