Official: Zille suspended from DA activities

2017-06-07 18:14
DA leader Helen Zille (File, Netwerk24)

DA leader Helen Zille (File, Netwerk24)

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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.

"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.

"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.

Read more on:    da  |  helen zille  |  politics

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