The ANC in the Western Cape has warned that if the Democratic Alliance fails to take adequate action against Premier Helen Zille for her tweets on colonialism, it will have to approach the Human Rights Commission.
The DA’s federal executive, its highest decision-making body, will meet this weekend. Party leader Mmusi Maimane is expected to voice his own concerns about delays in setting a date for Zille’s disciplinary hearing.
Zille’s tweets, in which she argued that colonialism was not all bad, were met with a public outcry and angered some of the DA’s black leaders. She was publicly challenged about her stance by Mbali Ntuli, a member of the provincial legislature in KwaZulu-Natal.
The ANC says it will carefully monitor the matter and its outcome.
“We’re still patiently waiting for DA processes to go ahead up until we get to a situation where they are able to rule on the matter. If there’s nothing satisfying from that outcome, then we’ll have no choice but to go to the Human Rights Commission,” said the ANC’s acting Western Cape chairperson, Khaya Magaxa.
With the party preparing for the 2019 elections, Maimane says he wants Zille’s hearing finalised as soon as possible.
“My focus is on making sure the matter is resolved so that we can focus on what we do. We are the best option for South Africa and we are focusing on 2019. So I want the matter raised at the federal executive meeting.”
Zille was formally charged for bringing the party into disrepute in April for the series of tweets, one of which read: “For those claiming [the] legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water.”
Last month, Ntuli was also charged after liking a Facebook comment that accused Zille of being racist. The apparent haste with which a hearing date was set for Ntuli – she was charged in May but has already been given a hearing date – prompted further questions about why Zille was yet to face the music.
The federal executive is also expected to deliberate on Ntuli’s case after her hearing date was postponed to allow mediation to be considered instead of disciplinary action.
The ANC has said it has no faith in the DA’s ability to act adequately against Zille. “We know they’re going to delay. We know the intention is to let this matter die out. But for us, we’re not going to let it die out. For as long as Zille is leader of this provincial government, we can’t have her harbouring such backward thinking about colonialism,” Magaxa said.
Maimane says the DA is focusing on its own processes and not on the ANC’s plans.
“What the ANC in the Western Cape wants to do is their business. All I’ve said is I want this matter
to be discussed at the federal executive and the process to be sped up,” he said. “What the ANC does? They can do whatever they want to do, really.”