/ 3 June 2017

Zille hits back: DA didn’t abide by policy when it suspended me

DA leader Helen Zille.
DA leader Helen Zille.

Mere hours after being suspended from party activities, Helen Zille has responded to the Democratic Alliance (DA) saying it has no right to suspend her.

Zille released a statement following an announcement by DA leader Mmusi Maimane just after noon on Saturday which stated that she had been suspended from party activities. She remains, however, the Western Cape premier.

In her statement, Zille says the party failed to comply with Section 3.6.3 of its federal constitution. According to Zille, the section allows her to state her case before she can face suspension.

She says that a letter for chairperson of the DA’s federal executive James Selfe gives her until June 6 to respond to allegations against her.

“In his letter, Mr Selfe has given me until June 6 to provide reasons why I should not be suspended until the outcome of my disciplinary hearing,” Zille says.

“Mr Maimane’s statement is unequivocal that the suspension is already operative,” she continued.

Zille has been suspended following more than two months of investigations by the DA’s Federal Legal Commission. The probe came after Zille posted tweets in March saying colonialism was not “only negative”. She faced mass public outrage, and Maimane admitted that the DA’s integrity has been affected in public as a result.

The announcement from Maimane and the response from Zille demonstrate further tensions developing between the two. Maimane said that Zille had refused to apologise for the tweets, but she contradicted this in her statement.

“It is not correct that I have refused to apologise. I have apologised publicly. What I have not agreed to do is plead charges to misconduct which I never committed,” she said.

Zille further urges the DA to follow the rule of its own law.

The tweets she posted have been reported to the South African Human Rights Commission and she has been asked to step down by many South Africans.

Zille still retains support, however. Her statement suggests that she believes the DA is attempting to incriminate or seek her resignation unfairly.

“I cannot be bullied into resigning or incriminating myself,” she said.

Following the backlash against her, Zille has publicly defended her tweets in opinion pieces as well as on Twitter.