5 Things You Didn’t Know About Helen Zille’s Colonialism Tweets

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The drama over Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s colonialism tweets about her admiration for aspects of colonialism seems not to be ending soon.

Her argument that colonialism was not only negative because it brought South Africa healthcare, piped water, roads and an independent judiciary left many concluding she might not have been aware that it was only after the end of colonialism and with the advent of democracy that a fully independent judiciary was established in South Africa.

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In succession, on March 15, she also posted these tweets before getting onto a flight that day.

  • Much to learn from Singapore, colonized for as long as SA, and under brutal occupation in WW2. Can we apply the lessons in our democracy?
  • Singapore had no natural resources and 50 years ago was poorer than most African countries. Now they soar. What are the lessons?
  • I think Singapore lessons are: 1) Meritocracy; 2) Multiculturalism; 3) Work ethic; 4) Open to globalism; 4) English. 5) Future orientation.
  • Other reasons for Singapore’s success: Parents take responsibility for children, and build on valuable aspects of colonial heritage.
  • For those claiming the legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.
  • Would we have had a transition into specialized health care and medication without colonial influence? Just be honest, please.
  • Getting onto an airplane 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.

Although Zille has since apologized for her initial tweets on colonialism but her party was in no way happy with the comments, leading to a heightened tension between her and Mmusi Maimane.



The DA leader subsequently referred Zille to the party disciplinary committee and the federal legal commission in March after he came under increasing pressure to act decisively against the controversial premier.

Five Things You Need To Know

  • The South African Human Rights Commission has served her papers on Friday following an investigation into the controversial colonialism tweet.
  • Zille received the papers from SAHRC provincial commissioner André Gaum, who buttressed that the investigation was as a result of several complaints from across the country.
  • The Western Cape premier was given 21 days to respond to the papers.
  • The complaint is not being investigated as hate speech rather as a potential violation of human dignity.
  • An adamant and ‘unrepentant’ Zille told reporters that ‘it’s cool’ if the SAHRC wishes to carry out more investigations into the matter.
  • The Democratic Alliance(DA) is yet to determine a date for her hearing, having been formally charged last month with bringing the DA into disrepute and damaging the party.

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Helen Zille is the former leader of Democratic Alliance (DA) political party and a former Mayor of Cape Town. She was towered over to limelight Zille after she exposed the truth behind the death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko while working for the Rand Daily Mail in late 1970 along with other journalists.

Zille was also an anti-apartheid activist. In 2008, she was selected as World Mayor of the Year, outshining over 800 other candidates.

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