Colonialism tweet backlash 'anti-white' - Zille

Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has reiterated her belief that colonialism had positive effects, while suggesting the backlash against it was a result of an "anti-white" sentiment, in an article she penned in the Sunday Times.

Acknowledging that colonialism "can never be defended, let alone justified," Zille, however, also cited a paragraph in a high school textbook, In Search of History, which suggested there were certain positive effects to colonialism.

In March, in a series of tweets on her way back from Singapore, the premier tweeted about colonialism, and ended off with: "Getting on to an aeroplane now and won't get on to the wi-fi so that I can cut off those who think every aspect of colonial legacy was bad."

She later apologised for her comments, saying she never intended to defend colonialism. 

The South African Human Right Commission will now investigate the tweets. 

The commission had received several complaints about Zille’s tweets, SAHRC spokesperson Gushwell Brooks told News24.

On Sunday, Zille wrote that it was with "utter amazement" that she experienced the backlash to her tweet.

She said it had been part of a series of "reflective tweets" about how Singapore had "repurpose[d] aspects of colonialism’s legacy to build, strong inclusive economies" – but that the social media message had then been "deconstructed and distorted".

'Shift in politics'

The backlash against it, suggested Zille, was a symptom of a "tectonic shift" in South African politics. "The Mandela era has come to an end."

Instead, this had been replaced with a critical race theory which positioned whiteness and whites as key obstacles to the progress of black people in South Africa.

Earlier this month, the DA announced that a formal disciplinary hearing would be instituted against Zille after it was alleged that she had violated the party’s federal constitution by acting in a manner which had brought the party into disrepute.

"She is charged with having broadly brought the party into disrepute and damaging the party," the DA's federal chairperson James Selfe told News24.

The formal charges against Zille follow an interim report by Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, chairperson of the DA's federal legal commission, which was completed on March 25. 

"Breytenbach's preliminary investigation found that Helen had a case to answer," Selfe said. 

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