At a press conference on Saturday afternoon in Kempton Park, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced that Western Cape premier Helen Zille has been suspended from all party activities over her refusal to apologise for her tweets about colonialism.
She remains the premier for now.
Maimane said that he had spoken to Zille at length to find a solution to the problem, but Zille had made public pronouncements in the wake of controversial tweets stating that the legacy of colonialism was not all bad that had done further damage to the DA and its project of appealing to more black voters.
He said that unseating the ANC from power in 2019 was the most important thing to focus on for the sake of the country and constitutionalism.
He said the DA would continue to focus on its core values and message of hope for South Africa.
Maimane said the DA’s Federal Executive had carefully considered Zille’s disciplinary case.
“In order that we focus our organisation on building one nation, I have spent countless times trying to resolve the matter that pertains to Premier Helen Zille using all available means.
“It has become clear that Premier Zille and I hold fundamentally different views about the direction the Democratic Alliance needs to accomplish in 2019 and the goals and the priorities … Ms Zille’s views and statements on colonialism are views that I do not support and I believe without doubt undermine the reconciliation project.
“There is no question that those original tweets and, in fact, subsequent justifications were things that I found personally deeply offensive, and I believe were offensive to many South Africans, and are damaging to the respective project that we are trying to build.
He said the history and context of “certain issues” needed to be understood “if we are going to build our dialogue”.
Maimane reiterated that he did not believe Zille was a racist. “She’s a South African who’s contributed, and contributed greatly to our nation.”
However, she had not been sensitive to the legitimate anger shown at her views.
He had therefore asked her to tender an unreserved apology to the nation, but “she has declined this request”, and had continued to damage the party with “pieces of information”.
The Federal Executive had therefore resolved to suspend her “from all party-related activity until such a time as the disciplinary hearing is concluded”.