ANC pickets for Zille's removal outside Western Cape legislature

Party says her punishment was not enough

ANC pickets for Zille's removal outside Western Cape legislature

15 June 2017

Cape Town - A small group of African National Congress caucus members and supporters picketed outside the Western Cape legislature on Thursday to call for the removal of Helen Zille as premier.

Former Democratic Alliance leader Zille has faced a public lashing this week following her apology on Tuesday for tweets she made praising some aspects of colonialism back in March.

She has stepped down from all positions in the DA as censure, but will remain in her government position as premier until the end of her term in 2019.

The ANC Western Cape caucus on Thursday said the punishment was not enough.

"The statement by Zille was an extremely racist one. Her motivation was worse: That these buildings, these cars would not be here if we weren't colonised," acting provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa said outside the legislature.

"That's an extreme insult to our people. It's an insult to the same people who voted DA in this province."

He said people were wasting their vote on a party that had remained, in effect, a "racist party" that wants to affirm the position of oppressors.

ANC provincial secretary general Faiez Jacob said Zille's tweets had harmed the people she governed, not just her party.

"We may be few, but we have a clear message for Premier Zille: She does not enjoy the support of our people," Jacobs said.

Colonialism had created a genocide of the ancestors of many people in the Western Cape - the Khoi and the San - he said.

"As Muslims, our religion was banned and our culture not allowed to flourish. Slavery brought hardship to our people. Our land was taken away from our people.

"Is that 'not all that bad?'" he asked rhetorically.

Motion of no confidence

Magaxa called again for the legislature to hold a debate on a motion of no confidence in Zille, saying she had lost the support of both her party and the people.

He told News24 after that he had still not been given a reason for why his application to hold the debate had not been scheduled by Speaker Sharna Fernandez.

He said Fernandez had forwarded the request on to the legislature's chief whip's forum, which he felt did not follow procedure.

The debate would probably only happen in two weeks' time, he added.

Fernandez's office had not yet responded to an earlier News24 request for comment at the time of publication.

Zille apologised to South Africans on Tuesday for her tweets justifying some aspects of colonialism, following three months of defending them.

"I realise my actions were insensitive to South Africans who suffered under colonial oppression," she said at a joint media briefing with party leader Mmusi Maimane in Johannesburg.

"After a period of debate and reflection, I recognise the offence caused by my tweet on 16 March 2017 with regard to the legacy of colonialism. I therefore apologise unreservedly to the South African public who were offended by this tweet and my subsequent explanation of it," she said.

Personally angered

Maimane, who said he was personally angered by Zille's tweets, said it was important for society to be mindful of the fact that colonialism was not a victimless crime.

"This has not been an easy decision. The alternative was to become embroiled in a protracted legal battle in the lead up to the 2019 election.

"Many South Africans suffered directly under colonialism and apartheid, and continue to be disadvantaged by the legacy of colonialism and apartheid," said Maimane.

He said the party would strive to build a future that is free of oppression going forward, with Zille adding that she will work to restore the public trust that has eroded.