Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is studying the best tax revolt model to use should the government continue not to apply the law to the corrupt and powerful.

Zille took to Twitter last week, threatening that if those implicated in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture aren‘t jailed within a reasonable time, she would organise a tax revolt.

On Saturday morning, a seemingly fed up Zille tweeted that she had tried the electoral route for years, but it seemed that voters “enjoy” voting for corruption.

In another tweet, she added that this election would be the last chance for voters to vote against corruption and if “voters fail the democracy test again”, it will be time for additional methods.

Zille continued to tweet on Monday, saying that the hysteria about her proposal for a tax revolt was fascinating. 

While some took to Twitter supporting Zille‘s ideas, others admonished her and DA leader Mmusi Maimane distanced himself from the idea, saying that he would not support a tax revolt.

No violence

Speaking to News24 on Monday, Zille said that only if government does not apply the law to the corrupt would she resort to encouraging a tax revolt to force government to hold those implicated to account.

She said that there were many ways of undertaking a tax revolt, something she was looking into.

“I am planning my proposals carefully,” Zille said.

“I am looking at all the examples, including the poll tax revolt that brought down Margaret Thatcher‘s government in 1990, and the yellow jackets currently in France.”

However, she emphasised that she did not want anything to do with violence. 

“There have been 81 recorded and analysed instances of tax revolts worldwide in the last 20 years and I am studying them to make sure I find the best model.”

Zille said that accountability was the essence of democratic government, but that all mechanisms of holding power accountable were failing, one by one.  

“The criminal justice pipeline has been captured by power abusers in order to prevent accountability. There have been hundreds of very serious and substantiated allegations of corruption, in terms of which no one has yet been charged or convicted.

Another kind of tax revolt

“Many voters seem comfortable with the idea of re-electing a corrupt slate of candidates, so elections do not act as a mechanism of accountability.

“Throughout history, tax revolts used against unaccountable leaders have been effectively used to force accountability, starting with the Magna Carta, the historical first step towards democratic governance.”

Silencing naysayers, Zille said that a tax revolt was not a new phenomenon in South Africa and that leaders of the ANC had been, in various ways, at the forefront of a kind of tax revolt for at least a decade.

“There are a whole lot of tax revolts in progress right now. 

“Has Zuma paid any tax on Nkandla? On all the bribes he received from the Shaiks and allegedly also from the Guptas and now from the Watsons? Did he pocket R300 000 a month from Bosasa and declare it in his income tax return? In fact, has he ever submitted an income tax return?

“Bathabile Dlamini? Nomvula Mokonyane? Baleka Mbete? Jessie Duarte? Even Gwede Mantashe (security upgrades), Vincent Smith? And many many more?” said Zille.

“They are all in the vanguard of the tax revolt yet many of their indigent followers seem quite happy to vote for them again. But God help ordinary diligent middle-class taxpayers who say enough is enough.”


Zille added that the billions owed to Eskom by municipalities were also an act of defiance. 

“That‘s a tax revolt.

“Tenants who don‘t pay rent in government housing (to the tune of hundreds of millions). That‘s a tax revolt.

“Refusal to pay TV licences to support SABC propaganda, that‘s a tax revolt.”

Zille added that refusal to pay e-tolls, which has been endorsed by the DA, was also a tax revolt.

“SA is full of tax revolts. It is now time to use one against the very people who have been leading the tax revolt that fleeces poor people, and then miraculously get the poor to re-elect them. Time for some tough messaging.”

DA distances itself from revolt

While the DA and some of its leaders have distanced themselves from Zille‘s comments, Zille maintained that she was not going against any stated DA policy that she is aware of. 

“Last I heard, the DA supported the e-tolls tax revolt,” Zille told News24.

DA director of communication Mabine Seabe said the call for a tax revolt was not in line with the party‘s policy.

“Our call as the DA is for the people of South Africa to boycott the ANC at the ballot box, and vote for change that builds one South Africa for all,” Seabe said.

“Where the DA governs, we have shown that the money that the people entrust us with goes back into developing communities, delivering services and stopping corruption so that there are more opportunities for all, especially the poor.”

Zille said that she was not concerned about the possibility of there being repercussions for her within the DA regarding her comments.

Equally, she isn‘t concerned with the possible legal implications for mobilising for a tax revolt.

“That‘s fine. It would be typical of what is going on in SA if I, a loyal and diligent taxpayer, landed in jail while all the smallanyana skeletons continued their merry dance at the pinnacle of power. I‘ve had enough.”

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