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Adelbert Scholtz
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Helen Zille's tweet unconstitutional?

12 June 2018, 11:49

The Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, released a report on 11 June 2018 in which she slammed Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, for being “offensive” and “insensitive” in her infamous tweet over colonialism of March 2017. In addition, she found this tweet to be unconstitutional.

Exactly what did Zille tweet? The text of her tweet reads as follows: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

It may be argued that it must have been unwise to send this sentence into cyberspace. But is it unconstitutional? It is clear that the Public Protector, with all her purported legal expertise, forgot to read the Preamble to the Constitution of our country.

This Preamble is arguably the most important part of the Constitution since it gives the background of this document and provides the basic principles on which this foundational law of our country is based.

The Preamble quite correctly states the following: “We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land….”  With this, those who have struggled to overcome the unjust and cruel system of apartheid, are honoured for their contribution in bringing democracy to our country.

However, directly after these words, one also reads: “[We, the people of South Africa] …. respect those who have worked to build and develop our country.”

The people who are mentioned in this phrase are clearly those who made positive contributions to the development of our country during the time preceding the adoption of our Constitution in 1994 and 1996. In other words, everybody who agrees with the Constitution – including the Public Protector – also declares that the respect those from colonial times who helped to develop our country, also by providing us with a modern infrastructure and other institutions, such as an independent judiciary.

Ergo: Ms Zille’s tweet is totally in line with the Constitution of SA!

Helen Zille has already indicated that she plans to take the Public Protector’s report on judicial review. She is likely to use the argument provided above and she is bound to demonstrate thereby the incompetence and lack of legal knowledge of the Public Protector for the umpteenth time.

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