Public Protector Mkhwebane does not understand constitution - Zille

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Helen Zille's tweet about colonialism amounted to incitement of violence.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Helen Zille's tweet about colonialism amounted to incitement of violence.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVUIphotory

Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Wednesday that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane did not understand the constitution.

Zille was reacting to Mkhwebane’s findings that found her controversial tweet about colonialism in 2017 had violated the constitution and breached the Executive Members Ethics Code.

Speaking to the constitutional implications of the ruling‚ Zille said: “I will be taking it on review … because the Public Protector clearly doesn’t understand the constitution or the law and it is incredibly important for us to protect the constitution and the values and principles in it.”

She was speaking to CapeTalk radio on Wednesday morning.

Explaining further‚ she said the Bill of Rights allowed free speech but not if it amounted to incitement to imminent violence. “For example‚ ‘Kill the boer’ has been ruled as hate speech by our courts.”

But‚ she added‚ Moeletsi Mbeki had said before that Africa was actually better under colonialism. Julius Malema had said that transport‚ infrastructure and hospitals were better under apartheid but when she spoke of the legacy of colonialism“there is this national meltdown and the Public Protector concludes that I’m inciting people to imminent violence.”

“Now that can’t stand because every time anybody says something that someone else misinterprets and feels aggrieved by‚ they could be thought to be encouraging imminent violence. And that will have a very profound impact on freedom of speech and debate in this country.”

In March 2017‚ Zille posted on Twitter: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative‚ think of our independent judiciary‚ transport‚ infrastructure‚ piped water.”

Her tweet caused outrage‚ resulting in the leadership of the DA announcing her suspension. The party continues to distance itself from the tweet.

Zille said her legal team was drawing up papers to take the ruling on review. Having read through the Public Protector’s report‚ she said: “ (Mkhwebane) clearly just either didn’t understand my responses to her questions or she ignored them. It’s as simple as that.”

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