13/06/2017 14:36 SAST | Updated 14/06/2017 06:14 SAST

ANC: Maimane Cannot Remove Racist Zille Because He Is A Puppet Leader

Helen Zille has stepped down from DA decision-making structures but will remain premier of the Western Cape.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille's decision to step down from decision-making structures within the DA but not as premier of the province is an "unprincipled, hypocritical and meaningless token," ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

Kodwa said in a press release on Tuesday that the deal reached in relation to Zille's views about colonialism was an "unadulterated defence of white supremacy and privilege."

Helen Zille in a press briefing on Tuesday morning apologised "unreservedly to the South African public" for her tweets on colonialism. DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Zille agreed it is in the "best interests of the party for her to vacate her position on all decision-making structures of the party".

She will continue to attend caucus meetings but from now will focus only on matters relating to governance in the Western Cape.

Zille said it is "appropriate that I stand down from these bodies and perhaps I should have done this long ago, but not the caucus because the caucus is essential to running a good [provincial] government". The caucus discusses DA policy in relation to legislation and what is being done in provincial government, she said, which "does not fall foul of the agreement we have reached".

'Maimane just a caretaker leader'
Shortly after the briefing, Kodwa said Maimane had no power to remove Zille because "he is not in charge and the party's funders have threatened to pull out if Zille is removed."

"Maimane is a caretaker leader, propped to make the party seem palatable to the black majority while nursing interest of the real leaders and guardians of the DA," he said.

Kodwa accused the DA of relying on a "carefully designed script prepared to appease the black majority" when the party's "real leaders [Zille] speak out of line".

He also said Zille is "guilty by all accounts of blatant racism" and was not fit to remain premier.

'I changed my mind'
Zille said she reconsidered her position on her colonialism tweets after discussions with Maimane and fellow members of the DA. "As everybody knows, I can hold a position very strongly and I can argue the case very determinately, but I'm not impervious to good, sound, rational argument because this is what all open minded people should be. This is exactly why I reconsidered it," she said.

Zille on Tuesday said colonialism and apartheid "subjugated and oppressed a majority and benefited a minority on the basis of race. This is indeed indefensible, and I do not support, justify, praise or promote it".

She said she realised how her tweets on colonialism, and the subsequent defence thereof, had opened "wounds of history".

"For this, I am genuinely sorry", she continued.

Going forward, Zille said her intention was to restore the public trust that had been eroded and to unite behind a shared vision for the DA under the leadership of Maimane.