Date set for Zille legislature snap debate


Helen Zille. (File)

Helen Zille. (File)

Cape Town – The Western Cape legislature speaker has approved the ANC’s request for a snap debate on Premier Helen Zille’s views on colonialism.

The debate will be held next week Tuesday March 28 at 14:15 and will take precedence over the usual programme for the provincial legislature, in Wale Street, provincial government spokesperson Matthys Odendal said on Wednesday.

“The Speaker deemed this request to be of sufficient public importance to warrant a debate over and above the normal parliamentary programme,” he said.

ANC acting provincial chairperson and leader of the opposition in the legislature, Khaya Magaxa, wrote to Speaker Sharna Fernandez to ask for the urgent debate after Zille tweeted last week that not all aspects of colonialism were bad.

In an article she wrote for the Daily Maverick, Zille explained that the comments were in the context of a business trip to Singapore which had got her thinking about that country’s post-colonialism recovery.

What set her off was not being able to find the TV remote at OR Tambo International Airport’s protocol lounge while waiting for her flight to Cape Town, and a battle to find milk for her tea, given the apparent high standards of Singapore.

When the Twitter backlash started, she tweeted: “Getting onto an aeroplane now and won’t get onto the Wi-Fi so that I can cut off those who think EVERY aspect of colonial legacy was bad.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane quickly tweeted:

“Let’s make this clear: Colonialism, like Apartheid, was a system of oppression and subjugation. It can never be justified.”

— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) March 16, 2017

Zille apologised for offence the tweet may have caused, but it was enough for the party to institute the first stages of possible disciplinary procedures.

On Saturday afternoon, the party will interview her and send a report to its federal executive, which will recommend whether a disciplinary panel should take it further.

The ANC welcomed Fernandez’s decision because it believed the DA turned a blind eye to what Zille did.

The ANC believed that if the DA continued protecting Zille, the party would be brought down.