Zille remains defiant in face of online criticism

The Western Cape premier will leave office in a few weeks. Now she's looking back on a career full of drama. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has refused to back down from controversial comments she made on race and privilege on Friday.

Zille responded to a tweet of an American poet performing a poem on white privilege by saying, "Why is she saying this stuff in English?".

She went on to engage with social media users on the definitions and existence of white privilege.

READ: Helen Zille once again caught up in Twitter storm

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela called on Zille to apologise, saying, "dear Helen Zille, white privilege is universal and comes with the premium the world places on whiteness plus accumulated historical advantages."

"To equate it with black privilege is myopic. To brand blacks as looters and political pretenders is wrong. Please withdraw and apologize."

Zille continued undeterred and responded, "dear Thuli Madonsela, the era to which you refer has ended."

READ: Zille responds to Twitter outrage over tax revolt 

"Today "whiteness" is a swear-word used to stigmatise and marginalise.  I thought our struggle was to judge each individual on their merits irrespective of race." 

"I will not replace one form of racism with another. Sorry."

She responded to criticism of her statements by saying others misuse the term white privilege and she would not be "doing double standards anymore".

READ: Helen Zille once again caught up in Twitter storm

Zille said, "Just ask yourself.  How are phrases like "whiteness" and "white privilege" used?  In a nuanced way?" 

"My point was to show what an outrageous blunt instrument, terms like "white privilege" and "black privilege" and other racial generalisations are."