Max du Preez compares Zille to Zuma, Trump after ‘batsh*t crazy performance’

The journalist says the former DA leader's claim that he once supported 'the racial nationalism of the NP' is 'pure ethnic stereotyping'.

Veteran journalist Max du Preez has agreed to debate former DA leader Helen Zille in the form of a podcast, after a heated Twitter exchange which included Zille alleging that 40 years ago, when she first met Du Preez, he was a supporter of “the racial nationalism of the NP”.

While Du Preez agreed to the debate, he also said he didn’t trust Zille, calling this tweet a “batsh*t-crazy Zuma/Trump performance”, an opinion he added to in answers to questions sent earlier on Thursday afternoon.

“Zille knew very well that implying that she had inside information on my ‘dark past as an apartheid supporter’ would cast a shadow over my credentials in the bizarre world of Twitter.

“That’s a tactic often used by Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump. I think she is petty and vindictive and her frustrations at her loss of political power are driving her to this irrational behaviour,” he said.

READ MORE: The ‘woke’ media built up the EFF with ‘fawning coverage’ – Zille

He also believes that Zille’s contention that he “supported the NP’s racial nationalism” is nothing more than “ethnic stereotyping”.

“I certainly never voiced such support to her (or anybody else) and never wrote anything that could be construed as such. In her mind, I was a young reporter working for an Afrikaans newspaper, and that meant that I had to be a racist Boer nationalist.”

Zille, meanwhile, told The Citizen that “Afrikaans newspapers were 100% aligned to the NP in those days and their copy reflected this”.

“Max was a bright-eyed and bushy tailed (very) young journalist working for an Afrikaans NP daily newspaper in Johannesburg. Max worked for them – it was impossible to work for them without supporting the NP, because that is the only political agenda some of those newspapers drove back then. It is just a fact. I did not say he was a card-carrying member of the NP because I could not know that,” she added.

“Let me add that people develop their ideas over time. They start in a place, like Max did, and then move when they get other insights. All I am saying is that it is sad he went back to square one with identity politics.”

Zille has before expressed the idea that the kind of identity politics advanced by some on the left is reminiscent of apartheid ideology, recently claiming that “‘Identity politics’ was proposed by Verwoerd as the basis for apartheid”.

Du Preez told The Citizen that he has been open about his journey towards left-wing politics that led him to found Vrye Weekblad, an anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper, which he details in full in his memoir, Pale Native.

“I grew up in the very conservative Afrikaner town of Kroonstad and went to the very Afrikaans Stellenbosch University, where I was recruited to work for the Afrikaans newspaper Die Burger and was transferred to Johannesburg when Beeld started in 1975. I was 23 at the time and like most other young whites growing up in the comfort and bubble of apartheid, had no strong political views,” he says, adding that he “first began to seriously question the apartheid system” when he reported on the 1976 Soweto uprising.

The twar between the pair began with a tweet in which Zille said the Economic Freedom Fighteres (EFF) was partly a creation of the media, which is crying foul now that it has turned on them.

“For the longest time, the ‘woke’ media actually built up the EFF with what can only be described as ‘fawning’ coverage. Now that the EFF has turned on them, they do not like it. That explains a lot,” she tweeted.

Zille, who is now a research fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) and is herself a former journalist, has made it clear, via tweets and a recent column, that she does not support the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) in its fight against the EFF, which she believes could negatively impact on media freedom. Journalists, she wrote, cannot expect to be “immune from blow-back”.

READ MORE: Zille sides with Malema and EFF over Sanef

In response, Du Preez said Zille was simply enjoying the chance to see the targeting of her media critics by the party’s supporters.

“You seem to enjoy the fact that the EFF is gunning for your old critics in the media. Problem is, the EFF is also targeting those journalists that never ‘fawned’ over them. Contain your schadenfreude and focus on what is good for free speech – intimidating the media isn’t,” he tweeted.

This led to a back-and-forth between the pair, which can be read in full below. It included Du Preez telling Zille she would not see the “progressive liberal” she once was if she looked in a mirror.

“If you look in a mirror, Max, you will see exactly the same person that I met over 40 years ago supporting the racial nationalism of the NP. After a sojourn in the world of non-racialism, you followed the ‘left’ trend to racist identity politics again. Back to Square 1. Sad,” she tweeted.

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