Tag Archives: DA and racism

South Africa – Max du Preez says Zille has no choice but to resign

News 24

Helen Zille’s only option is to resign

Helen Zille has faced a backlash from Twitter users following her latest posts which appeared to argue for, in her opinion, the positive aspects of colonialism. This is not the first time the Western Cape Premier has been controversial on social media. Watch. WATCH

The only outcome of the Helen Zille Twitter saga that won’t seriously harm the DA is if she resigns from all her political positions as soon as possible and retires from politics.

It would be a tragic end to an illustrious political career, but the only worse option would be for her to fight back, see her white supporters mobilise around her and then get blamed for undermining her party’s possibilities to grow.

If she doesn’t resign and the DA’s disciplinary committee decides not to suspend her, Mmusi Maimane and all the other promising black leaders of the DA will in future struggle to counter accusations that they’re mere black pawns of a white power bloc.

If she does get suspended, the hysteria among many white DA voters will run high and it will divide the party even more along racial lines.

The best option would be for her to quit, not to wait for a disciplinary hearing.

But it’s about more than just the DA’s fortunes. Black South Africans should be forgiven if they have the impression that if a prominent “progressive” liberal white such as Zille has these views on colonialism, most white people do.

It was an astonishing judgement error on Zille’s part to think something as sensitive and complex as the legacy of colonialism could be discussed reasonably and sensibly on a medium like Twitter.

It’s not as if she’s new to Twitter. She has put her foot in it several times with her tweets and every time complained that she was misunderstood.

Why did she not wait to write about her experiences in Singapore in a thoughtful piece, as she did afterwards, using more than 140 words?

Secondly, the wording of her tweets was so thoughtless that one can hardly believe she’s a seasoned, sophisticated politician.

She started off well with her series of tweets by stating that we could learn lessons from Singapore, a country that had also been colonised and is now thriving.

But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Zille descend to the level where she mentioned piped water and transport infrastructure as examples of the positives of colonialism.

It’s the old crude technology argument: if white European colonialists didn’t arrive on the southern tip of Africa 360 years ago, the poor indigenous people would still be living in the Iron Age. So be grateful.

How did Zille think black South Africans, and black DA supporters, were going to react to that?

No wonder racial fundamentalists like Steve Hofmeyr and AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel jumped to her defence.

This was Kriel’s brain flash on Twitter: “To hypocrites that react hysterically re Helen Zille: If you use colonial infrastructure without acknowledging it, it’s called plagiarism!”

Kriel and Hofmeyr’s ilk loved this and embroidered: black people who use cell phones, drive cars, play soccer and watch television should thank colonialism.

As an Afrikaner I find it strange that others of my tribe, whose ancestors were themselves victims of British colonialism and who like to describe themselves as indigenous Africans, defend colonialist oppression with such enthusiasm.

I was wondering: what technological advancement did my (mostly poorly educated) Voortrekker ancestors deliver to the black people in the interior when they trekked there in the early 19th century, apart from firearms that is?

I get that Zille was trying to say South Africa could have, like Singapore, done more with what they had after colonial oppression ended.

But what point was she trying to make with her other tweets? It’s not as if it’s in dispute that technology and knowledge have over millennia been exchanged between civilisations and groups. Neither does anyone reasonably deny that colonial occupation has been part of the human condition since the earliest days of our species.

Any sensible discussion on colonialism should at least make mention of the fact that foreign occupation seriously interrupted the natural development of occupied societies; that indigenous knowledge systems got destroyed; that societies only develop technologies their circumstances demand for their survival.

Zille should visit countries like Ethiopia, where powerful and technologically advanced kingdoms arose from the 8th century onwards. They developed technologies like their own script, complex architecture and irrigation systems because they needed them.

I wanted to send Zille my books on the pre-colonial philosopher Mohlomi, a towering intellectual giant of his time who had never once met a European; and his protégé, King Moshoeshoe I, a leader of great wisdom and foresight who, among other things, had invented the concept of diplomatic immunity and was honoured for that by the king of France.

The legacy of colonialism and how its victims feel about it is too complex a topic for me to discuss even here, where I have 800 words.

But two reactions to her tweets that came very quickly from two of Zille’s black DA colleagues are worth mentioning.

Should a woman who was raped, asked one, declare that it wasn’t an altogether terrible experience because a child was born after the assault?

Another asked whether Namibians should thank South Africa for its brutal military occupation because the old SADF left behind good roads they can now use.

Do the honourable thing, Helen. For your own sake, for that of your party and for all our sakes, retire now.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

South Africa – what can Maimane do about Zille?


