DA mustn't adopt ANC's 'African racial nationalism' - Zille

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Helen Zille. (News24)
Helen Zille. (News24)

Johannesburg - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has warned of the "dangers" of the DA adopting the ANC policy of "African racial nationalism" to get votes.

"The real danger is that the DA, in its quest for votes, may start to swallow every tenet, myth and shibboleth of African racial-nationalist propaganda, including the scape-goating of minorities, populist mobilisation and political patronage," Zille wrote in an open letter, in the Daily Maverick, defending her tweets praising aspects of colonialism last week.  

Then the institutionalisation of corruption would only be a matter of time, Zille concludes.

Zille maintains that, although the system of colonialism was oppressive and evil, not every consequence had been negative.

She defended the DA's "colonial legacy" of due process, and said she believed she would get a fair trial during the disciplinary process because of that.

"I am deeply grateful for the DA's legacy (dare I call it colonial?) of due process of law, including audi alterem partem (hear the other side)," Zille wrote.

The former DA leader caused a Twitter storm when she tweeted on Thursday: "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 was openly criticised by DA leader Mmusi Maimane. "Let's make this clear: Colonialism, like Apartheid, was a system of oppression and subjugation. It can never be justified," he tweeted, just after she apologised.

Maimane took over from Zille in 2015, and has largely been seen as her protege.

'Being white considered ultimate sin'

Zille used quotes by former President Nelson Mandela and a Xhosa poet to justify her praise of aspects of colonialism.

She said the Twitter storm reminded her of Mandela’s views that, although the missionary schools that educated African leaders of his generation were criticised for being colonialist in their attitudes and practices, the "benefits outweighed their disadvantages".

Xhosa praise poet Mbongi yali Manisi had also thanked missionaries for turning the language into a written language, Zille said.

Zille said that, in South Africa, one was expected to "shrink your mind to fit political correctness," depending on "the race of the person", with being white "considered the ultimate sin".

"Especially if you are white. We pay lip service to equal citizenship. In reality, every opinion is judged on the basis of the colour of the person who expresses it."

"Speaking while white" was considered the ultimate sin, in terms of the increasingly popular ideology called "critical race theory", Zille wrote.

"There were many who agreed with me, but berated me for trying to convey this in the 140 characters that Twitter allows," Zille said.

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