Helen Zille's tweets will not derail us - Mmusi Maimane

2017-05-06 20:00

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East London - During a provincial elective conference, the Democratic Alliance was divided on issues surrounding Helen Zille. 

During his key note address, party leader Mmusi Maimane said the DA’s sole focus was far too important to have to take a backseat to sideshows and distractions.

"Our project cannot afford to be derailed. Too many people are counting on us to make it work."

He said 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. 

Zille is charged with having broadly brought the party into disrepute and damaging the party, chairperson James Selfe told News24 earlier.

Zille's political career hangs in the balance following a series of tweets on March 16, from which the DA quickly distanced itself.

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."

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

Maimane said the DA was a party that united people.

"Our core vision that South Africa belongs to all who live in it is shared by the vast majority of South Africans. Outside the bubble of social media, our people are not nearly as divided as some would have you believe.

"The extreme views frequently expressed on Twitter are not shared by ordinary South Africans. And I certainly don’t share these views."

He added that he did not believe that there was a widespread campaign to shut down or delegitimise some citizens as less worthy than others as some fringe racists believe that.

"In the whole, South Africans reject hate and division and just want what is best for their families. I think it is incredibly damaging both to us as a party and to our society as a whole to persist with this narrative."

Putting forward these arguments only serves to place us in opposite corners, and then expects us to defend our corners from those who are different from us, he said. This turns them into opponents and would thus not allow them to engage on issues of race.

Maimane appealed for the party to not regress into our racial corners.

Newly appointed provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga however praised Zille as a person who inspired him and transformed his life. Bhanga who was absent during Maimane's speech said Zille had worked hard in transforming the country. 

"She continues to inspire me, I continue to respect her ideas, I continue to engage and disagree with her. Those are the most important people who transformed my thinking." 

When asked to comment on Zille's recent social media posts, Bhanga was quickly shutdown by national spokesperson Refiloe Ntsekhe who said it was unfair for him to answer on something that was presently before a disciplinary hearing.

Bhanga then said he still loved Zille.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  helen zille

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