ANC WC 'vindicated' by Mkhwebane’s finding on Zille's colonialism tweets

Busisiwe Mkhwebane says Helen Zille's tweets about colonialism were offensive and violated the Executive Ethics Act.

FILE: Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape says it's been vindicated by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's finding on Premier Helen Zille's tweets.

Mkhwebane says Zille's tweets about colonialism were offensive and violated the Executive Ethics Act.

Last year, Zille tweeted: “For those claiming that the legacy of colonialism was only negative, they should look at various aspects of South Africa’s development, such as the judiciary and other infrastructure.”

The ANC, which laid the complaint against Zille, says it welcomes Mkhwebane's 30-day deadline for the Western Cape Speaker to act against Zille.

A vote of no confidence brought against Zille by the ANC almost a year ago failed when it wanted her removed over the tweets.

ANC spokesperson Yonela Diko said: “To us, it’s also clear that the Democratic Alliance has finally woken up to the reality that Helen Zille has become a liability both in their party and in their political posture in the province. The regret expressed by Mmusi Maimane for not acting strongly against Zille is now widely shared and the DA provincial caucus is also showing signs of Zille-fatigue.”

Mkhwebane says Zille has failed to uphold her oath of office, divided society on racial grounds and failed to act in a manner consistent with the integrity of her office.

Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu said: “The premier has not received the actual report outlining the reasons for the finding, however, the Premier has already indicated to the Public Protector that she will take this report on judicial review and advised her, that in her view, such a finding would be unlawful and irrational.

Western Cape Provincial Legislature Speaker Sharna Fernandez says it's premature to comment on what action she plans to take, while Zille says she will be taking the finding on judicial review.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The public protector says the freedom of expression provisions in the Constitution were not created to allow people to make insensitive and offensive comments.

Advocate Mkhwebane says the complaint against Zille referred to the offence people had taken.

“The tweet has brought back a lot of pain and suffering to the victims of apartheid and colonialism in South Africa.”

In the report’s executive summary, Mkhwebane says Section 16 of the Constitution was not created to allow anyone, particularly those in positions of influence, to make offensive or insensitive comments.

She says Zille’s apology for the tweet was recognition of the negative impact it had on the dignity of sections of the population.

Additional reporting by Barry Bateman.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)