Western Cape premier Helen Zille has apologised unreservedly for her controversial tweets on colonialism and escaped disciplinary action for bringing the Democratic Alliance (DA) into disrepute.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane, announced an agreement was reached between the DA’s federal executive and Zille, which will see her continue her duties as Premier but no longer participate in any DA decision making structures.
“This was not an easy decision,” Maimane said. “The alternative was to become embroiled in a protracted legal battle in the lead up to 2019 election. I have no doubt that would have done further damage to the project we have embarked on”.
In her apology Zille said: “I realise the wounds of history that my tweet and subsequent action have opened up. In particular I recognise that my actions were insensitive to South Africans who suffered under colonial oppression. For this I am genuinely sorry”.
Last week the party announced its decision to suspend Zille pending the outcome of her disciplinary hearing, citing concerns that she had continued to defend her colonialism statements and caused more harm to the party’s image.
Tuesday’s about turn follows threats of legal action by Zille who told the Mail & Guardian last week that she was taking legal advice on the matter.
The settlement is likely to draw harsh action from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which threatened to withdraw its support for the DA in Gauteng municipalities if Zille was not removed as premier.
While Zille has agreed to step down from the DA’s federal executive, the federal council and the provincial council she says she needs to remain a member of the Provincial Caucus in order to ensure that the DA can govern effectively.