21 May 2019

South Africa: DA's Social Media Meltdown - Helen Zille Rebuked By Party Behind the Scenes, but Wider Battle Rages


After former DA leader Helen Zille embarked on a tweeting spree which included favourable references to the apartheid education system, pressure has been mounting on the party to take some action. Although the DA says it has communicated its disapproval to Zille, she is now effectively freed from disciplinary consequences as an ordinary party member. But the same does not hold true for DA figures like MP Ghaleb Cachalia.

Former DA leader Helen Zille's often controversial Twitter behaviour has appeared to cross a new threshold in recent days. In the course of a rant dismissing the concept of "white privilege" as a meaningless generalisation, Zille also favourably compared the apartheid education system to that under ANC governance.

Her tweets included the comment that one difference between the apartheid administration and the ANC was that "textbooks were actually delivered then [under apartheid]".

When numerous Twitter users objected that those who benefited from apartheid education were predominantly white, Zille doubled down: insisting that during apartheid, textbooks were delivered "to everyone".

Zille's statements are historically inaccurate.

As Kenneth Hartshorne's 1992 scholarly work Crisis and Challenge: Black Education 1910-1990 makes clear - along with abundant other sources and the lived experience of black South...

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