The savage attacks on Helen Zille are out of proportion, contemptible and unedifying.

This is a great woman who has stood up to corrupt authority. She exposed the true circumstances of the death in detention of Steve Biko at great personal risk.

She laid bare the maladministration of the ANC, wrested power from it in the Western Cape, consolidated the DA’s grip on that province by providing an honest and decent administration, and nationwide has played an indispensable role in the development of a credible and effective opposition to the Zupta government. She is, by any yardstick, a heroine.

Zille made an intemperate assertion. It might have caused offence, but any objective historian would concede that there is an argument to be made about the merits and demerits of colonialism.

In any normal society, Zille should have received a mild or even strong rebuke. Instead, she continues to be subjected to a campaign of vilification on par with and sometimes exceeding that which is justly meted out to Jacob Zuma and his Gupta cronies.

One is forced to wonder about the tactical and decision-making ability of the leadership of the DA.

Had it dealt with the matter promptly, appropriately and justly, it would have won the respect of all sensible South Africans and the issue would long since have been put to rest.

Instead, it has allowed itself to be manipulated by its political enemies, to the point where it finds itself on the defensive in a political environment where it should be open season on the Zupta government.

To think that it is seriously contemplated that this icon of our country should be forced to resign, for a relatively minor offence, says much more about her accusers than it does about Zille.

Peter van der MeerBryanston

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