Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will be served a notice of suspension from the Democratic Alliance (DA) for tweets she posted on colonialism.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane made the announcement on Saturday following a meeting of the party’s Federal Executive, saying: “This has not been an easy decision”.
Although Zille has been suspended from all party activities, she remains premier of the Western Cape. The party has not suspended her from her position.
The matter has been before the DA’s Federal Legal Commission for more than two months.
The reason the party took long to take action against Zille, Maimane said, is because the party had attempted to settle the issue using other avenues.
This included asking Zille to apologise for her Twitter comments, which she refused to do.
“As the Leader of the party, it is up to me to rebuild public trust. In this regard, I asked Ms Zille to tender an unreserved apology to both South Africa and the DA for the damage she has done. Unfortunately, she declined,” Maimane said.
Zille made comments on her Twitter account in March saying colonialism is not “only negative” following a trip to Singapore. The post drew public outrage and a complaint was laid with the South African Human Rights Commission.
The party began investigating and said that Zille had violated its social media policy. Maimane has personally distanced himself from the tweets and said that Zille’s comments have pushed the party into ill-repute among South Africans.
The decision to suspend Zille came after she continued to defend her colonialism comments in opinion pieces and follow-up tweets.
“In this period, Ms Zille has continued to damage the party with various pieces of communication that seek to undermine what we are trying to achieve,” Maimane said.
The party has taken much swifter action against Mbali Ntuli, a DA member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature. Ntuli was among the first to criticise Zille for her tweets from within the party.
The DA announced disciplinary hearings against her almost immediately after she allegedly liked a Facebook post that accused Zille of being racist.
Zille will remain suspended from party activities until the disciplinary hearings against her conclude.
At the time that Maimane made the announcement, Zille was attending an event in Mitchell’s Plein, Cape Town in her official capacity as premier.