Zille's tweet on colonialism violates Constitution - Public Protector

The Public Protector has found that a tweet about colonialism by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is in violation of the Constitution.

In a report released on Monday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said that Zille's conduct was tantamount to improper conduct in terms of the Constitution, as well as violating the Executive Ethics Code.

In 2017, Zille tweeted: "For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure etc."

"It cannot be said that the Premier's tweet sought to show concern and respect for those who were victims of apartheid and colonialism," said Mkhwebane in an executive summary.

She added that, although Zille had apologised, the apology could be interpreted as a recognition of the negative impact the tweet had on the dignity of a section of the South African population.

ALSO READ: Maimane admits to difficulties in relationship with Zille - report

The Public Protector said, while the tweet could have been made in the context of Zille's right of freedom to expression, it was still offensive and insensitive to a section of the South African population which regarded it as reopening a lot of pain and suffering to the victims of apartheid and colonialism.

"Section 16 of the Constitution was, therefore, not created to allow anyone, particularly those in positions of influence, to make such statements," said Mkhwebane.

As part of her recommendation on remedial action, Mkhwebane has instructed the speaker of the Western Cape legislature to take appropriate action and hold Zille accountable for her conduct.

Zille's office has issued a statement, in response to Mkhwebane's findings, saying that the premier is likely to take the report on judicial review.

"The premier has already advised the Public Protector that, in her view, such a finding would be unlawful and irrational."

Mkhwebane told reporters that Zille had written to her, saying she had done nothing wrong and was within her rights in terms of freedom of speech when she made the tweet.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Should the red carpet portion of SONA be scrapped this year?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's inappropriate given the state of the country
93% - 813 votes
No, it's part of the tradition
7% - 63 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.63
+0.2%
Rand - Pound
21.13
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
18.88
+0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.22
-0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.2%
Platinum
967.43
-0.7%
Palladium
1,581.77
-1.1%
Gold
1,870.55
+0.2%
Silver
22.25
-0.1%
Brent Crude
80.99
+1.3%
Top 40
73,337
-0.2%
All Share
79,417
-0.2%
Resource 10
74,490
+0.5%
Industrial 25
102,635
-0.5%
Financial 15
16,259
-0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE