Zille blames cartoon outrage on EFF ‘fake accounts’ after twar with Mpofu

Zille blames cartoon outrage on EFF ‘fake accounts’ after twar with Mpofu

Former DA leader Helen Zille at DA head office in Johanneburg, 20 October 2019, after she was elected the party's new Federal Council chairperson. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The DA federal council chairperson has been vocal in her suspicions that some of the outrage surrounding her tweets – including the ones on colonialism – is manufactured.

Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson Helen Zille believes the outrage surrounding a cartoon she shared on Twitter is “orchestrated” by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“A colleague told me that the EFF runs a botnet of around 11,000 fake accounts,” she said.

“If that is true, they would rival Bell Pottinger and it would explain all the orchestrated outrage based on deliberately misinterpreted tweets. Over and out,” she added.

The Citizen reported earlier on Monday that Zille felt she was being “willfully misrepresented” after her tweet including the cartoon by Jeremy ‘Jerm’ Nell, caused outrage on Sunday and Monday.

The cartoon, its author and Zille were accused of perpetuating stereotypes about black men being rapists, something they have both vehemently denied, Zille both to The Citizen and on her Twitter account, and Nell in a blog post.

Zille posted the allegations of an EFF “botnet” after clashing with the party’s former national chairperson, advocate Dali Mpofu, over the tweet.

Mpofu alleged that the tweet was just Zille being “honest” about the DA subscribing to “colonialism and apartheid denialism”.

“You know me well, Dali, and you know that none of what you allege is true,” Zille responded.

Mpofu, in response, said Zille’s message was “loud and tragically clear”.

READ MORE: Outrage at colonialism tweets ‘fake’, driven by Bell Pottinger-type network – Zille

According to the lawyer and EFF member, the cartoon’s message is that “the narrative of land dispossession, accompanied by racism [and] the mass murder of black people across our land [and] continent is a FALSE” and concocted “generalisation” similar to a “white man DELIBERATELY LYING about his wife’s rape”.

Zille differed with Mpofu over the cartoon’s meaning.

“No one can accuse another person of any crime on the basis of their race alone. That is the point of the cartoon. How hard is that for an advocate of the law to grasp?” she tweeted.

Zille has been vocal in her suspicions that some of the outrage surrounding her tweets was manufactured before.

She told Newzroom Afrika presenter Onkgopotse ‘JJ’ Tabane that she believed the backlash to her controversial tweets on colonialism was caused by a network of fake accounts and bots.

Zille said she spent R50,000 of her “own money” to have the social media storm she found herself in “analysed” and it was determined that the “vast majority” of the outrage was faked.

“I have spent a lot of money, R50,000 of my own money having that entire social media thing very closely dis-aggregated and analysed, and the vast majority of the outrage that was generated by that was by linked computers and fake accounts, bots and sockpuppets, driven by a kind of Bell Pottinger network,” she said.

Asked by her interviewer Onkgopotse ‘JJ’ Tabane why she publicly apologised for her tweets if the outrage surrounding them was faked, Zille said: “We didn’t know about it at the time.”

Zille also told Tabane in the interview that she believed “everything gets distorted and taken out of context” on social media.

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