2017-03-19 06:08

Mmusi Maimane

Mmusi Maimane

2017-03-17 21:56

Helen Zille has faced a backlash from Twitter users following her latest posts which appeared to argue for, in her opinion, the positive aspects of colonialism. This is not the first time the Western Cape Premier has been controversial on social media. Watch.

So, here is some wisdom from some of the world’s most famous racists.

The first quote is from US right-winger James Buchanan, who is the intellectual version of the Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke.

“European colonialism was not an entirely negative phenomenon for the Third World areas that were occupied.

“Most of the Third World was run by brutal chieftains, sultans and kings, who did little to improve life for their subjects. Colonialism brought roads, railways, bridges, medicine, long-range trade and Christianity to backward Third World nations.

“Naturally, the European powers benefited most from colonialism, but the natives’ lives were often improved,” Buchanan wrote.

Then there is our very own Steve Hofmeyr, the most openly racist South African.

“You must appeal to base sentiment as Africa has yet to yield a single intellectual, a single thought school, a single intellectual thought not inspired by the very West you and [President Robert] Mugabe detest,” he said in an open letter to then ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema a few years ago.

There is Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is part of the third generation of a right wing French political family.

Responding to growing calls in Algeria for France’s brutal and murderous colonial rule to be declared a crime against humanity, the 27-year-old MP and niece of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was caustically dismissive.

She tweeted: “If the French colonisation of Algeria is a crime, then why do many Algerians dream of coming to France?”

Clearly inspired by these intellectual heavyweights, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille this week decided to add her voice to the historical revisionism around colonialism in a series of unhinged tweets.

She tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

She continued to ask if there would have been “a transition into specialised healthcare and medication without colonial influence…” and even added “just be honest, please”.

It was instructive that the first figure to come to her defence – after the whole country, including her party, had slated her – was the openly racist Hofmeyr.

“Could someone, ANYONE, prove @helenzille wrong before crucifying, trampling and feeding her to the dogs?” Hofmeyr tweeted.

It was also interesting that, in feigning contrition, Zille turned to the form book of those who hurt others with prejudiced comments.

“I apologise unreservedly for a tweet that may have come across as a defence of colonialism. It was not,” she said, in something that sounded much like Penny Sparrow’s, “I wish to make a public apology for my thoughtless behaviour. I have hurt the feelings of my fellow South Africans.”

Or that of Zimbabwean cricketer Mark Vermeulen, who, after calling black people apes, said: “I know my comments were over the top and I apologise to all that I have offended.”

The thing with Zille’s apology is that, as with all the other empty withdrawals of racist outbursts, it is meaningless.

The victims may forgive and move on, but it does not take away the fact that the sentiment was expressed.

When she typed those tweets – regardless of her state of mind – she was expressing her beliefs.

These were beliefs that she had successfully concealed during her years of student activism, courageous journalistic career, involvement in civil society formations and her participation in the Convention for a Democratic SA, as well as her years in academia and in her formal political life.

It is pointless to call for politicians to “do the right thing” when faced with scandal and controversy.

So it would be naive to expect Zille to voluntarily do what her party asked of many ANC politicians during her time as a senior member and later as leader of the DA.

Although she has said things that violate the spirit of our Constitution and fly against South Africa’s quest for social cohesion and harmonious nationhood, she is unlikely to accept that her personal prejudiced views are in conflict with the office she occupies.

Zille will leave it up to the DA leadership to “do the right thing” about her.

As long as Zille remains ensconced in her Wale Street office running the affairs of the Western Cape government on a DA mandate, the party will be in a deeply compromised position.

All the epithets that have been thrown at it will stick to it like the toothbrush moustaches under the noses of Hitler and Mugabe.

It goes without saying that Zille has presented party leader Mmusi Maimane with the biggest headache since he took over two years ago. But she has also presented him with an opportunity to emerge from her shadow.

Since he entered politics in 2011, Maimane has been characterised as Zille’s protégé.

Even as he asserted his authority in the party, he battled to shake off this patronising view of him.

Even after delivering a significant milestone as a leader after last year’s elections – Tony Leon delivered the official opposition status and Zille won the Western Cape and Cape Town – his critics still insisted that he wasn’t his own man.

This week, in the weirdest of ironies, the person who is said to be his mentor and sponsor has given him the opportunity to prove his mettle by chopping off her head.

He now has to show he has cojones.

And big ones at that.

South Africa – is Helen Zille racist? Some think so.


2017-03-17 08:47

The suffering of black people under colonialism and apartheid architects is well documented. Racism – subliminal and overt – is a big problem around the world. South Africa is a hot spot.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, a proudly racist public figure, regularly reminds us that the road to building a nonracial South Africa envisaged in the Constitution will be long and tortuous.

