Sun Apr 2, 2017 04:29PM
This file photo taken on February 3, 2014 shows the former leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance political party, and former Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille addressing a press conference in Johannesburg. (AFP photo)
This file photo taken on February 3, 2014 shows the former leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance political party, and former Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille addressing a press conference in Johannesburg. (AFP photo)

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA), the country’s main opposition party, has brought up charges against a powerful regional leader over a tweet she posted hailing the era of colonialism.

The DA authorities said Sunday that Helen Zille, former DA leader and the current premier of the Western Cape Province, was charged with misconduct after she wrote on her Twitter account last month that colonialism had brought benefits including clean water.

Zille lashed out at the critics of colonial era in South Africa, saying the country had benefited during the period and it was not all negative.

"For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water," she tweeted.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane attended a press briefing in Cape Town about the proceedings launched against Zille and said that her views could harm the image of the party.

"People can express a view but does that view do damage or harm to the interests of the organisation, which is what this is,” Maimane said, adding, "Our party has always stood for the principle of freedom of speech. This case is not about freedom of speech. Our party has stood for South Africans from all walks of life.”

The DA said Zille would continue to serve in her post during the probe by the party. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) criticized the decision and said the regional premier should have been suspended during the probe. The ANC said that comments like those of Zille showed the futility of DA efforts to reach out to the black population in South Africa.

The DA has presented itself as more of a “white” party although it struggles to broaden its appeal among black voters. The party won 22 percent of the vote in 2014's general election.