Zille, two DA MPs to be disciplined for Tweets

Mmusi Maimane says former DA leader pitted "one race versus the other" with satirical reference to "black privilege"

'It's going to stop' - Zille's 'black privilege' tweet referred to DA's FedEx, says Maimane

Former DA leader and outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will be referred to the party's Federal Executive Council about her controversial "black privilege" tweet.

Two other DA MPs, Dr Michael Cardo and Ghaleb Cachalia, will also be subjected to internal processes after controversial tweets.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane and chief whip John Steenhuisen made it clear at a press conference on Tuesday that certain types of conduct on social media would not be tolerated.

In reference to his predecessor, Maimane said: "The appropriate steps have been taken in this regard. That the party will deal with it as a federal executive matter. I've certainly engaged her on this.

"What certainly cannot be happening is this view that we must be having this discussion on social media.

"No, we are a disciplined organisation."

He said public discussions on controversial topics on social media was going to stop.

"It's going to stop. We must focus now. We've got a lot work to do."

'I do not agree with the views'

Asked about his thoughts on Zille's tweet, Maimane started his answer amid sniggers from journalists and some MPs present: "You ask me about the twit… the, uhm, tweet."

He then spoke passionately on the topic.

"Let me say this categorically: I do not agree with the views that have been put forward by the former premier of the Western Cape. The discussion about privilege in this country is a function not only of our history… which advantaged a particular race over another, but it is also a function of what the last number of years has done in government where we have failed to create access to opportunity for all South Africans and ensuring that ultimately more South Africans can, in fact, be included in our economy.

"The resolution of that challenge, is not a function of discussing black privilege or white privilege. It is a discussion of asking black South Africans and white South Africans to address a historical injustice. And therefore any view that seeks to polarise on the basis of race is not a view I will support."

He said the focus must be on black and white South Africans to work together to address injustices.

The debate started by Zille's tweets "pits one race versus the other".

"Our job, when we talk about uniting people at the centre, must be on shared values, not a federation of races.

"We are dealing with an economy that is unequal, and that must be the focus."

Last week DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia claimed that radio personality Eusebius McKaiser applied to be a DA MP and then added: "Nothing quite like a woman scorned..."

Many Twitter users criticised Cachalia for the "homophobic, misogynistic" comment.

In the resulting twitter-storm, Cachalia in several tweets denied that it is homophobic and stated that he has many gay friends.

DA MP Dr Michael Cardo meanwhile responded to someone who criticised a tweet of his by referring to Pieter Howes, who recently committed suicide after a battle with depression.

"Hell's bells, it’s like Pieter Howes has been reincarnated with Tourette’s syndrome," Cardo tweeted.

Many Twitter-users deemed this insensitive and offensive.

In reference to Cardo and Cachalia, Steenhuisen said: "We have a social media policy that governs members' behaviour on social media. Both the members concerned have been referred to an internal process that's currently underway."

He said the outcome will be communicated once concluded.

"We may be a party of individuals, but we also acknowledge the fact that we are a team here in Parliament, and when damage is done by someone in their individual capacity, who is themselves a public representative we can't claim it is done in a personal, private capacity, because it has an impact on the organisation," Steenhuisen said.