Helen Zille. Picture: THE TIMES
Helen Zille. Picture: THE TIMES

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is likely to take on judicial review a report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, which found she had violated the executive ethics code when she tweeted about colonialism.

Mkhwebane on Monday released her report into Zille following a complaint lodged in July 2017 after she tweeted that there were some positives that emanated from colonialism.

She found Zille acted in a manner that was inconsistent with the integrity of her office, she violated the principles of the Constitution and divided society on racial grounds.

"The tweet has brought back a lot of pain and suffering to victims of apartheid and colonialism in SA. She celebrated the oppression, exploitation, racism and poverty which are a direct result of [the] legacy of colonialism," Mkhwebane told journalists in Pretoria. "She failed to act in good faith and in the best interest of good governance by making such statements."

She said Zille’s actions did not comply with what was expected from a premier. In her remedial action, Mkhwebane instructed the speaker of the Western Cape legislature to table the report within 30 days so appropriate action could be taken to hold Zille accountable.

In March 2017, Zille tweeted: "For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc."

This pushed DA leader Mmusi Maimane to refer the matter to the party’s federal legal commission, which handles disciplinary matters. In January 2018, Zille apologised for the tweet and acknowledged that it was insensitive. She said that colonialism and apartheid subjugated and oppressed the majority of South Africans on the basis of race and were indefensible. Zille said she did not justify, defend or praise colonialism in any way.

The DA averted having to discipline its former leader, opting for a political solution instead. According to the settlement, Zille kept her job as Western Cape premier but stepped down from all party structures.

Zille’s office on Monday said it had noted Mkhwebane’s finding but had not received the report outlining the reasons.

"However, from what has been announced on TV, the premier is likely to take this report on judicial review," her spokesman, Michael Mpofu, said. "The premier has advised the public protector that, in her view, such a finding would be unlawful and irrational."