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By Paul Herman, News24
Cape Town – Western Cape premier Helen Zille says party leader Mmusi Maimane and the DA’s federal executive “pre-judged” her when arriving at their decision to suspend her from party duties.
The Democratic Alliance’s highest decision-making body decided by “an overwhelming majority” to officially suspend Zille on Wednesday until her disciplinary hearing is concluded.
“The Federal Executive agreed that Ms Zille’s social media commentary and public utterances in connection with colonialism breaks down public trust, stunts South Africa’s reconciliation imperative, and undermines our political project,” DA federal chairperson James Selfe said in a statement.
This following Maimane’s statement on Saturday that Zille had been given 72 hours to submit reasons why she should not be suspended.
In her reasons provided on Tuesday, Zille argued in nine pages that the party had already made its mind up about her suspension before she could provide a rebuttal.
She told News24 on Wednesday that she stands by everything she wrote following the party’s announcement.
“In our leader’s statement on [Saturday], he announced that the Fedex had taken a decision to suspend me. This contradicted the contents of your letter to me, which gave me until 6 June to respond to the notice of Fedex’s intention to suspend me,” she said in her reasons.
“When I pointed this out, the announcement by our leader was amended to say I would be given 72 hours to respond, and that I had NOT in fact been suspended.
DA has suspended me. They have agreed I can share my reasons why I should not have been suspended. Here they are: https://t.co/6h6MqdjrOL
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) June 7, 2017
“It is clear, however, that he has pre-judged and taken a decision to suspend me.”
She said a Sunday Times article on June 4 indicated the Federal Executive had already voted and made a decision on her suspension, before her reasons could be submitted on June 6.
“This initial material failure to comply with due process has serious implications. The leader has, in a public statement, made it clear that he wants me suspended and has already decided to suspend me.”
This put the Fedex in an “impossible position” to make an objective determination, whatever the merits of her arguments against suspension.
“In any event, Fedex has equally compromised itself on this decision.”
She also said she had apologised on two occasions for the tweets, both on Twitter and also in the Western Cape legislature, which Maimane made no reference to in his statement on Saturday.
“Whilst I have been profoundly hurt by the way this matter has been handled by Fedex and the unfounded accusations that are being levelled against me by the leadership currently, which I can only style as a vindictive and personal campaign against me, I have no intention of participating on a DA Fedex or Federal Council under current circumstances.
Political leadership is about tough choices and in my view @MmusiMaimane made the right one on a Helen Zille
— Tony Leon (@TonyLeonSA) June 3, 2017
“As the Leader knows, I have asked him, before every Fedex since this issue arose, whether he would prefer me to absent myself. When he answered in the affirmative, I stayed away in order to make matters easier for him.
“I would be grateful if Fedex and the leadership portray this decision as being what it is: an honest attempt by me, and at my initiative, to save the party any further reputational damage, cost or time wastage.”
She said she hoped an unbiased FedEx re-applied its mind to the situation based on her reasons, to come to a different conclusion.
She was also critical that the FedEx had been convened so soon after she submitted her reasons at 17:00 on Tuesday, questioning the time it could have had to consider her response.
Official: Zille suspended from DA activities
Paul Herman, News24
Cape Town – Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has been suspended from Democratic Alliance activities for tweets she posted in March about colonialism, the party’s Federal Executive said on Wednesday.
The DA’s highest decision making body decided by “an overwhelming majority” to officially suspend Zille until her disciplinary hearing is concluded, DA federal chairperson James Selfe said in a statement.
“The Federal Executive agreed that Ms Zille’s social media commentary and public utterances in connection with colonialism breaks down public trust, stunts South Africa’s reconciliation imperative, and undermines our political project,” Selfe said on Wednesday.
My penny's worth on Zille: Maimane must get rid of her fast or DA will lose once in 60 year opportunity in 2019. Sad for Zille. Best for SA
— Peter Mansfield (@Peterman43) June 3, 2017
“There is no question that Ms Zille’s original tweets and subsequent justifications have damaged our standing in the public mind.
“We live in a fragile democracy which means our public representatives must, at all times, be sensitive to the legitimate anger that people still feel about our past and its legacy.”
Zille had a “special duty” to protect the party’s interests as a former leader, and her statements were at odds with that.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane pursued every avenue to resolve the matter, Selfe said.
“All of his previous good faith attempts have thus far been to no avail. Mr Maimane has asked Ms Zille to issue a full apology for her actions and has sought to find a solution to this matter.
In every effort he made, Zille refused to take the appropriate action necessary to resolve the matter.
“Her ongoing communication on this issue has continued to cause damage to the party.”
Zille will remain in her position as provincial premier. Only the Western Cape legislature can remove her.
“There is a separation between party and state, and this suspension does not affect her government role. This matter deals with her standing within the DA.
“Though the actions of Ms Zille have damaged the DA and brought our party into disrepute, there is no doubt that DA supporters will find strength in our unreserved dedication to the party’s integrity, and the institutions that support that integrity,” the statement finished.
Her disciplinary hearing will begin in earnest on Friday, where she will appear before the party’s disciplinary panel.
Zille had been given 72 hours to submit reasons why she shouldn’t be suspended, which she filed on Tuesday.
News24 understands the Federal Executive met via teleconference on Wednesday to discuss Zille’s reasons, where the decision was reached.
She is facing charges of bringing the party into disrepute following tweets she posted on March 16 that were interpreted as a defense of colonialism.
One of her tweets read, “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”
A second tweet reads, “Getting onto an aeroplane now and won’t get onto the wi-fi so that I can cut off those who think EVERY aspect of colonial legacy was bad.”
Zille could not be reached on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Zille tweeted, “I have apologised. What I have not agreed to do is to plead guilty to charges of misconduct which I have never committed.”
Maimane’s reasons for why the party’s federal executive had decided to suspend her were not the full story, Zille said.
She added that she was prepared to face a full disciplinary hearing, saying that she did not accept that the party had a right to suspend her before the hearings.
1.Sad about Zille but I fully support Maimane. No sensible politician would say apartheid had positives, eg. Sun City & Soweto housing.
— Douglas Gibson (@dhmgibson) June 3, 2017
“I cannot be bullied into resigning or incriminating myself.”
She told News24 on Monday that her party has not been following protocol in her disciplinary proceedings.
“Due process is essential to fairness, and the DA has not followed its own constitution,” she said.
“The right of audi alteram partem [to listen to the other side] is central to the concept of natural justice.”
Others though have felt her subsequent justifications of her initial tweets renders her apology insincere.
The African National Congress in the Western Cape on Sunday called for Zille’s immediate resignation as Western Cape premier.
“She has humiliated the province and its people with her continuous Twitter attack on people of colour,” ANC Western Cape acting chairperson, Khaya Magaxa, said in a statement.
“Her public fightback, playing the race card and even tainting her party as anti-white has dragged her, her party and the Western Cape to a shameful low point,” Magaxa said.
Magaxa said Zille’s comments had not only divided her party but has also divided citizens.
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