Explainer: Why Public Protector investigated Zille's tweet

Explainer: Why Public Protector investigated Zille's tweet

- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Helen Zille's tweet on colonialism was in violation of the Constitution

- Her findings upset many South Africans - they feel she is being irrational

- There are also those who say the Public Protector did not have the right to investigate the tweet at all

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Helen Zille's tweet got more attention than it should have, according to most South Africans.

The tweet that is slowly becoming historical, has been scrutinised, critiqued or laughed off as nothing important.

For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure etc.

The Public Protector felt that Zille's tweet was important enough to warrant a closer look. And then she decided that tweet is so offensive, something must be done.

What exactly did the Public Protector base her investigation and findings on?

The Public Protector pulled closer her legal books and gave the following reasons for investigating the infamous tweet:

Section 10 of the Bill of Rights - The right to human dignity

Section 16(2)(b) of the Bill of Rights - Dealing with speech not protected by the Constitution

Mkhwebane stated that according to the Bill of Rights, statements which could provoke a certain public reaction, capable of stirring up racial violence, are not allowed.

She further compared the tweet to the case of an academic who wrote about the benefits of colonialism recently. This academic was spurned for writing something like that.

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The next comparison was to a European Court of Human Rights case. A cartoon artist was found guilty of approving of terrorism after drawing a caricature of the 9/11 New York attack.

The Public Protector stated that just as the cartoonist provoked heated reaction from the public, so did any inconsiderate comments about colonialism - in South African context.

Mkhwebane then said that the tweet could stir up violence based on race.

According to Phephelaphi Dube, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Mkhwebane's interpretation of the Bill of Rights is incorrect in this case.

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Mkhwebane released a report that described Zille's tweet as offensive and in violation of the court. She wants further action to be taken.

The general response from South Africans is that she's wasting time investigating unimportant matters.

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Not everyone agrees that the Public Protector is correct in her findings. In fact, most people think she is absolutely wrong.

Director of the Centre for Constitutional Right, Phephelaphi Dube, stated that the tweet may have been offensive to some, but it does not constitute to hate speech.

Another issue that people have with the Public Protector is that she didn't really have the right to investigate the matter.

It was up to the Human Rights Commission to decided whether or not to investigate the tweet. The commission would then have taken further steps.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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