The Democratic Alliance (DA) has suspended Helen Zille, for real this time.
The party made the announcement on Wednesday after the Western Cape Premier submitted her document stating why she should not be suspended. She was given 72 hours to make this submission to the Federal Executive Committee (Fedex) of the DA.
Zille's nine-page response was shared in this Google Drive by Zille's spokesperson, Michael Mpofu. In the first part of her response, Zille points out that the decision by DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, to announce a suspension and then withdrawing that to indicate she had been given to 72 hours to respond, undermined the fairness of the disciplinary process.
Zille called the whole process a "sham" saying it was clear Fedex decided she would be suspended before she could even state why she should not be.
These are some of the arguments Zille stated for why she did not deserve to be suspended for her colonialism tweets.
1. There are no grounds for the suspension
Zille said there is absolutely no reason why she should be suspended as she did not do anything to stop the disciplinary process from moving forward. She said if she was supposed to be suspended it should have been done in April. Zille cites a quote by the Fedex chair, James Selfe, where he said there were no grounds for her suspension.
"Selfe also rubbished criticism Zille should have been suspended pending the outcome of the disciplinary process, saying "people in the DA are only suspended if there is a realistic prospect that they will interfere with an investigation or interfere with witnesses. Neither of these apply in respect of Ms Zille."
Zille said she hadn't done anything to interfere with any witnesses since that statement by Selfe.
"The contention that a different set of criteria will apply now because it is a suspension from 'party structures' holds no water either legally or rationally."
2. She has not brought the party into disrepute, everyone else has done that
Zille said any reputational damage to the party has been caused by the party itself.
"My original tweets, in a conversation about lessons from Singapore, were not in any way intended to harm the party, nor in any objective reading of them, could they be interpreted as doing so. It was the subsequent misinterpretation of my tweets as 'defending', 'glorifying' or 'justifying' colonialism that caused the damage."
Zille said all she has done is defend herself and try to stop misinformation and misinterpretation of her tweets. Zille added that she adhered to a letter from Maimane asking her to "desist from public comment", saying any responses made have been approved by the Fedex and Maimane.
She said she has allowed her defamation to continue without a word while other prominent members of the party are permitted to discuss the matter. She has been harmed and the party has been harmed, but not by her.
3. Suspension is punishment for not resigning
Zille said she made it clear she will not be resigning and this led to the party delaying in giving her information that would help her prepare for her case. She says the Fedex then decided to suspend her and she thinks this is punishment because she did not resign.
Zille said she would not resign or apologise because it could result in the possibility of her expulsion.
"It would also have serious implications for two other litigation processes that my office is currently engaged in opposing. I clearly cannot be expected to incriminate myself in that way, especially in the light of the precedent set by the party in a previous case," Zille said.
She added she has "done nothing to breach her oath of office as Premier".
4. A suspension will do more harm than good in 2019
Zille said she needs to be able to caucus with her colleagues in the Western Province, otherwise they will be embarrassed in the legislature and suffer in the build-up to 2019.
"In addition, the successes that we have achieved in the province provide an excellent platform for our 2019 campaign. Excluding me from sharing this within the party and the public will, in fact, have a negative effect on the party's performance in 2019," Zille said.
5. Maimane used an off-the-record conversation to suspend Zille
Zille said the reasons stated by the Fedex are not complete, based on a statement by Maimane, saying the two of them hold "fundamentally different attitudes about the mission the DA needs to accomplish in 2019". This conversation was supposed to be off-the-record, Zille says. She said expressing a different view from the leader in a private conversation should not result in being suspended.
"The consequences of this are dire in a political party. If the perception [or even reality] of a difference of opinion can be used to suspend me, then we will shut down debate in the DA. No-one else will feel free to express a contrary opinion to that of the leader, or if they do, they stand the risk of the same thing happening to them."
6. Zille is not stirring up anything
Zille denied involvement in a motion set before the Western Cape Provincial Council, naming those who drafted and motivated for said motion. She said the Fedex told 702 radio presenter, Eusebius McKaiser, that she was being suspended to prevent her from "stirring things up". Zille said it is insulting to members of party structures to say that Zille's participation would affect the outcome of the motion.
"What you, in fact, are saying is that you are concerned that the people who proposed and motivated this motion, have the same views that I do, and need to be separated from me in order to ensure that they will fall in line with the Leader," Zile said.
She said this was further evidenced of Fedex clamping down on voices of dissent.
7. I apologised even though my tweets were misinterpreted
Again, Zille said her tweets were misunderstood. She says when she received a call from Maimane's chief of staff she was surprised by the interpretation and it was her intention to show this in her disciplinary. She also indicated that she said this in the urgent debate with the ANC.
Zille said Maimane wanted him to apologise with particular statements like "my tweets and subsequent defence and justification of them brought the party into disrepute". Zille said this would be a confession of wrongdoing and would "nullify her right to defence".
8. It is not true that Fedex is not legally bound to giving her time to submit representations
Zille pointed to the sections of the Federal Constitution that contradict this.
"Section 3.6.3 of the Federal Constitution obliges you to do so, and I submit that section 11.6.5 cannot remove that obligation, which is a basic requirement of fair administrative process."
Zille said she was already being excluded from party events before her suspension.
9. Zille could voluntarily abstain from Fedex or Federal Council meetings
If this would have made the disciplinary process easier, Zille was willing to voluntarily abstain from Fedex and Federal Council. She would however not find it fair to step down from provincial caucus and council as it is important for her to continue to provide "proactive leadership".