Zille: My sons toughened me up for politics

2015-05-10 13:09
Helen Zille with her two sons. (Deon Fereira, Newerk24)

Helen Zille with her two sons. (Deon Fereira, Newerk24)

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Cape Town - Part of Helen Zille's success as politician is actually thanks to her two sons and the hard time they would sometimes give her.

This was contained in a moving tribute Paul, 30, and Thomas,25, Maree paid to their mom on Saturday when she stepped down as DA leader after 8 years at the help of the official opposition party.

“As children we very soon realised she will reach great heights," Paul told the 1 500-strong audience at the DA congress in Port Elizabeth.

“That is why we often gave her a tough time, to prepare her for the many challenges she would have to face," he joked.

Thomas said Zille was not only successful as a politician, but also as a mother.

In an interview with Rapport, Paul and Thomas said as the only woman in the house, their mom did not always have it easy.

“We often ragged her and were always honest with her about her 'cooking skills',” Thomas said.

“Actually, 'cooking skills' are strong words," he laughed.

"She would put food on the stove, and then start an argument on Twitter. Half an hour later the food would be forgotten and the food burning in the pot."

For many others their mom might be the “Zillenator”, but for them she is a mother like any other.

“It is unbelievable to the cartoons depicting her as a massive monster, because we only see her soft, motherly side - that cares and worries about her children.

“For us she is the mom that calls to check whether you have put on sunscreen and to remind you to eat your vegetables," Thomas said.

Despite her busy political career, her sons were never in any doubt that they took priority in her life.

Once she has even walked out of a meeting with President Jacob Zuma to take a call from one of them," Paul said.

But is came as a big surprise to them when she called them for a family meeting last month to inform them of her intention to step down as DA-leader.

“It was a huge decision and shock for the family, but I do believe the timing was spot-on and that she leaves the party with a solid foundation," said Thomas.

Read more on:    da  |  helen zille  |  politics

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