Western Cape premier Helen Zille has warned her colleagues in the Democratic Alliance that they should be wary of adopting the racially divisive tenets of the ANC in a bid to garner more votes.
In a column for the Daily Maverick, Zille went into great detail to contextualise a series of tweets she posted last week, which appeared to ‘defend’ colonialism in South Africa, saying that not all consequences of the process were negative.
Zille tweeted that people claimed that the legacy of colonialism was only negative, but she insisted that there were positive effects as well.
Specifically, the premier said that, thanks to colonialism, South Africa benefited from an independent judiciary, transport infrastructure and other modern social features.
The statements sparked outrage from social media users, who lambasted Zille for ‘defending colonialism’ and implying that native societies would be unable to develop similar or better systems without western influence.
The tweets prompted responses from several DA members, including DA leader Mmusi Maimane and spokesperson Phumzile van Damme, who both said that there was nothing justifiable about colonialism.
The DA said that Zille would face its disciplinary committee over the tweets, and that Zille’s comments were “indefensible”.
Speaking while white
In her Daily Maverick column, Zille said her tweets were in the context of her trip to Singapore, where the country was able to bend its colonialist past into a more productive future for all its people.
However the backlash to her tweets – which she insists were not defending colonialism in any way, merely pointing out that there was an opportunity to build on the things it brought with it – reminded her that white South Africans had to be silent.
“While travel broadens the mind, I tend to forget that, on returning to South Africa, it is best to shrink your mind again to fit the contours of political correctness. Especially if you are white,” Zille said.
“We pay lip service to equal citizenship. In reality, every opinion is judged on the basis of the colour of the person who expresses it. ‘Speaking while white’ is considered the ultimate sin, in terms of the increasingly popular ideology called ‘critical race theory’. ”
Zille said that while she had always known that the ‘radical racial’ angle was part and parcel of the ANC and its rhetoric, she expressed concern that the DA was following suit.
“The real danger is that the DA, in its quest for votes, may start to swallow every tenet, myth and shibboleth of African racial-nationalist propaganda, including the scape-goating of minorities, populist mobilisation and political patronage. Then the institutionalisation of corruption will only be a matter of time.”
“If this were to happen, it will be irrelevant whether we win or lose elections, because we will no longer offer an alternative,” Zille said.