Former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has lost her bid to set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on her controversial tweets on colonialism.
On Tuesday, the High Court in Pretoria dismissed Zille’s application with costs, which will apply up to the point she ceased being Premier.
Acting Judge Malebo Habedi ruled that the application was “moot and academic” because Mkhwebane’s remedial action could no longer be applied against Zille.
‘Insufficient grounds for review’
Mkhwebane had directed the Western Cape provincial legislature to “take action” against Zille, but she retired as Premier after this year’s May elections while the matter was still in the courts.
The judge further ruled that despite the matter being moot, Zille had still failed to establish sufficient grounds for review of the report.
Zille got into trouble in 2018 by tweeting, “For those claiming colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport, infrastructure, piped water etc.”
Khaya Magaxa, a Western Cape member of provincial legislature, filed a complaint against her with the Public Protector.
He argued that by posting the tweet, Zille had “failed to act in a manner that was consistent with the integrity of the high office she occupied.”
In her report, Mkhwebane found that the ex-Premier had violated the Executive Ethics Code and that her tweets “celebrated the oppression, exploitation, racism and poverty which were the direct result of the legacy of colonialism.”
Zille strongly disagreed with Mkhwebane’s findings and launched the court bid to review them, but has now lost. It’s unclear at this stage if she will file an appeal.
Mkhwebane welcomes ruling
In a statement, Mkhwebane welcomed the ruling. She said, “I’m pleased with the judgement. I continue to call on Members of the Executive, both at national and provincial levels, to take time and understand the provisions of the EMEA and the Code of Ethics.”
This is the third time Mkhwebane has successfully defended her reports in court since assuming office.
She successfully defended her report on corruption surrounding the Nelson Mandela funeral as well as another one involving Limpopo’s former MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana.