Zille says colonialism can’t be compared to holocaust

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on Wednesday repeated her defence of her controversial comments on colonialism.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on Wednesday

Zille said she is not clinging to power‚ but merely “fulfilling” her voters’ mandate.

Speaking on Power FM on Wednesday‚ the former Democratic Alliance leader said it makes “complete sense” for her to finish her term as premier.


This comes after the DA announced at the weekend that it had given her a notice of possible suspension following a series of tweets in March in which she discussed the advantages of colonialism.

She was given until 5pm on Tuesday to submit reasons why she should not be suspended‚ pending a disciplinary hearing about the tweets.

Zille said she had unreservedly apologised for the tweets and that those who say she is “unrepentant” were her party’s political opponents.

Zille refused to be drawn into comparing colonialism and the holocaust‚ saying the two were different.

“There is a big difference between genocide and colonialism. The holocaust was a deliberate attempt to murder 11-million people. There is a difference between colonialism and a deliberate genocidal project‚” she said in response to a question posed by the interviewer.

“History is horrific… The big question is what you do with the legacy and how you build a future.

“In my travels around the world‚ I have been amazed with some countries’ capacity‚ despite horrific events in the past‚ to mobilise in the present and build a future and that is what we need to do here.”

Zille had said on Twitter: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative‚ think of our independent judiciary‚ transport infrastructure‚ piped water.”

On Power FM‚ she was asked if she had not thought about “walking away”.

“Two years ago‚ I did walk away from the leadership of the DA when I had been nominated for another term. I walked away because it was time for the DA to have a black leader‚” she said.

“I am fulfilling the voters’ mandate. I have two years left and there is nothing unprincipled about fulfilling the voters’ mandate. Everyone knows I don’t cling to power. I’m certainly not power hungry. I walked away voluntarily when I was going to have no opposition for the party leadership.”

Zille refuted claims that she is undermining Mmusi Maimane’s leadership.

She said her party has recently done well in the polls‚ despite rumours that her tweets have caused damage to the party.

“The only test of voter response is actually elections and we’ve had two spectacular by-election results.”

Asked if it does not worry her that people think she is a racist‚ Zille said: “It’s very easy in South Africa to throw around words like racist and it’s a very serious accusation.

“To say the legacy of colonialism was not only negative has nothing to do with racism.

“In every colonised country‚ people have had to deal with the legacy. I have said … colonialism is abominable and terrible and cannot be defended and much of its legacy is bad.”

Zille maintained that there are aspects of the legacy of colonialism that can be “repurposed”.

“Those tweets were about Singapore and how amazingly they repurposed their legacy. It has nothing to do with racism.”

She said being labelled a racist was a lazy way of analysing her tweets.

Nomahlubi Jordaan


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