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A few, perhaps contradictory, thoughts occur to me on why Helen Zille is being charged by her own party. The first, prompted by Rian Malan’s writings, is how deep our societal wounding goes – which would render her tweets ill-advised and insensitive. The second is to ponder on whether, in politics, her kind of academic debate is too nuanced to get any kind of purchase, especially given the new dominant dialogue. Then of course, there’s her demographically-transforming party which, it could be argued, is hyper-sensitive to alienating the badly needed masses – especially when the tide seems to be turning in its favour. Her ‘truths’ are highly inconvenient right now. Here’s a reprise of she said in a provincial legislature snap debate; If she were to state that the worldwide legacy of colonialism was causing an average of 3 287 human deaths daily, people would be outraged if anyone suggested that the benefits might outweigh the costs. “I am talking about the motor car. Today in South Africa, this colonial leftover is not only a means of transport, but the ultimate status symbol.” She also cited religion in relation to colonialism. “To be consistent on the principle, if people believe the price was too high to acknowledge any advantage, then they mustn’t drive a car or visit most houses of religious worship’’. She questioned the “political tsunami” over what she had said about colonialism, when textbooks in schools also talked about the positive effects of the time. “If people believe that South Africans may say things that others may not, then the police must draw up schedules of what can be said by whom, and make sure this is in line with the Constitution’’. Say what you like (and she does), her leaving would impoverish SA politics. – Chris Bateman
By James de Villiers, News24
Cape Town – The DA’s federal committee on Wednesday afternoon formally laid charges against Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for her remarks on colonialism, federal chairperson James Selfe confirmed.
“Helen Zille received her charges this afternoon,” Selfe told News24.
“She is charged with having broadly brought the party into disrepute and damaging the party.”
Zille’s political career hangs in the balance following a series of tweets on March 16, from which the DA quickly distanced itself.
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.”
She later apologised for her comments, saying she never intended to defend colonialism.
Selfe said the party will set a date for a formal hearing following consultation with Zille’s lawyers.
The process might take several months to be completed, Selfe said.
The formal charges against Zille follow an interim report by Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, chairperson of the DA’s federal legal commission, which was completed on March 25.
“Breytenbach’s preliminary investigation found that Helen had a case to answer,” Selfe said.
“The report served in front of the federal executive and the executive accepted the report.”
Zille is a member of the federal executive, but the DA said she would be excused when the report against her is discussed.
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