Premier Helen Zille File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - A war of words has been brewing on Twitter, with outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille once again at the centre of the social media storm.

The latest online controversy featuring the former DA leader comes just a week after it was announced that the party had retained the Western Cape in the hotly contested general elections.

Zille - known for her controversial and often divisive views on social media - on Friday unleashed a flurry of tweets that earned the ire of Twitter users for alleged race baiting and racist undertones.

The online discourse kicked off after an emboldened Zille commented on a viral video posted by a Twitter user of an American poet ruminating about so-called “white privilege”.

Responding to the tweet, Zille questioned why the black speaker in the video was speaking English to express her views, which soon became the catalyst for a tirade of comments by the politician on #BlackPrivilege.

Zille alleged 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”.

While her comments angered thousands of social media commentators, it was former public protector Thuli Madonsela who asked Zille to withdraw and apologise for her divisive and controversial commentary.

“Dear @helenzille white privilege is universal and comes with the premium the world places on whiteness plus accumulated historical advantages. To equate it with black privilege is myopic. To brand blacks as looters and political pretenders is wrong. Please withdraw and apologise,” Madonsela wrote.

Zille responded: 

“Dear @ThuliMadonsela The era to which you refer has ended. 2day “whiteness” is a swear-word used to stigmatise and marginalise. I thought our struggle was to judge each INDIVIDUAL on their merits irrespective of race. I will not replace one form of racism with another. Sorry.”

Zille went on to say that she was “sick to death, repeat SICK TO DEATH, of racial hypocrisy and double standards,” in the country, adding that she would no longer support double standards.

“People can run around all day making the most outrageous racial generalisations about a tiny minority in this country by stigmatising “whiteness”, and the sky falls in when you give them a taste of their own medicine,” she tweeted.

However, Twitter was having none of it.

Actor, Hlomla Dandala, weighed in on the controversy, calling Zille out on her alleged racism.

“How DARE * live a life of racial advantage & have the gall to be offended by a ppl who aren’t seeking justice/compensation, just acknowledgement & redress

“Let’s ventilate ur logic here: By virtue of being black, one is more likely to be a thief. By virtue of being black one is more likely to be re-elected. So this is a politics thing. It’s race thing.”

A defiant Zille later tweeted that while she would not apologise for rejecting racism and double standards, she would reflect long and hard about how to keep exposing them.

The DA declined to comment on the issue.

Weekend Argus