For a very long time, being black automatically conferred upon a large part of humanity the default dishonour of being subhuman. A number of racist experiments were carried out in Africa.

And for all the pain, according to Zille’s racist wisdom, Africans should be grateful. So, when Africans look back to how Cecil John Rhodes instituted a system stripping black workers naked and whipping them, they should be grateful that “not all was bad” after all.

When the colonial and apartheid governments stole land from indigenous people, killed and maimed them, there was an element of goodwill, we must understand.

When Africans and other nationalities around the world learn that their impoverishment can be traced back to the global slave trade that converted human beings into property that can be traded, they must always keep in mind that “not all was bad” about the system.

The descendants of the victims of Namibian genocide should understand that “not all was bad” when German General Lothar von Trotha ordered: “Shoot any Herero, with or without a rifle, with or without cattle.”

For centuries, a whole body of literature was developed and peddled by racists to “prove” deeply-held white prejudices that black people were inherently inferior. They advocated, as Zille does in the twenty-first century, that colonialism was good for the subjugated.

In the words of former President Thabo Mbeki, “those whose minds have been corrupted by the disease of racism, accuse us, the black people of South Africa as being, by virtue of our Africanness and skin colour, lazy, liars, foul-smelling, diseased, corrupt, violent, amoral, sexually depraved, animalistic, savage – and rapist.”

Zille, who has also been corrupted by the disease of racism, has become the proponent of twenty-first century racism. Clearly, injecting Botox into the brain is dangerous.

The struggles against colonialism and apartheid were meant to reclaim the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. People like Zille remind us that the struggle is far from over.

Steve Biko and his generation of thoughtful leaders countered racism by inculcating self-pride among black people. Having been subjugated over centuries black people needed to reject the imposed inferiority complex. There was no better place to start than the rehabilitation of the black person’s conscience. This was the first step to liberation.

As an identity, blackness or being African has a significant political meaning beyond race. In a politically civilised post-94 South Africa, black means triumph of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid. It means the restoration of pride of the previously dehumanised. It means black excellence has to be acknowledged and be accorded its rightful place because excellence is what it is regardless of race.

Black people who understand their historic duty to repair the damage inflicted upon them by years of colonialism and apartheid will do everything they can to fight the persistent claim made by colonial enthusiasts like Zille.

This calls for high-level consciousness and the need to jealously guard the meaning of blackness in the context of historic deprivation and the duty to construct a humane world.

It is with this in mind that black people must never use blackness, black people’s culture and their languages to justify crude mediocrity. Black people who invoke blackness, culture and language to advocate or defend incompetence should know that they are working for colonial enthusiasts like Zille.

Verwoerd probably smiles wryly in his grave when he sees fake liberals like Zille peddle racist theories while black people undermine their own struggle.

The uncouth attempt by Lumka Oliphant, the spokesperson of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, to explain the social grant scandal in an African language on 702, an English language radio station, was part of the perpetuation of black inferiority.

Although she is entitled to speak in a language of her choice, one finds it offensive that she invoked this right of speaking an African language only when she had to defend the rot at the South African Social Security Agency and the blatant constitutional violation.

More so when one considers the fact that the majority of the beneficiaries of the social grants are black and the idea of an expanded equitable grant system, an important mitigating factor against crushing poverty, was conceived by a government led by blacks to restore the dignity of black people.

That such a noble system has been put on trial by people like Oliphant who have suddenly discovered the urge to be advocates of African languages is scandalous.

African culture must never be used to dress up corruption. It must not be invoked to justify mediocre, illegality and lack of accountability.

Why hasn’t Oliphant offered English radio stations interviews in an African language when she didn’t have to defend illegality and incompetence of her boss? What makes it acceptable to seek to defend corruption “ngeSintu”?

Oliphant is not alone in undermining the unfinished struggles of black people. Many people who get caught doing the wrong thing invoke blackness to either justify wrongdoing or avoid taking responsibility. Even the black people who have been fronted by foreigners to capture the democratic South African state invoke black people’s interests to advance nefarious intentions. This undermines the struggle against racism.

It’s about time black people defended their real interests. Regardless of the language they speak, incompetent people like Oliphant and Dlamini do not represent black people. And whatever it is they represent, it’s certainly not black.

As for Zille, it’s about time progressive white people took her on. Unless they agree with her and they are nostalgic about the romantic colonial and apartheid past.

Ultimately, all South Africans of all racial backgrounds have a responsibility to build a nonracial society, heal the divisions of the past and restore the dignity of the dispossessed. The Constitution demands nothing less.

