CAPE TOWN, March 16 (ANA) – Western Cape Premier and former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille came under fire on Thursday over her controversial remarks that colonialism had brought positive effects as well.
Zille had earlier tweeted: “Getting onto an aeroplane now and won’t get onto the Wi-Fi so that I can cut off those who think EVERY aspect of colonial legacy was bad.
“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc,” she wrote.
The African National Congress (ANC), both national and provincial, immediately called for the DA to recall her. This was echoed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions
The national ANC said it was “appalled” but not surprised by Zille’s remarks and called her a “colonial apologist”.
“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.”
The party said Zille’s views in the year when the country marks the 20th Anniversary of the Constitution and during March when human rights are celebrated, including Human Rights Day on March 21, “exposes her disregard for universal human rights, undermines efforts at social cohesion and are a threat to the strides that have been made in the last two decades to foster a society founded on human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms”.
The ANC said that if the DA was truly committed to building a non-racial, non-sexist and equal society and if it was honest about acknowledging colonialism and apartheid systems for what they were – a crime against humanity – then nothing short of recalling Hellen Zille would send a stronger message that there was no place in democratic South Africa for leaders that were apologists for such cruel and unjust systems.
The ANC in the Western Cape said Zille’s version of history and her place in it had always been circumspect because it “has never corresponded to what we know of her”.
“Zille lived in a white enclave which gives her the confidence to remake the world from the whole cloth and this will prove to be her most lasting matrimony.
“The truth is that Zille, like most of white South Africa pre-1994, never really gave black people much thought. Contacts with black people were kept at a minimum; When black people appear at all in Zille memories, it seems our images are fleeting, we appeared only as hired hands. Black people taking on white people’s laundry or cleaning up their homes. Black people were there but not there. We seemed to be a silent presence that neither elicited passion nor fear.”
Cosatu said it “rejects and strongly condemns the senseless and thoughtless” statements by Zille that colonialism wasn’t all bad.
“This ranks as one of the stupidest things that she has said, but Cosatu is not surprised by her sheer blatancy and unpardonable statements.
“Colonialism was not about civilising the natives as she seems to suggest but was about subjugating and killing our people and plundering the resources of our continent. This period represented a dark and painful past for black people and these kinds of statements are an insult to many black heroes and heroines, who shed blood to fight colonialism and apartheid.”
– African News Agency (ANA)