It seems that even with Julius Malema staying away from the microphone these days, the South African public is still guaranteed the occasional controversial verbal outburst from the political arena. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is the cause of the sensation this time around. She made unwelcome remarks about overweight ANC member of parliament Zodwa Magwaza.
IOL News gave details that Zodwa Magwaza had questioned Zille’s silence when it came to the issue of closing down certain schools. Magwaza referred to this issue as the “elephant in the room”. This did not sit well with Helen Zille. She retorted by pointing out that “there was only one elephant in the room”. Her response was unmasked and clearly directed at Magwaza. The premier further suggested that Magwaza would have a lot to benefit from taking up cycling to address her weight and lifestyle concerns.
The African National Congress in the Western Cape is thoroughly unimpressed by this patronising remark. Zodwa Magwaza has been unavailable for comment. The provincial secretary for the ANC, Songezo Mjongile, said that the ANC was of the opinion that Helen Zille diverted attention from serious issues by adopting behaviour and racist speech that is “unbecoming of a premier”. According to Mjongile, the ANC would not take this repeat incident lying down.
Cobus Grobler is a spokesperson for the ANC. He likened this recent outburst to another by previous Democratic Alliance leader Theuns Botha who once noted similarities between ANC member Lynn Brown and a hippopotamus. Zak Mbele spoke on behalf of the premier saying that Zille mentioned the cycle race to nearby Devil’s Peak only as a challenge to Magwaza and not as an insult. The ANC is demanding a voluntary retraction and apology from Helen Zille.