Zille: One Tweet too Many

In my mind, there are two notorious tweeters: Donald Trump & Helen Zille. Both use it to vent their frustrations. In neither case has its output been beneficial to the sender. In Helen’s case, it could result in some drastic action shortly. 

What is the prognosis? 

Main picture: Helen Zille autobiography as portrayed on social media

Unlike Donald Trump for whom I have no respect due to his impetuous, pompous and bullying tactics, I have the utmost respect for Helen Zille. As a journalist, she displayed fearsome courage in contradicting the Nationalists Apartheid policies and exposing the truth behind Steve Biko’s death. She never prevaricated or wilted under either the Nationalists of ANC’s incessant forays against her. Once in government in the Western Cape, The dirty tricks of the ANC in that province did not faze her. Again like the Iron Lady, Maggie Thatcher, she stood her ground.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

Has Helen crossed the line in condoning colonialism in her latest ill-considered tweet when arriving back in South Africa after a trip to Singapore?

The realities of South African politics at this juncture are fragile to say the least. With the ANC riven with factionalism, their prognosis for continued hegemony is at best precarious. Given the ANC’s current incompetence and hamhanded administration, this should be an apocalypse foretold. Theoretically, the Democratic Alliance should have the pickings of the spoils. The reality on the ground is vastly different. The factor which prohibits black voters from voting DA is disquiet regarding their racial credentials. This unease is also fanned by the ANC’s racist taints of WMC – White Monopoly Capital – et al.

Mmusi Maimane with Helen Zille

Mmusi Maimane with Helen Zille

Whilst Mmusi Maimane might be the DA’s Leader, elements within the ANC seek to portray him as a lackey of the white constituents of the DA. As such, Maimane is placed in an untenable situation. Be too soft on Zille, and he will be labelled as a white pawn. This will be milked for all it is worth by the ANC in order to deflect attention from their own morass. However, be too strong by demoting her, or heaven forbid firing her, and the whites within the party could by their unhappiness precipitate racial tensions within the party. This option would also tarnish the bright future of the DA amongst the black community.

Heavy lies the crown on the head of the Leader. Maimane is in a bind.

As one option, Maimane could instruct – sorry gently advise – the disciplinary committee to take it slow, preferably until after the 2019 general election. For most, this will confirm to many voters that the DA is as irresolute as the ANC on issues of principle. Furthermore, it would be a stick with which the ANC will whip the DA in order to deflect attention from their own woes.

As much as Maimane would want Zille to just be swallowed up by a giant sinkhole, realistically this will not happen. How about the unthinkable but possible solution. Zille by her own admission has already stated that she is past her sell-by date when she passed the baton to Mmusi Maimane as Party Leader. Why doesn’t she just call it quits and retire to a pleasant Western Cape coastal resort. As she has already written her autobiography, she could relinquish her journalistic pen  in toto and take up gardening or whatever, with the proviso that the whatever does not inflict any damage on the nascent DA hopes of occupying Parliament’s prime benches as governing party in 2019.


Just as an afterthought, maybe extract her cellphone from her grubby paws and cast into the cold waters of the Atlantis Ocean.

Purely as a precautionary measure of course


  1. Looking at the various comments on what Zille tweeted, the bottom line, to me, is that she has conflated two different issues. Are the concepts and implementation of healthcare, piped water, roads and an independent judiciary desirable? The answer must be “yes”. Was the way in which they were delivered to the indigenous countries through a process of colonial exploitation desirable? That is a different issue and depends on an entirely different argument. Man has been exploiting fellow man from time immemorial. That is just the way it has been and is. The island I come from was conquered numerous times (but not since 1066). The conquering power often leaves behind things that are desirable. But is that power entitled to exploit, impose and sometimes even decimate the indigenous? That is a totally different discussion which she should have left out of the equation. I liked Pierre de Vos’s comment – “It is also that the tweets are clearly irrational, literally making no sense to me, as they are premised on the untenable (racist) assumption that colonised countries would not have developed without being colonised and exploited.” Should each part of the World have been left to develop at its own pace? Could there have been a more moral, inclusive approach to sharing these desirable developments without the evils of exploitation? Probably, though reality dictates that it would never happen (the same argument exists about the capitalist exploitation of workers). The real debate is, “Was colonialist exploitation a good or bad thing!” The development of the V2 rocket led to man walking on the moon. Was the original development and use of the V2 desirable – clearly not. Perhaps it was one tweet too many!


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