Newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille wants answers from outgoing Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba over his views about her.
On Tuesday, Zille shared on social media a screenshot of a tweet by Mashaba in which he defends her from criticism that she’s a racist.
Mashaba had tweeted, “In all the years I have known Helen Zille, including reading extensively about her beautiful life, anyone calling her racist is actually racist herself/himself.
“Helen is one those [South Africans] I personally hold with the highest esteem. I am proud of her as my fellow South African. Period.”
‘I wonder what changed?’
The Mayor posted the tweet in March this year, which prompted Zille to ask what had changed between then and now.
“Happy memories just 7 months ago. I wonder what changed? I sent you a warm WhatsApp after my election. Looking forward to your reply @HermanMashaba. Kind regards,” she wrote.
Zille didn’t stop there. In another tweet, she wondered if the Free Market Foundation held a conference in the whites-only town of Orania under his leadership.
Mashaba was the Foundation’s chairman before becoming Mayor. According to its website, it “foster an open society, the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom” based on classical liberal principles.
Affirmative action and BEE
Zille also retweeted an article Mashaba wrote in 2015 in which he spoke against “racial policies” such as affirmative action and Black economic empowerment (BEE).
In contrast, in his resignation speech on Monday, Mashaba criticised some in the DA for not acknowledging the role of race in South Africa’s economic challenges.
He said, “I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa in 2019.”
In her social media posts, Zille has sought to debunk Mashaba’s reported belief that she is part of “right-wing elements” taking over the DA.
She denied this in an interview with Power FM, “[Mashaba] has said that the party has taken a move to the right. That is totally not so, because we have exactly the same values and vision that we had when Herman Mashaba joined the DA.”
Mashaba had not yet reacted to Zille’s social media posts at the time of publishing.