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Helen Zille suggests her comments were taken out of context

In a video taken by the Knysna-Plett Herald, Zille addressed the issue, saying she doesn’t understand why people were angry.

Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who’s at the centre of controversy over a tweet claiming there were positives to colonialism, suggests her comments were taken out of context.

Zille will be the subject of an investigation by the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s Federal Legal Commission after she tweeted that the legacy of colonialism was not only negative.

During a discussion at the Knysna Literary Festival on Friday, the premier reiterated she was not defending colonialism but rather pointing out how Singapore has built a successful economy despite being affected by imperialism.

In a video taken by the Knysna-Plett Herald, Zille addressed the issue, saying she doesn’t understand why people were angry.

“The independent judiciary is an extraordinary bulwark against power abuse. The separation of powers, the very concept is colonial legacy. I didn’t think that was controversial. An independent judiciary took a thousand years to develop in the most advanced countries.”

Zille also told the gathering she was hoping to ignite a debate on the matter no attract controversy.

“When I go abroad and see a whole new world debate around these issues and see the entire literature out there, this entire literature on colonialism by different countries and what it meant and what the legacy was. I think can’t we actually engage these discussions?”

Meanwhile, DA Federal chairperson Athol Trollip on Friday was the latest to distance the party from comments made by former leader Helen Zille.

Trollip said public figures have to be aware of people’s sensitivities.

“Remember that we are a very diverse society and that we need to be sensitive and mutually respectful towards each other. If you are a public representative, whatever you say or write down, you need to take responsibility for it.”

He also warned of the dangers of 140-character tweets because there’s not room for context.

“The tweets have caused a lot of offence [as] colonialism was a phenomenon in the world at a certain time and it came with a lot of prejudice, oppression and a lot of exploitation. It also left a bitter taste in many of people’s mouths.”

LISTEN: Mmusi Maimane reacts to Helen Zille's tweets on colonialism

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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