News / Opinion

Rhoda Kadalie
3 minute read
24 Mar 2017
5:31 am

Hysteria over Zille’s colonialism tweet a storm in a teacup

Rhoda Kadalie

Her provocative tweet was intended to challenge our thinking, if not her own, after a fruitful visit to Singapore.

Helen Zille. Picture: Supplied

One of the most abused of human rights is freedom of speech and expression.

Just because it often does not include physical violence as with other violations unless, of course, it is an ANC Youth League rally, or parliament, or an anti-Trump rally, violators believe that they have the right to silence others just because they do not agree with their ideas.

Conveniently forgotten is that freedom of speech includes the right to be offended, to be challenged and to be confronted by the facts, regardless.

The 19th-century public intellectual Frederick Douglas claimed that “to suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker”.

The act of silencing has ironically become more pronounced than ever, two decades into our constitutional democracy.

That a Helen Zille tweet about colonialism could ignite such hysteria from political actors from the most unlikely quarters is ridiculous.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, journalists Max Du Preez and Barnard Beukman and many Economic Freedom Fighters and ANC supporters are united in their flawed understanding of Zille’s tweet.

Justice Malala on the Justice Factor has gone as far as juxtaposing Zille with Bathabile Dlamini as “losers of the week”, regardless of how incomparable they are, in every way.

Dlamini has no moral compass, is serially corrupt and ineffectual. Zille, on the other hand, is intelligent, dedicated, hard-working and an innovative politician.

Her provocative tweet was intended to challenge our thinking, if not her own, after a fruitful visit to Singapore.

Interviewed on the Justice Factor, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke exclaims, without a shadow of a doubt, “it is a vicious tweet, shaming and blaming the victims of colonialism”.

“We must see where it comes from,” he said, before equating Zille to Penny Sparrow, suggesting that the DA must “pay” for this tweet.

Professor Madoda Zibi added fuel to the fire, saying Maimane needed to “be liberated from being seen as Zille’s project”, alluding to her tweets as an obsession that serially gets her into trouble, almost equating the tweet with lauding Hitler’s Germany.

What should worry us is that these pundits are our thought leaders, spewing unadulterated rubbish on television.

The usually wise Malala regrettably supported this nonsense, asking whether the premier should go.

He fallaciously declares her “a loser” based on his own narrow interpretation of what Zille actually said.

It is clear that none of them read her contemplation about her visit to Singapore and, based on their mindless hysteria, they negate her exceptional performance as executive mayor and premier, for which she received international recognition.

The deliberate misinterpretations of the tweet suits the political agenda of her detractors, who see things in black and white and who love feeling aggrieved, especially if the perpetrator is white.

Zibi’s talk of “Maimane being Zille’s project” shows how deep the woundedness and victimhood are embedded within the psyche of learned people who do not distinguish between someone raising a contentious idea and someone who states as fact that an oppressive system was better.

The “Talibanisation” of the public sphere increasingly forces the real intellectuals among us to reduce our tweets to the lowest common IQ denominators.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist, making a speech in Athlone.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist, making a speech in Athlone.

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