Five times Helen Zille made headlines in 2018
Western Cape premier Helen Zille is a newsmaker who often finds herself on the wrong side of social media. The following five incidents saw Zille make headlines and top Twitter trends lists in 2018.
Ethics code violation
This week, Zille was in the news following a report by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, released on Wednesday, December 19 2018.
Zille helped her son, Paul Maree, access tablets he needed to teach maths to disadvantaged students.
Maree did not receive any money for the lessons, but Mkhwebane said Zille’s intervention had given her son an “unfair advantage”.
Zille plans “to take the report on a full review”.
She said: “I wish to stress that if I face the same situation today, as I did then, in 2014, I would do exactly the same because it was the right thing to do.”
Zille was criticised by many people on social media, but she wasn’t short of defenders, including basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
The colonialism tweet
This is the second public protector report Zille will be taking on review this year.
In 2017, Zille tweeted: “For those claiming the legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc.”
She added: “Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence? Just be honest please.”
In June 2018, the public protector found that the tweets were a violation of the ethics code.
“Karma is a bitch”
Another tweet Zille should, perhaps, not have posted was the one in which she wrote: “For all the gloating Joh’burgers, please remember: Karma can be a real bitch.”
This was during the water crisis in the Western Cape.
She later apologised to “all the caring Joh’burgers”.
“I was responding to a tweet sent to me of a person wasting water telling me, gloatingly, that in Jozi they don’t have a problem.”
The “excellent earplugs” solution
When Zille was planning to host a matric dance after-party for her son and his school friends at her house, she claimed she did what any reasonable neighbour would do - she informed nearby residents about the event and told them there would be loud music.
But Zille went one step further. She told her neighbours they could drown out the noise by using the “excellent earplugs” she used for peaceful sleep. She offered to provide these.
Either neighbour Anthony Williams didn’t get the earplugs, got them and did not use them or they were not as “excellent” as the premier suggested, because Williams would later complain that the noise kept him up until 4am.
“The abuse of privilege that this constitutes is evident for us all to see,” he complained.
“Who let the dogs out?”
A 34-year old constable responsible for guarding Zille’s house claimed she was attacked by the premier’s dogs.
The constable injured her knee and wrist when she tried to evade the dogs. According to documents she showed the Sunday Times, she had to have surgery for her injuries.
The police union said there was an earlier incident involving Zille’s dogs. Two officers were attacked by the dogs and had to fire a warning shot to scare them off.
Zille dismissed the allegations.
“Our dogs have never attacked anyone on these premises.”