The Democratic Alliance, which styles itself as a constitutionalist party, has an opportunity to demonstrate that it is committed to this constitutional vision.

It must fire Zille.

– Mpumelelo Mkhabela is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

South Africa – will racism be main focus of ANC election campaign

Mail and Guardian

The ANC is positioning itself at the forefront of the racism fight and will seemingly grab any opportunity to shame racial slip-ups by rival parties.

Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC's birthday celebrations in Rustenburg. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

The fight against racism looks set to be one of the main themes of the ANC’s local government elections campaign this year, with the party firing an early salvo at its traditional January 8th birthday celebrations over the weekend.

President Jacob Zuma, delivering the ANC’s birthday message at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday, said the party must lead society in the fight against racism. He warned of tough measures against citizens found to be racist.

The issue reared its head in previous elections with the ANC painting the Democratic Alliance as a white party with a white leader that black people should not vote for. The DA has since elected a black leader, Mmusi Maimane, and the ANC will have to change tack somewhat.

The governing party has now tapped into a growing anger and activism against racism in South Africa, especially on social media where many middle class voters hang out.

The racism issue, however, resonates beyond the middle classes with the poor who might feel that they have been disowned by apartheid, so economic freedom also came up in Zuma’s speech.

The DA has been particularly vulnerable to racism accusations in the last few months. It took action against MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard for reposting a Facebook post which harked back to the days of apartheid president PW Botha. It also had to suspend Penny Sparrow’s DA membership after she posted racist comments on her Facebook page and caused a widespread outcry.

And while the Economic Freedom Fighters still appeared to be away on their Christmas break, the ANC took the kind of activist stance usually practised by the EFF by going to the police to lay charges against Penny Sparrow.

The party also organised pickets in front of Standard Bank over economist Chris Hart’s comments on Twitter. It thus took ownership of the anti-racism debates of the past week.

In his speech on Saturday, Zuma called on the party’s branches to be activists and to lead society.

“We call on ANC branches to develop specific campaigns against racism and to involve their communities, civil society and religious organisations in these campaigns,” he said.

He repeated this later in his speech, linking it to political education: “Our branches must develop a direct campaign to promote non-racialism throughout communities.

“There must be ongoing political education throughout the ANC and we direct our branches to have consistent political activities and campaigns.”

These classes should happen at least once a month, he said.

He also called on his party to “unite all the people of South Africa, black and white”.

Then added: “There is enough room in the ANC for everyone.”

The DA of late has been boasting that it has turned into the only real non-racial party in the country, representing black and white, while the ANC has been bleeding some of the little white support it had.

Zuma painted the ANC as the original champion of non-racialism. Widening the call to “comrades and compatriots”, he said: “The ANC has historically pursued the ideal of non-racialism as a South African reality.”

He called on “all the people of this country to work together and defeat the demons of racism and tribalism”.

Then he took a stab at Kohler-Barnard: “It is clear that there is a tiny minority in our country that still harbours a desire for separate amenities and who idolise apartheid-era leaders who made our country the skunk of the world.”

He said the ANC put in place laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, and hinted that the party would use these to “end racial exploitation in all its forms and wherever it occurs: in the workplace, in the education system, the health sector, in the administration of justice, in access to government services and in the private sector.”

Later he shifted his attention to economic change, saying the private sector lagged behind “when it comes to the effective utilization of all productive forces in society. Many boardrooms and many top management positions remain white male dominated. This must change.”

Radical economic transformation has been a campaign driven by the EFF’s Julius Malema from the time he was in the ANC Youth League. The ANC has held onto the slogan as well, but the rallying cry will get a new life when coupled with the party’s drive to eradicate racism and apartheid’s legacy.

“While great progress has been made in reversing three centuries of colonial marginalisation and neglect, there is much more that needs to be done to speed up change,” Zuma said.

“We will continue to address the economic legacy of apartheid. Economic freedom must become a reality in our lifetime!” he said.

But then he emphasised that it was the ANC’s project, originally: “The ANC has long set out to place our economy on a new growth path that will de-racialise the economy and make a fundamental break with the ownership patterns of the past.”

Turning to land, Zuma promised that the ANC would “continue to work with all sectors to find lasting and meaningful ways of effecting redress for the centuries-long injustice of land dispossession. The return of land must enable an increase in food productivity.”

The EFF this weekend came onboard the debate with a provocative opinion piece by Malema entitled: “Why do white people despise blacks”.

The DA on its part blamed the racial tensions on Zuma’s leadership, saying the party under him has abandoned Nelson Mandela’s vision of a non-racial country.