Helen Zille. Picture: SOWETAN
Helen Zille. Picture: SOWETAN

Former Western Cape premier and former leader of the DA Helen Zille will add her voice to the Institute of Race Relations’ campaigns, including its bid to stop expropriation of land without compensation.

The institute announced Sunday that Zille has joined the research and policy organisation as a senior policy fellow.

“We must defeat the racial nationalist and neo-Marxist ideas that threaten the future of every South African,” Zille said. “The IRR provides a platform for all concerned South Africans to contribute to this battle of ideas by doing three things — namely, uniting the middle; protecting property rights; and promoting individual freedoms.” 

She said she would contribute to the institute’s efforts in a number of areas, including putting a stop to land expropriation without compensation, protecting savings and pensions, halting efforts to destroy the health-care sector through the National Health Insurance and adopting empowerment policies based on actual disadvantage rather than race.

The institute said Zille has a long record in public life. “She began her career in journalism at the Rand Daily Mail where she helped to uncover the circumstances of the death in detention of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko in 1977,” it said. 

Zille insisted in a speech at the Cape Town Press Club last week that she would continue using social media extensively.  She vowed to continue pushing her controversial ideas even though she knows that she will be hammered for doing so. She said she intended to build a network of like-minded people throughout the country to fight for their ideas.

Zille created  a storm of controversy over her tweets on the benefits of colonialism and alleged black privilege. This brought her into conflict with the DA and in the former case she was subjected to a disciplinary process which resulted in her being prohibited from making public statements on behalf of the party.

Zille said she believed the battle of ideas in SA had only just begun and identified two debates which were critical for the future of the country. One was the shift to a culture of victimhood and an ideology of identity politics which she said had become prevalent and which she believed would make it impossible for SA to build a sense of nationhood.

She said an ideology of victimhood posed great dangers and was a threat to freedom of speech as its corollary was the right not to be offended.

Another debate was how to achieve the rule of law and constitutionalism, a capable state and a culture of accountability all at the same time. Zille said that after 10 years as premier of the Western Cape she realised that if one gave primacy to the rule of law and constitutionalism, it was almost impossible to achieve a capable state and accountability.

She gave as an example the generation of electricity by independent power producers which a capable state should promote but which was precluded by the law and the constitution.

With Linda Ensor