South Africa: Helen Zille Apologises for Racism Tweets

Helen Zille, former leader of South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), has publicly apologised for her tweets saying there were some positive aspects of colonialism.

She said her comments in March were "insensitive to South Africans". Ms Zille will step down from all party leadership positions but remain the premier of Western Cape province.

The row threatened the DA's popularity, which is trying to extend its appeal among black people. Party leader Mmusi Maimane said the deal will help DA focus on the 2019 general election.
DA Leader

He said the party chose to avoid a protracted legal battle and instead seek reconciliation. Ms Zille had tweeted that colonialism was not only negative. 

The comments caused public outrage forcing her to apologise at least three times with the DA bowing to political pressure to suspend her last week.

She said in an interview last week with BBC Focus on Africa that her comments on the legacy of colonialism were not any different to views expressed by among others, including former South African President Nelson Mandela and former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda.

She also said that similar views appear in textbooks used in South African schools. Ms Zille said in the interview that her critics had to be consistent in their criticism and should not victimise her.

But today at a press conference with Mr Maimane she said she apologised "unreservedly". Ms Zille read a prepared statement saying her comments were "indefensible" and "insensitive to South Africans who suffered from colonial oppression". - BBC


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