Apartheid tweets lead to fresh calls for Helen Zille to vacate post

Social Media again pits ex-leader against fellow DA leaders

Calls are growing for DA federal chairperson Helen Zille to retire or step aside pending the outcome of a probe into her apartheid tweets, which caused a storm and plunged the opposition party into yet another controversy.

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey told Sunday World on Friday that he had a “grave issue” with Zille’s tweets and that if he were her, he would step aside pending an investigation. Zille recently tweeted that there were more racist laws today than during the apartheid government.

She said FW de Klerk, the last president of the oppressive system that was declared a crime against humanity by the UN, had dismantled apartheid.

This has angered some leaders of the organisation, who wrote to party leader John Steenhuisen to refer Zille to the party’s federal legal commission, the organisation’s disciplinary structure.

DA Gauteng spokesperson on education Khume Ramulifho and DA MP Hlanganani Gumbi have laid complaints against Zille, the former leader of the party who made a spectacular comeback to the echelons of the organisation last year, leading to the resignation of former leaders Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba.

“Complaints have been laid against her and the federal legal commission must do its job. I have grave issues with her tweets, however, the disciplinary process is under way as informed and it must take its cause,” Moodey said.

“Given the gravity of the tweets and the resulting fallout, I would have taken special leave until at least the investigation had been concluded.”

In his complaint, Ramulifho said Zille had violated the party’s constitution and media policy. “Apartheid laws were racist [and] intended to discriminate against black people,” he said.

In a tweet to Steenhuisen this week, DA KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli said: “Helen should be thanked for her service and retire now?” Zille also got involved in an ugly social media exchange with DA MP Phumzile van Damme, who told her that she would not be terrorised by her.

“The review (process of the party) recommended that there be an investigation of your Colonialism tweets. Where is the investigation? Instead, you and your faction have terrorised @LuyoloMphithi (DA youth leader) for something that wasn’t his fault,” she tweeted.

Van Damme would want to say more. Steenhuisen said he had spoken to Zille and told her that it was not true that there were more racist laws today than during apartheid.

“The high court judgment, which says it is okay for a government to choose who it helps in a time of crisis on the basis of race, is abhorrent. It must be taken on appeal, and we will do that,” he said.

“Commenting on this case, Helen Zille pointed out that all racist laws are wrong. This is true, and is consistent with Helen’s long record of opposing injustice.”

Zille did not respond to attempts to get comment.

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