Battle lines drawn between Maimane and Zille

2017-05-16 17:18
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Monica Laganparsad, News24)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Monica Laganparsad, News24)

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Johannesburg - Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has again lashed out at his predecessor and DA Western Cape leader Helen Zille, with a veiled reference to her Twitter posts on colonialism.

Speaking at the party's realignment of politics press briefing - where delegates and ambassadors were part of the guest list - Maimane said: "There is no space for people who hanker after our colonial and apartheid past."

Maimane's comments follow the announcement that former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli has been charged for breaching the party's social media policy. Ntuli will have to answer allegations that she liked a Facebook comment that called Zille a racist, City Press reported.

Zille had posted a series of tweets in March on "lessons" learnt from a visit to Singapore.

"For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc," she wrote.

'Rule from the grave'

Maimane has been seen as Zille's protégé. He ascended to the position of DA leader with her backing at the party's 2015 elective conference.

The controversy has seen many who opposed Maimane at the congress rallying behind him and accusing Zille of trying to "rule from the grave".

In his speech, Maimane said colonialism was brutal because it extracted resources from African people to make rich people in Europe even richer.

He said Africans had never agreed to be colonised, but that it was forced upon them at the barrel of a gun.

"As a black South African whose family lived through colonial and apartheid oppression, I have nothing good to say about those evil systems. So let me say today, in clear and unambiguous terms, there is no place for racists, homophobes and sexists in the party I lead," he said.

Zille's comments have placed the party in a compromising position, as Maimane attempts to eliminate its reputation for being a white, middle class party.

Her continued defence of her views, in an article published by the Daily Maverick, was seen as a declaration of war against Maimane, News24 earlier reported.

'Fan the flames'

In East London, two weeks ago, Maimane said the DA's sole focus was far too important to have to take a backseat to sideshows and distractions.

The party's project could not afford to be derailed, he said, adding that the DA's cause was "certainly not helped by public discussions and arguments on topics such as colonialism".

"We live in a time of heightened racial tension, the embers of which are regularly reignited by those who stand to benefit from mistrust and division. But we don't have to buy into it, and we don't have to fan the flames."

The DA's federal committee formally laid charges against Zille for her remarks on colonialism.

She is charged with broadly bringing the DA into disrepute and damaging the party, chairperson James Selfe told News24 earlier.

Read more on:    da  |  helen zille  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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