ANC MP Derek Hanekom and Western Cape premier Helen Zille got dragged on Twitter on Wednesday after they both had a heated debate over a damning high court judgment that found Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had violated the constitution.
Zille’s controversial tweets on colonialism, which landed her in hot water last year, also featured in the Twitter war.
The drama all started when Zille tweeted a link to an article about the DA lodging a formal complaint with the office of the Public Protector over a December ruling by Pretoria High Court Judge Neil Tuchten, who found that Gigaba’s claim that he never gave approval to Fireblade Aviation – owned by the Oppenheimer family – to establish a VIP facility at OR Tambo International Airport during a meeting in January 2016 was false when he was the then minister of home affairs.
Although the judgment went under the radar, Judge Tuchten found that Gigaba had violated the constitution by lying under oath and denied him the right to appeal an October 2017 judgment by the same court that ruled in favour of Fireblade Aviation.
The DA on Wednesday got hold of the judgment and the appeal denial shortly before Gigaba delivered his budget speech in parliament and circulated the unfavourable court findings on social media.
Zille first tweeted: “Ladies and Gentleman, this is the man responsible for safeguarding the national purse.”
Ladies and Gentleman, this is the man responsible for safeguarding the national purse:https://t.co/sAwdMQPqcw
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) February 21, 2018
Hanekom got riled up over the statement and called on Zille to resign after reminding her of her tweets in defence of colonialism.
“This is the person who thinks colonialism isn’t all that bad. Do us a favour Helen – do what our former President [Jacob Zuma] did,” he tweeted in response.
True to her Twitter reputation, Zille did not let the criticism lie. She fired back at Hanekom and accused him of being a troll.
She tweeted: “You are misrepresenting what I said entirely and you know it, you troll. There is a difference between colonialism and it’s LEGACY. And there is a difference between saying something is not ONLY negative compared to saying it isn’t ‘all that bad’. You know it, but are desperate [sic].”
You are misrepresenting what I said entirely and you know it, you troll. There is a difference between colonialism and it's LEGACY. And there is a difference between saying something is not ONLY negative compared to saying it isn't "all that bad". You know it, but are desperate.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) February 21, 2018
Even though Zille apologised last year for creaing a racial storm after the DA federal executive started disciplinary proceedings against her, the premier seems to have courted more controversy earlier this month when she tweeted again in defence of colonialism.
She suggested that citizens affected by the drought in Cape Town had imperialism to thank for piped water. Her comments angered many Twitter users and reignited calls for her to resign from office. The DA reportedly sent her a letter warning her to stay away from tweeting about colonialism.
Publisher Palesa Morudu slated both Hanekom and Zille, saying the MP took a cheap shot at Zille while her response to Hanekom was stupid and backward.
“Derek really! Your minister of finance lied in court under oath and you are taking a cheap shot at Helen? He lied under oath. She sent a stupid backward tweet,” she tweeted.
Another Twitter user, Jens Eggers, said Hanekom should stop with his “intellectual dishonesty”. Writer Dineke Volschenk simply tweeted “cheap shot, Derek”.
Read the Twitter thread below:
Derek really! Your minister of finance lied in court under oath and you are taking a cheap shot at Helen? He lied under oath. She sent a stupid backward tweet.
— Palesa Morudu (@palesa_morudu) February 21, 2018
It’s very sad to see @Derek_Hanekom stoop to such intellectual dishonesty. I imagine he knows better but something else is a stronger motivation. Mirrors the gangster state in a small way.
— Jens Eggers (@JensEggersZA) February 22, 2018
True shot, Dineke. She repeatedly embarrasses her own Party. https://t.co/7Nd1jcC84Z
— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) February 21, 2018
Cheap shot ya sebono. Y'all think you can just decide to wake up and assume that colonialism is some kind of a romantic event. pic.twitter.com/I209ADB2b8
— Mashomane 🇲🇼🇰🇪🇿🇦 (@twieterazzi) February 21, 2018
Derek, whataboutery is for those who lost the argument. Rather adress the fact that you and the ANC continue to support mediocrity, incompetence and corruption.
— No Pot Of Gold (@NoPotOfGold) February 22, 2018
— Gregory Harington (@AskGregory) February 22, 2018