DA suspends Helen Zille from party activities though she remains premier

Zille can only be removed as premier by means of a motion of no confidence tabled at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. (Gallo)

Zille can only be removed as premier by means of a motion of no confidence tabled at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. (Gallo)

The Federal Executive of the Democratic Alliance has decided by an “overwhelming majority” to suspend Helen Zille from party activities.

The suspension of the western premier was announced on Wednesday following a meeting of the Federal Executive in the morning.

Zille faces disciplinary action following a series of tweets she posted in March saying that colonialism was not “only negative”.
Federal Executive Chairman James Selfe said in a statement on Wednesday that Zille’s tweets on colonialism “breaks down public trust”.

“There is no question that Ms Zille’s original tweets and subsequent justifications have damaged our standing in the public mind,” Selfe said.

The announcement comes after Zille made a submission on Tuesday to state why she should not be suspended. She received a notice of the party’s intent to suspend her over the weekend and was give 72 hours to respond.

The tweets have heightened friction between DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Zille. Maimane reported the tweets to the DA’s Federal Legal Commission and an investigation commenced. Zille has been accused of violated the party’s social media policy.

On Saturday, Maimane announced Zille had officially been suspended. Zille hit back, saying she had a right to defend herself against suspension. Shortly after, the DA released a statement saying Zille had not yet been suspended.

Despite being unable to now participate in party activities, Zille is still Western Cape Premier. She can only be removed from that position is a motion of no confidence is tabled at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature and a majority of MPLs vote for her removal.

Selfe said that Maimane had made every attempt to resolve the issue, but Zille had been unwilling.

“Mr Maimane has pursued every avenue to resolve this matter. All of his previous good faith attempts have thus far been to no avail,” Selfe said.

“In every effort he has made, Ms Zille has refused to take the appropriate action necessary to resolve this unfortunate and damaging matter,” he continued.

Zille’s suspension will, however, be temporary. The suspension will end once disciplinary hearing against her have concluded. The disciplinary hearing is set to take place on Friday.

Zille on Wednesday morning, remained steadfast that colonialism did have positive effects. She spoke on Power FM where she said that she should be allowed to serve out her remaining two years as Premier.

Her temporary suspension is effective immediately. 

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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