South Africa’s opposition expels member over Facebook post

By Editorial Board - 2 November 2015 at 4:51 pm

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s main opposition party has expelled a prominent member for sharing a Facebook post praising an apartheid leader.

Dianne Kohler-Barnard will appeal the Democratic Alliance’s decision to terminate her membership, she said Saturday in a text message to The Associated Press. Kohler-Barnard, a member of parliament, is a vocal critic of South Africa’s police ministry.

In September Kohler-Barnard republished a post in which the author criticizes police corruption and calls for the return of apartheid-era President P.W. Botha.

“Please come back P.W. Botha — you were far more honest than any of these ANC rogues, and you provided better services to the public,” wrote user Paul Kirk, referring to the ruling African National Congress.

After an image of the post went viral, the party referred Kohler-Barnard to an internal disciplinary process, describing her actions as “indefensible.”

“P.W. Botha was a tyrant, who oversaw torture and murder of thousands of South Africans,” the Democratic Alliance said in a statement, adding that the party is committed to reversing the legacy of apartheid, South Africa’s racist political regime that ended more than two decades ago.

“I apologize unreservedly for sharing a post … in the midst of which the author praised P.W. Botha. I erased it immediately when I realized,” Kohler-Barnard tweeted on Oct. 1. She added that she often shares this user’s posts because of his criticism of police corruption.

The Democratic Alliance, with roots in white liberal opposition to apartheid, has worked hard to attract black voters and to shed the perception that it represents the interests of South Africa’s white minority. Earlier this year, the party elected its first black leader.

Botha, who died in 2006, led South Africa for more than a decade under the racist apartheid regime.

LYNSEY CHUTEL, Associated Press
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

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