Zille denies 'slamming' Maimane's stance on public protector, insists DA faces serious 'dilemma'

29 July 2019 - 10:41
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Helen Zille.
Image: RUVAN BOSHOFF Helen Zille.

Former DA leader Helen Zille has denied slamming Mmusi Maimane's stance on public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying instead that the party faces a "serious dilemma".

This after Maimane spoke out about the DA's relationship with Mkhwebane.

TimesLIVE reported that he said although he was pleased with Mkhwebane's findings regarding President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign funding, she must go.

He added that the Constitutional Court judgment against her strengthened the party's case to have her removed.

Speaking on eNCA, Zille said Maimane should not have approached the public protector's office about Bosasa's alleged donation to Ramaphosa's ANC presidential campaign, while at the same time calling for her removal.

" ... we believe that the public protector has been captured by a faction of the ANC, which is very unfortunate, because the public protector should do her job without fear or favour."

Zille was accused of lambasting Maimane's decision while addressing around 200 people at the Cape Town Press Club last week. BusinessLIVE reported she "chided" Maimane, saying the party can't be for and against the public protector.

She has since denied the claims, saying it was not a "criticism", but a serious "dilemma."

"I respected Mmusi's decision ... I didn't lambaste anybody. I just merely said it was a dilemma."

*Editor's note: The headline of this article has been amended to reflect Helen Zille's denial that she criticised DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

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"What is an opposition party to do when there is seemingly a legitimate complaint under the Executive Ethics Act and that is your only recourse? So it is a terrible dilemma for the party. Either you let an alleged breach of the Executive Ethics Act go by or you take it to a compromised public protector," said Zille.

However, speaking on the move by the DA to approach the public protector to have Ramaphosa investigated, she said it was the opposition's role and duty to take up any alleged breach of the Executive Ethics Act.

"But it is a terrible dilemma to have such a compromised public protector and you have a complaint that only she can adjudicate," she said. "Things are not cut and dry or black and white in our politics. There are complex moral dilemmas and that is what we need to understand."

Social media and tweeting

Zille, who herself has attracted controversy with tweets on the benefits of colonialism and alleged black privilege, said free speech and open debate is "absolutely critical".

"Vigorous debates involve saying things that aren't popular, and almost every progress in human history has involved people who have said things that aren't popular, especially when vested interests are challenged.

"I will continue challenging vested interests, especially those that undermine the building of common nationhood and the inclusive economy that we need," she said.