Zille's apartheid tweets: Horn to lead investigation, but no time frame given yet

Helen Zille.
Helen Zille.
Jaco Marais
  • DA MP Werner Horn will lead the party's investigation into federal chairperson Helen Zille’s controversial apartheid tweets. 
  • Zille is in hot water after she tweeted that there were more racist laws in the country now than there were during apartheid.
  • DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said he supported the FLC’s investigation.

Chairperson of the DA's federal legal commission (FLC) Glynnis Breytenbach has confirmed that MP Werner Horn will lead the investigation into federal chairperson Helen Zille’s controversial apartheid tweets.

Horn is also deputy chairperson of the party’s FLC.

Speaking to News24, Breytenbach said there was, at this stage, no time frame given for the investigation to conclude its work.

Zille, former party leader and Western Cape premier, is in hot water after she tweeted that there were more racist laws in the country now than there were during apartheid, and lauded the oppressive regime's last president FW de Klerk for its downfall.

This caused outrage in the party and saw Gauteng legislature member Khume Ramulifho and Member of Parliament Hlanganani Gumbi demand the matter be elevated and investigated

Interim party leader John Steenhuisen has said he believed Zille's claim was not true.

READ | Formal complaints lodged by senior black DA members against Helen Zille for apartheid tweets

Meanwhile, DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said he was in support of the investigation.

The Western Cape has the DA’s strongest support base in both rural and urban communities.

Support

"DA members have the right to take action against any member who has stepped over a line. I am definitely in support of the investigation," Madikizela said.

But he would not be drawn to comment on what impact Zille’s tweets could have on the party’s support.

"Now the FLC has decided to investigate the matter. As a member that actively participates in executive meetings, I cannot have a preconceived idea on the matter. I support the FLC investigation into Helen. It gives both parties a chance to state their case." 

This is not the first time the FLC has investigated Zille's tweets. In 2017, the body recommended that she be charged for her tweets about colonialism.

'Losing ground'

In a letter to DA members, Steenhuisen said the party had allowed itself to become involved in sideshows that distracted it from its objectives.

READ | Helen Zille says there are more racist laws today than during apartheid - we compared them

"If we have to spend time explaining, contextualising and defending comments on social media, we are losing ground in our real fight. What is important, however, is that we correct our course immediately and make up any ground we may have lost.

"Given the perilous state of our country’s economy, and the desperate position so many of our fellow South Africans now find themselves in, our project is far too important to spend any more time on issues that don’t move us forward," Steenhuisen wrote.

Apart from the investigation, Zille is also facing a challenge for her position at the party's virtual congress in October.

Mike Moriarty, DA Gauteng chief whip, has thrown his name into the hat to challenge Zille for the position of federal council chairperson.

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