The DA has washed its hands off Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s views on colonialism, after she continued to tweet about the “positive” effects thereof.
Zille was embroiled in a debate with TV personality Sizwe Dhlomo.
Federal executive chairperson James Selfe would not comment on whether or not the tweets were in breach of the party’s agreement or social media policy.
“We understand that these comments were made in her personal capacity, and her views on the subject do not represent those of the party,” he said.
Dhlomo had tagged Zille in a tweet by “The King Centre”, stating: “To be clear: There was nothing righteous, just or positive about the Transatlantic Slave Trade or slavery in America. Nothing. Shame on school boards and systems that allow textbooks and teaching that express otherwise.”
Zille replied: “I agree, there was absolutely nothing positive about slavery or the slave trade. If you read the transformed SA history textbook (issued in a democratic SA), you will see the acknowledgement that despite its many evils, colonialism helped end slavery in parts of Africa.”
She added: “You need to distinguish between them. Historical events can be inherently evil, but aspects of their legacy can turn out to be positive, although the positive does not cancel out the negative.”
It was at this point that Dhlomo reiterated Zille’s statement, before saying: “You, like it or not, are a beneficiary of colonialism, albeit indirectly. Your biases, whether you’re aware of them or not, make it unlikely for you to be able to accurately weigh up the negatives of colonialism versus these positives you speak of.”
He said the motive for colonialism was never to benefit the colonised – eventually.
“It was just an evil deed for the benefit of the coloniser.”
Zille responded that she agreed. However, Dhlomo continued that colonialism was not a once-off event as the effects still existed.
“You’ve also got to ask yourself, Helen, was there any other option? Meaning without colonialism were the colonised nations doing well? Would they have continued to do so & develop at their own pace? I see no reason why the answer would be no.”
He ended off by tweeting that pointing out these positive attributes of colonialism was “disregarding the hundreds of millions of lives lost and affected by colonialism”.
“It shows a lack of empathy and reasoning. It also shows lack intelligent leadership.”
Dhlomo stated that Zille showed no remorse.
Last year, Zille faced a disciplinary hearing and was ultimately suspended by the DA after she tweeted about the “positive” aspects of colonialism.
She, however, remains the premier of the Western Cape.
Soon after the incident, Zille tweeted an apology.
Earlier this year, Zille came under fire after she tweeted that colonialism brought the benefit of the water-piping system.
The DA then issued her with a letter cautioning her to stop tweeting about matters that did not concern the government of the Western Cape.
This was in stark contrast with how the party had handled the allegations against Mayor Patricia de Lille, who has demanded to be provided with an opportunity to clear her name.
De Lille has asked for an open hearing as her name was “damaged in public”.
Zille’s spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.