Zille has voiced her support for Jacob Zuma


‘Uzoba Strong’: Maimane takes jabs at Helen Zille on Twitter

Maimane clapped back at Helen Zille who lambasted his call for schools to remain closed

Zille has voiced her support for Jacob Zuma


On Saturday, 6 June 2020, Mmusi Maimane’s twitter feed was flooded with hearty birthday messages from South Africans from all walks of life, but what likely stood out the most on his timeline, were several tweets firing back at Helen Zille, his former ally and mentor.

Zille, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Federal Council Chairperson, had criticised Maimane’s court bid to block the reopening of schools on Monday, 8 June 2020, calling it irresponsible. The former DA leader and his One South Africa Movement have indicated they would be approaching their lawyers for a way forward.

The Constitutional Court rejected the movement’s application and denied them direct access to challenge government’s move to reopen schools.

Zille condemns Maimane’s attempt to block reopening of schools

“This attempt to keep schools closed is highly irresponsible, and will do much more damage to children’s lives than Covid. The only people who should stay home are children with dread diseases or staff with co-morbidities”, Zille tweeted in response to an article on the court ruling.

“You waited for my birthday to cast shade… “,the newly-turned 40-year-old responded. However, that was not the end for Maimane, who didn’t hesitate to take further aim at Zille, even while prompted by other users.

When one user commented that Zille’s initial remark may have been sour grapes, Maimane replied: “Uzoba Strong”, which means “She’ll be strong” in Zulu. The phrase colloquially translates to “She’ll have to deal with it”, taking on a more dismissive tone and far from being an expression of encouragement, as some may think.

That was far from over for Maimane who eventually tweeted:

“People who wait for your birthday to cast shade or to say negative things. Let’s be clear, we fought to make schools safe to reopen. That was the correct fight. There must be water, working toilets and clean and safe bathrooms.”

Mmusi Maimane

Bad blood between Maimane and Zille

While Helen Zille was considered to be one of the driving forces behind Mmusi Maimane’s quick ascendance to the DA, the once rosy union between the pair appeared to have deteriorated later on during Maimane’s leadership tenure. Notably, it was when the party took Zille to task over her tweets praising colonialism, that cracks started to show. Who could forget the clashes with former Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, who eventually started her own political home, Good.

Tensions reached boiling point when Maimane stepped down as party leader in 2019, in response to Zille’s unpopular return as Federal Council Chairperson.