Helen Zille is a racist

Helen Zille is a racist

Time and time again, former DA leader Helen Zille has defended herself against accusations of racism. She points to the fact that she fought against Apartheid as a journalist, and the work she has done as a politician in the democratic era. In my eyes, this is similar to racists who claim to have black friends – they often go to great lenghts to detail the work they are doing to correct the wrongs of the past. 

Gaopalelwe Olivia Phalaetsile

Zille created (another) Twitter storm with her tweet in defence of colonialism – stating that those who claim the legacy of colonialism was only negative, must consider the independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water and so forth. In short, she was espousing the benefits of colonialism.

Zille suggests that the violence imposed by colonial powers on Africa and its black majority was worth it, since the benefits derived from British rule left us with all kinds of nice things.  She however fails to mention that for South Africa, colonialism birthed Apartheid. For the black majority there was nothing benefits to the racism and violence brought by colonial powers. They only came here for their own benefit and ended up leaving Africa  in tatters.

Writing this makes me angry. For such an experienced politician, it should be clear to Zille that colonialism was unnecessary. Her tweets are a smack in the face of Africans who were sold as slaves.

It is ignorance on the part of Zille, to sell the ‘development’ under colonialism and Apartheid as something that was beneficial to all South Africans. The colonial masters only came to enrich themselves, to extract resources and even the African people themselves. We cannot argue that colonialism developed Africa, since the very intention of colonialism was to underdevelop and maintain the ‘master-slave' status quo.

Futhermore, at the time of the colonial invasion, Africa was not some some primitive continent waiting to be saved. From mining, to intricate legal systems and trade networks and alternative infrastructure, Africa was developed in its own way. Colonialism disrupted the progress made by the African people. 

So no Helen, colonisation had no positive aspects. All of it was negative, and we are still having to deal with its legacy today, as result of the violent disruption and destruction of pre-existing structures, theft, extraction of resources, slavery and exploitation. 

The idea that colonialism had, in some aspects, developed Africa is nothing but racist. It boggles my mind that Zille does not understand that what she calls 'developments’ were achieved with the barrel of a gun. Ironically, she is quick to call out other political party leaders who want to respond to these legacies with the same violence.

Then again, why are we surprised? This is same person who said drug abuse and alcohol addiction are doing more harm to young people today, than apartheid did to their parents. Zille didn’t think to take take into account that drug and alcohol abuse is linked to legacies of apartheid. 

The only people who are able to determine whether aspects of colonialism were beneficial - are the people directly impacted by – and not its beneficiaries. When you benefit from a system, chances are you would find something positive to say about it. You cannot go around telling a victim of abuse, that they should be grateful for the violence inflicted upon them, when you are very person abusing them in the first place.

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