Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane (r) and Helen Zille, Western Cape premier. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane (r) and Helen Zille, Western Cape premier. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

Former DA leader Helen Zille says the party’s disciplinary process against her is a "sham", and that she has done nothing wrong.

Sources privy to Zille’s submission about why she should not be suspended, said she questioned whether she would receive fair treatment because of procedural flaws in the DA’s handling of her case.

She argued that the disciplinary case had been "pre-judged", contending that DA leader Mmusi Maimane had made it clear he wanted her suspended, and that he and the federal executive committee had decided to suspend her even before she made representations,

She submitted that the DA’s federal executive committee had violated the party’s constitution by rejecting a compulsory requirement for mediation in the matter.

She accused the DA of treating its members differently on the basis of race.

She also suggested that Maimane’s alleged failure to comply with process had prejudiced her.

Zille raised ire in March when, after a trip to Singapore, she tweeted, among other things: "For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative‚ think of our independent judiciary‚ transport infrastructure‚ piped water etc."

She later apologised to anyone who genuinely thought she was "praising, defending or justifying colonialism", saying "this was not so".

It is clear from Zille’s submission that the battle between her and the party may eventually land up in court.

In her submission, Zille said she would not accede to requests, by among others former DA leader Tony Leon, that she step aside as Western Cape premier, maintaining she had done nothing to breach her oath of office.

Zille holds the most senior government position in the DA — as Western Cape premier — but does not have a formal post in the party.

"If one joins the dots, and links all of those popping up out of the woodwork, it is clear that there has been some co-ordination behind the scenes," she said in response to e-mailed questions on Tuesday.

She would not divulge the contents of the submission herself, saying "the document is now with federal executive and their property. I cannot leak from Fedex".

The submission is set to be discussed at a teleconference of the party’s top brass on Wednesday morning.

Zille said she could speculate on the motives behind the hard-line stance against her, but that this "would not help the situation".

The battle is broader than just a disagreement about tweets, and relates to the direction the party is taking, including its co-operation agreements with the EFF to govern Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Zille on Tuesday said she agreed with the political re-alignment announced by Maimane last month and had argued for it and in some cases facilitated it.

"The most important objective must be governing well if one wins an election," she said.

Internal polls have shown that Zille’s tweets have damaged the party brand ahead of the 2019 elections. Her subsequent opinion pieces, in one of which she compared the DA to the ANC, have angered party bosses.

Zille said she did not believe open debate would damage the party in the long term.

"I believe in open debate and it is rarely damaging over the long term. It is an entirely natural phenomenon for a new leader to want to flex his muscles, especially in relation to a former leader."

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