Helen Zille’s tweet misses the mark, again

Image Credit: The Democratic Alliance Flickr

Cape Town – On Tuesday, Western Cape Premier Hellen Zille received severe criticism after tweeting about the compensation awarded to families of the psychiatric patients who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

She was reacting to a decision by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to award more than R250 million to the 144 family members of psychiatric patients who died in an attempt to move them from Life Esidimeni facilities to unregistered NGOs.

Zille went to twitter to question the timing of the families raising their concerns.

“It is good that the families of the Life Esidimeni victims have received a measure of justice and compensation. I would like an answer to this question: What did they do, before these tragic deaths, to raise the alarm about their loved ones starving + living in profound neglect?”

The tweet did not sit well with many Twitter users, who were quick to point out Zille’s insensitive approach.

One Twitter user stated, “you clearly have been living under a rock this whole time. This profoundly insensitive question has been ventilated to death (excuse the pun) by both the health ombudsman and the Justice Moseneke’s arbitration hearing. Alarms were raised long before the deaths.”

Some went as far as suggesting Zille step away from politics altogether.

“With all due respect Helen Zille, it is time for you to hang up your political shoes. I am sorry, but you do not have the political intuition, insight, and empathy to be a political leader in the present South Africa.”

Moseneke also ordered that each family of the Esidimeni tragedy be paid R1m for constitutional damages, R180 000 for trauma and shock, and R20 000 for funeral expenses, which should all be paid within three months.

This is not the first time Zille has brought herself into disrepute over Twitter. In March last year, she tweeted that not all aspects of the legacy of colonialism were negative. She eventually had to issue a formal apology to the nation and was officially suspended from all of her party’s activities by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Federal Executive.

She had, however, survived calls for her to step down from politics.

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