Helen Zille's tweets aren't going to go away anytime soon.
The Western Cape Premier tweeted in apparent support of aspects of colonialism on Thursday and now faces calls for her resignation and for her party the Democratic Alliance (DA) to toughen up and discipline her. Her sort-of apology soon after her tweets merely inflamed the situation.
News24 reported that the African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for her to be recalled as premier.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Zille apologised for the "hurt" her comments may have caused, so she was apologising "not because she thinks her idea that aspects of colonialism were not bad is wrong" but because it might hurt others. "No one, from a public office of our hard won constitutional democratic state must be allowed to freely express such cold hearted racism," said Ndlozi.
"This is what Helen Zille truly is; a cold hearted racist who believes that colonialism, which was crime against the humanity of black people, is not a bad thing."
National ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said Zille's tweet was "nothing short of the type of posture you would expect from a colonial apologist", said News24. "It is deeply saddening and troubling that we still have in our midst leaders who, on the one side swear by the very Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, yet on the other still harbour such deep seated views that venerate in whatever degree the unjust system of exploitation, subjugation and oppression as colonialism was and continues to be."
Zille's own party took a step away from her, saying the matter was referred to the party's disciplinary structures and giving some indication of their own disagreement.
This was DA leader Mmusi Maimane's response, which Zille retweeted:
Let's make this clear: Colonialism, like Apartheid, was a system of oppression and subjugation. It can never be justified.— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) March 16, 2017
But some criticised Maimane as being too soft.
After some discussion, Maimane confirmed to Eusebius McKaiser on 702 that the tweets were a problem.
The DA's mayor of Midvaal in Gauteng, Bongani Baloyi, and DA national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme tried a little damage control:
Colonialism was a crime against humanity. There isn't a single aspect of it that can be said to be positive or beneficial to Africans.— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) March 16, 2017