DA suspends Helen Zille

In a statement late on Wednesday, DA FedEx chairperson James Selfe said that the decision was taken by an overwhelming majority of the committee, following Zille's submissions as to why she should not be suspended.

The DA says Zille's tweets on colonialism have damaged the party's reputation in the public mind, but moving forward under the leadership of its leader Mmusi Maimane that damage could be rectified.

The party however issued a statement stating the former leader's suspension was... well, suspended. "We live in a fragile democracy which means our public representatives must, at all times, be sensitive to the legitimate anger that people still feel about our past and its legacy". In the 2016 local government elections under Maimane's leadership the DA clinched several additional councils and, in co-operation with other political parties, governs in South Africa's economic powerhouse of Johannesburg, the administrative capital Pretoria and in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the heart of the Eastern Cape's economy. "All of his previous good faith attempts have thus far been to no avail", Selfe said.

Her disciplinary hearing will begin in earnest on Friday, where she will appear before the party's disciplinary panel.

"Helen Zille has continued to damage the party with communication that seeks to undermine what we are trying to achieve".

Zille could not be reached on Wednesday.

The statement said: The logic of our democratic system means the people voted for the DA and not Helen Zille.

The Western Cape Premier says she imagines it would be hard now for her to have a free and fair disciplinary process. "The question is, during the suspension who is Helen Zille representing and where is she taking such a mandate from?"

"I can not be bullied into resigning or incriminating myself".

Selfe referred questions to the Federal Legal Commission (FLC) in the event she is found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute.

She told News24 on Monday that her party has not been following protocol in her disciplinary proceedings.

The party was taking action against Zille for social media comments that the legacy of colonialism was "all negative", and subsequent blog posts where she defended her view, and expanded on it.

"The right of audi alteram partem [to listen to the other side] is central to the concept of natural justice".

The DA said it could not remove Zille as Western Cape premier because voters have elected her into that position.

Zille has a solid backing in certain circles of the DA, particularly in the Western Cape and Cape Town, but also nationally and has remained influential even after announcing just before the 2015 DA congress she was not up for re-election.

"Her public fightback, playing the race card and even tainting her party as anti-white has dragged her, her party and the Western Cape to a shameful low point", Magaxa said.

  • Leroy Wright