Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille says she will never leave the social media platform. Picture: Armand Hough
Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille says she will never leave the social media platform. Picture: Armand Hough

I will not stop tweeting, says Helen Zille

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Jul 28, 2019

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Cape Town - In the wake of the DA’s decision not to take its former leader Helen Zille to task over her controversial Twitter utterances, the former Western Cape premier says she will never leave the social media platform - despite calls for her to do so.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club this week, an unapologetic Zille reiterated her belief that the right to freedom of speech was one of the most important to fight for.

“The federal executive had prosecuted Helen Zille as a public representative. However, considering that she would cease to be a public representative of the DA, the matter became mute,” said DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi.

This came after she commented on a viral video, posted by a Twitter user, of an American poet ruminating about so-called “white privilege”.

In her response, Zille questioned why the black speaker in the video was speaking English to express her views.

She went on to say that “black privilege is being able to loot a country and steal hundreds of billions and get re-elected” and that “whiteness is a swear word used to stigmatise and marginalise”.

Helen Zille’s tweets on black privilege.

In her address, Zille said people often tell her they miss the “Helen of old” who fought for non-racialism and was an activist journalist, adding that she was still the same person.

“I try to get to the heart of issues on the basis of my values and principles and fight for them and the core values to which I default have not changed. I have begun to understand that in a profound way, (only) the context in which I am working has changed,” she said.

“My core values are of non-racialism, I believe very strongly in constitutionalism and the law. I think the shift to understanding the law and that everyone is equal before the law is perhaps the biggest parallel shift we have had in history.

“I believe in a culture of accountability where every individual is held accountable for the choices and decisions they make and it is a very big challenge, and we are not there.”

She added: “Of all the rights that liberals hold dear is the freedom of speech, almost all human progress was driven by people who said things that were totally unacceptable at the time they were said. The most difficult and most important right to assert, aside from the right to life, is the right of free speech and that is something we hold particularly dear.”

Zille said while she contemplates the big ideas taking place in the rest of the world, she would continue to take part in the bigger conversation by using all her social media platforms, including Twitter.

“Everyone tells me to get off Twitter and I say absolutely not, that it is a very important space, we must engage and own the space and take on people who believe that they alone have the right to capture the space,” she said.

Weekend Argus

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