The ANCYL, Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu have to "unreservedly apologise" to Helen Zille for calling her a "racist girl".
The ANC Youth League, its expelled president Julius Malema and its suspended spokesperson Floyd Shivambu have learnt the hard way that they can no longer defame Western Cape premier Helen Zille, which included describing her as a “racist girl” and referring to her all-male provincial Cabinet as her “boyfriends and concubines”.
Zille went to the Western Cape High Court with a R1.4-million claim for damages against the youth league, Malema and Shivambu for comments they made about her in 2009.
The settlement on Thursday means they will have to “unreservedly apologise” to Zille and “unequivocally retract their statements” but not pay for damages.
And in a move that could ensure that others do not sink to this level of politics again, the court also ordered that Zille’s costs be paid by the offending parties.
Zille told the Mail & Guardian she was delighted she was able to set a precedent to prevent politics from degenerating to the level of insults.
“I just had to draw the line in the sand at some time, so I quietly and behind the radar took the matter to court,” Zille said. “We can’t conduct our politics through insults. We have to move to issues. Before every election, especially ANC politics sinks to the level of racial insults. We will not in future accept the degeneration of our politics.”
A buoyant Zille said she had seen a copy of the intended apologies and retractions, which she had yet to receive.
Zille issued summonses against the three parties after she requested them to apologise, she said, and they had failed to do.
In court papers, Zille cited a number of examples of statements she considered defamatory that had been made by Shivambu, Malema and the league, during elections.
Shivambu allegedly talked about Zille on Kaya FM radio station, saying: “We’ve got serious concerns in the manner in which racism is spiralling out of control in the mind of the sick woman called Helen Zille.”
The former youth league spokesperson later told Radio Sonder Grense: “She has appointed a set of boyfriends and concubines who sleep around so that she can continue to sleep around” and “The ANC Youth League is disgusted by the remarks of the racist girl Helen Zille.”
In Zille’s court papers, Malema was accused of saying – at a Cato Manor rally in Durban in 2009 and which was published by newspapers and online – that “I only debate with serious political youth formations. Not a group of racist Helen Zille garden boys.”
That same year, Malema was accused of insulting Zille at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, and his quotes were widely published.
“We will never make up with Helen Zille – she is an enemy of the revolution ... she’s a racist and will remain a racist. She has a racist agenda of making the Western Cape a province for whites only. If she had a way as Premier to declare which people she wants in the province ... for sure by now she would have declared the Western Cape for whites only.”
Malema could not be reached but Shivambu, when asked by the M&G for comment, responded: “We are not going to be commenting about that,” and without saying goodbye, ended the conversation.
Lesley Mkhabela, who has acted as the attorney for the ANC Youth League, Malema and Shivambu in this case, is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.