NEWS

Zille: 'I Have Been Profoundly Hurt'

Helen Zille questioned if the DA had even considered her defence before officially suspending her.

07/06/2017 20:06 SAST | Updated 07/06/2017 20:06 SAST
Sumaya Hisham / Reuters

Western Cape premier Helen Zille says party leader Mmusi Maimane and the DA's federal executive "pre-judged" her when arriving at their decision to suspend her from party duties.

The Democratic Alliance's highest decision making body decided by "an overwhelming majority" to officially suspend Zille on Wednesday until her disciplinary hearing is concluded.

"The Federal Executive agreed that Ms Zille's social media commentary and public utterances in connection with colonialism breaks down public trust, stunts South Africa's reconciliation imperative, and undermines our political project," DA federal chairperson James Selfe said in a statement.

This following Maimane's statement on Saturday that Zille had been given 72 hours to submit reasons why she should not be suspended.

In her reasons provided on Tuesday, Zille argued in nine pages that the party had already made its mind up about her suspension before she could provide a rebuttal.

She told News24 on Wednesday that she stands by everything she wrote following the party's announcement.

"In our leader's statement on [Saturday], he announced that the Fedex had taken a decision to suspend me. This contradicted the contents of your letter to me, which gave me until 6 June to respond to the notice of Fedex's intention to suspend me," she said in her reasons.

"When I pointed this out, the announcement by our leader was amended to say I would be given 72 hours to respond, and that I had NOT in fact been suspended.

"It is clear, however, that he has pre-judged and taken a decision to suspend me."

She said a Sunday Times article on June 4 indicated the Federal Executive had already voted and made a decision on her suspension, before her reasons could be submitted on June 6.

"This initial material failure to comply with due process has serious implications. The leader has, in a public statement, made it clear that he wants me suspended and has already decided to suspend me."

This put the Fedex in an "impossible position" to make an objective determination, whatever the merits of her arguments against suspension.

"In any event, Fedex has equally compromised itself on this decision."

'I did apologise'
She also said she had apologised on two occasions for the tweets, both on Twitter and also in the Western Cape legislature, which Maimane made no reference to in his statement on Saturday.

"Whilst I have been profoundly hurt by the way this matter has been handled by Fedex and the unfounded accusations that are being levelled against me by the leadership currently, which I can only style as a vindictive and personal campaign against me, I have no intention of participating on a DA Fedex or Federal Council under current circumstances.

"As the leader knows, I have asked him, before every Fedex since this issue arose, whether he would prefer me to absent myself. When he answered in the affirmative, I stayed away in order to make matters easier for him.

"I would be grateful if Fedex and the leadership portray this decision as being what it is: an honest attempt by me, and at my initiative, to save the party any further reputational damage, cost or time wastage."

She said she hoped an unbiased FedEx re-applied its mind to the situation based on her reasons, to come to a different conclusion.

She was also critical that the FedEx had been convened so soon after she submitted her reasons at 5pm on Tuesday, questioning the time it could have had to consider her response.

Read the full nine-page reasons here.