DA: Zille’s tweet ‘not the right term’

2012-04-09 00:00

WESTERN Cape Premier Helen Zille has defended her use of the word “refugees” to describe pupils from the Eastern Cape who flock to schools in the Western Cape for a better education.

The DA leader faces a probe by the SA Human Rights Commission after it received two complaints and has reportedly received flak from within her own party. Her comments on Twitter three weeks ago prompted a storm, with accusations of racism and claims she was trying to stigmatise people from the Eastern Cape as foreigners in their own country.

City Press reported yesterday she had been criticised by the DA Youth and eThekwini councillor, Nicole Graham, who complained their leader’s comments hadn’t been well received by their constituencies.

DA Youth chairperson Mbali Ntuli said Zille had been questioned about the tweet in a party meeting.

“We did speak to her about it. We think it might not be the right term for the younger audience.”

Ntuli said the party’s youth structure was happy with Zille’s explanation that she meant to highlight the education crisis in the Eastern Cape.

Zille said while she believed people in public life should be held accountable for what they said and did, “they should not have to do penance for the things that ‘people claim, believe, allege or assume’ they said”.

“Politics is full of people who create ‘pseudo issues’ to provoke ‘pseudo outrage’. They then demand a ‘genuine apology’, in order to legitimise the outrage they provoked.”

Zille said she had described the thousands of Eastern Cape pupils who arrive in the Western Cape as “education refugees”, because their right to education had been betrayed in their home province.

“These learners accounted for 44% of all new registrations, from Grade one to Grade 12, in Western Cape schools this year. This student migration is the major reason we are undertaking an emergency school building programme to complete 45 new schools within our term of office, while the Eastern Cape spent a paltry 28% of its infrastructure budget last year.” — WR.

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