Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Africa

Helen Zille's shelf life is over, says DA veteran

by City Press
05 Apr 2017 at 05:04hrs | Views
Helen Zille's shelf life is over, and it is time to retire, says DA veteran Douglas Gibson.

According to City Press, Gibson, a former DA chief whip until he was appointed as ambassador of Thailand in 2007, this week weighed in on the DA's internal turmoil as the party considered the future of its former leader.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane recently announced disciplinary proceedings would be taken against Zille over her controversial tweets on colonialism.

Gibson who first penned his thoughts on Facebook later told Media24 that he believed that Maimane did the right thing.

"I'm very irritated. South Africa is at a major crisis point. This debate is an absolute waste of time and energy at a time when we should be debating our future rather than how to make a better past."

Gibson said he had always supported Zille, before, during and after her leadership, and the whole issue saddens him.

"Much as it pains me to say so as someone who supported her before during and after her leadership, she does not realise that she has overstayed her shelf life. Time to retire. It is a rare quality in a leader to know when to go and while exercising your right to speak, you also exercise your right to keep quiet."

He said he didn't know or quite understand why she felt the merits of colonialism were relevant now.

"But this isn't an issue of freedom of expression. Of course she can say whatever she wants, but it has consequences."

He said the party's rules were applicable to everyone.

"Substitute the word apartheid for the word colonialism. Would a sensible senior politician be so tone deaf as to tweet that because of all the houses built in Soweto and because it gave us Sun City, apartheid had positive aspects? Some white people might agree; few black people would agree. Most people would see that as a defence of apartheid."

Gibson said that what irritated him the most about Zille's tweets was that she repeated them, even after unconditionally apologised.

He believed that Zille had said "unforgivable" things that had caused the DA a lot of damage.

He also referred to DA members who had aligned themselves with Zille and threatened to withdraw support from the party.

"Of course we do not want to lose a single supporter but if we insist on debates like this, we will certainly lose support."

Zille earlier apologised if she offended anyone, but during a debate in the Western Cape legislature recently again defended her tweets.

She reportedly said: "Of course colonialism had a diabolical impact worldwide, including South Africa. That was the very premise of my tweets. Anyone who read them without a personal or political agenda would have understood that. If you say the consequences of something were not only negative, you are saying most were negative."

Source - City Press