13 June 2017

South Africa: Former Opposition Leader Zille Apologises for Colonialism Tweets

Cape Town — Helen Zille will retain her position of Western Cape Premier despite her removal from key bodies in the Democratic Alliance. This comes after she apologised unreservedly to the public for a series of tweets she wrote in which she defended colonialism.

"I realise the wounds of history that my tweet and subsequent defense of it has opened. I recognise that my actions were insensitive to South Africans who suffered under colonial oppression," said Zille.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane announced that Zille would step down from all the party's decision-making structures. "Helen has agreed that it is in the best interests of the party for her to vacate her position on all decision-making structures of the party, including the Federal Executive, Federal Council and Provincial Council." Zille's political communication will now be restricted exclusively to the Western Cape provincial government, said Maimane.

According to the Mail and Guardian, Zille's decision comes one week after she informed the publication she was seeking legal advice on how to appeal her suspension from the party. The risk of a protracted legal battle was a key factor Maimane considered and one he hoped the Democratic Alliance would avoid in the lead-up to the 2019 election. "This has not been an easy decision," he said.

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