DA leaders distance themselves from Zille's tweet on racist laws

John Steenhuisen, the Democratic Alliance's interim leader distanced himself and the party from Helen Zille’s tweet.
John Steenhuisen, the Democratic Alliance's interim leader distanced himself and the party from Helen Zille’s tweet.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has sought to distance himself and the party from Helen Zille’s controversial tweet claiming there are some laws in democratic South Africa that are worse than those under apartheid.

Zille, who currently serves as the DA’s federal chairperson, raised eyebrows this week when she claimed that “there are more racist laws today than there were under apartheid”.

Steenhuisen on Tuesday night told SowetanLIVE that he does not agree with Zille.

“Helen made the comment that there are more racist laws now than there were under apartheid. This is not true, and I can’t see any evidence for it,” he said.

According to the interim leader, he spoke to Zille following which the tweet will be checked to see if it was in line with party regulations.

“I have today [Tuesday] had a conversation with her directly and expressed my views on the matter. Helen has referred her tweet to the party structures to determine whether she has breached any rules or regulations of the party."

It was not immediately clear which party structures the tweet was referred to.

Zille is a strong Steenhuisen ally and her return to the higher echelons of power emboldened him and his ambitions to get elected as DA leader at the party’s conference in October.

However, Steenhuisen sought to distance himself and the party from her views, declaring that “South Africa is an infinitely better, more just and humane society now than it was under apartheid”.

Other DA leaders including Mbali Ntuli, who is contesting Steenhuisen for the position of party leader, and member of parliament Siviwe Gwarube also distanced themselves from Zille’s views.

Ntuli said she had long expressed her views on Zille and went on to say that perhaps it was time she retired.

“Helen should be thanked for her service and retire now, no?,” Ntuli said.

Commenting on Twitter, Gwarube said” No, apartheid – a legalised system that institutionalised racism, saw thousands get imprisoned/die at the hands of the state, declared a crime against humanity – can never be compared with democratic SA, no matter how much is wrong with DA today. I don’t hold view Mna [me]”.

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