DURBAN – KZN DA leaders have called on the party to deal with outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for her controversial tweets on “black privilege”, saying her statements were highly offensive.
Her recent controversy has also led to a conversation on whether Zille was looking to start her own “think-tank” organisation that addressed hypocrisy and double standards in South Africa.
The online engagement started on Friday after Zille commented on a viral video, posted by a Twitter user, of an American poet ruminating about so-called “white privilege”.
Responding to the tweet, Zille questioned why the black speaker in the video was speaking English to express her views, which soon became the catalyst for a tirade of comments by the politician on #BlackPrivilege.
Zille alleged that “black privilege is being able to loot a country and steal hundreds of billions and get re-elected” and that “whiteness is a swear word used to stigmatise and marginalise”.
Responding to questions from The Mercury on Sunday, a defiant Zille said she would not apologise for her comments.
This was after former public protector Thuli Madonsela asked her to withdraw her comment and apologise.
Asked for a response, KZN DA leaders described Zille’s comments as “offensive”.
Provincial DA leader Zwakele Mncwango said corruption had no race, adding that he was offended and insulted by Zille’s tweets.
“We cannot align black privilege with corruption. Looking at the Zondo Commission, it clearly shows that corruption has no race.
“We cannot deny that corruption is happening in our country, but we cannot say that it is happening because a Black person is governing the country,” he said.
Mncwango said the mistake that was taking place was a comparison between black and white privilege in South Africa, saying that it was incomparable.
With regards to Zille, Mncwango said he had raised his views internally with the party and would wait for the DA to deal with her.
DA provincial campaigns director Mbali Ntuli, who has had run-ins with Zille in the past and faced charges of bringing the party into disrepute after she liked a Facebook post calling Zille a racist, was hailed on Twitter for taking a stand against Zille.
Not missing a beat, Ntuli tweeted in a three-part response.
“1) It shouldn’t need saying but if you’re a politician having the right to offend doesn’t mean you have to do so just for the sake of it. If you’re a politician & don’t understand that voters vote mostly based on their feelings about you then you’re a * *** poor politician.
“2) So don’t cause unnecessary offence and be an a******e, and then try to hide behind free speech and liberalism like we all didn’t do Politics 101. Yes we get it you can offend but then don’t cry when you’re punished at the polls for being a d***.
“3) It’s clear which politicians don’t actually engage with the masses and are on the ground. It’s always the ones who are tone deaf & when criticised can’t take it and label their critics as too woke or snowflakes or sensitive. Nah we just tired of people in power acting the fool.”
Ntuli refused to comment further, saying that she had expressed her views well-enough on Twitter.
She was not the only DA leader to hit back at Zille, as former councillor Warwick Chapman added his voice to the online conversation.
“Just because you have a protected right to say something that you believe, even if it offends, doesn’t mean that you should.
“Especially if you are a representative of a plural political party that is trying to win support from more South Africans.”
On Sunday afternoon, Zille tweeted to Madonsela “I’d like to share a bit of my own history. As I said. Let’s have tea.”
Zille went on to say that she was “sick to death of racial hypocrisy and double standards” in the country, adding that she would no longer support double standards.
“People can run around all day making the most outrageous racial generalisations about a tiny minority in this country by stigmatising ‘whiteness’, and the sky falls in when you give them a taste of their own medicine,” she tweeted.
Political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni said the growing sentiment that Zille was not respectful of DA leader Mmusi Maimane was confirmed by her latest online saga and refusal to apologise.
“The problems of her private articulations on Twitter are beginning to reveal and undo the work she has done. It looks like she is not respectful to the person who has to take the process forward and the DA seems to be unable to take her on,” he said.
Fikeni said that there was no doubt that the DA suffered from “race stigma” and, if it was not resolved, the damage would continue.
“We have already seen their support fall in the recent elections and these sentiments are what caused it,” he said.