De Klerk, apartheid & internal complaints: a week of Helen Zille

26 June 2020 - 15:29 By Cebelihle Bhengu
DA federal chair Helen Zille has been criticised again for her tweets, this time about last apartheid president FW de Klerk.
DA federal chair Helen Zille has been criticised again for her tweets, this time about last apartheid president FW de Klerk.

DA federal chair Helen Zille tweeted herself into hot water again this week, prompting the public and some members of the party to call her out.

Here’s how it all unfolded:

The tweet that started it all

Zille defended former president FW de Klerk’s legacy by saying he helped end apartheid.

She was responding to a Twitter user who accused SA’s last apartheid president of being  a “state looter”.

Zille said De Klerk helped dismantle apartheid, something the ANC was incapable of doing at the time.

When accused of being racist for these views, she responded: “There are more racist laws today than there were under apartheid.”

Mbali Ntuli responds

The DA's Mbali Ntuli was flooded with messages from the public, who asked her to take a stance on Zille's tweet. On Tuesday she revealed she had raised her concerns about Zille’s "controversial" tweets numerous times.

Some accused Zille of tweeting with “impunity” and getting away with it.

Ntuli said this was one of the reasons why she running for the party’s top position, to show voters “an alternative view of the DA”.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the public must address issues with DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, not the party’s “black reps”.

DA leaders file complaints

MP Hlanganani Gumbi and Gauteng MPL Khume Ramulifho on Wednesday submitted complaints about Zille’s tweet to Steenhuisen and Thomas Walters, Zille’s deputy.

Gumbi said Zille’s tweets were factually wrong and morally reprehensible. He said her conduct should be held to a higher regard and code of ethics.

Phumzile van Damme speaks out

Things  escalated when a Twitter user asked how black leaders in the party deal with Zille and her "offensive" tweets. The tweet specifically made mention of Van Damme and “the rest". In her response, Zille said they “chill” and enjoy the sea view.

Van Damme said she is open to having a candid conversation with Zille regarding issues that may lie between the two.

She also claimed  Zille had made unpleasant comments about her character before

Mike Moriarty challenges Zille for federal chair position

Gauteng DA chairperson Mike Moriarty threw his hat in the ring for Zille’s federal chair position.

On Thursday, he sent a letter within the DA asking for backing from party members. He made no mention of the controversy surrounding Zille's recent tweets, but said in his letter that someone in Zille’s position must “bring stability and not controversy”.

Zille was elected into the position in October last year.