Helen Zille courts controversy with ‘thrown to the dogs’ comments

A clip of DA Federal Chair Helen Zille vowing not to allow KwaZulu-Natal to be “thrown to the dogs” has upset many EFF and MK Party supporters. However, others have argued that the figure of speech seems to have been lost in translation…

Zille was speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, 2 July, in Johannesburg. In it, she revealed how the DA and ANC had failed to reach a consensus on how to co-govern Gauteng as part of the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU) agreement.

During the briefing, Helen Zille claimed that the ANC had failed to negotiate in good faith in the composition of the Gauteng executive.

She said: “Up to now, the ANC is prepared to offer the DA a maximum of three seats without telling us how many they want to give to other parties and how many they intend to keep to themselves, which is obviously unsatisfactory.”

Despite the deadlock, Zille claimed that they would not pull out of the KZN GPU.

She continued: “We are not going to bring KwaZulu-Natal down if they don’t agree to the document terms in Gauteng; we are not going to do that; we are not irresponsible people. We don’t want to hand KwaZulu-Natal to the MK and EFF. It will be a total disaster for that province.

She added: “We are not going to say the people of KZN can be thrown to the dogs”.

On the X app, MK Party and EFF supporters voiced their anger at Helen Zille’s comments.

EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu retweeted a clip that claimed that Zille had referred to their party as “dogs.”

Fellow EFF MP Mzanele Manyi added: “Zille must retract this STUPID and RACIST statement.”

Meanwhile, former EFF Chair Dali Mpofu tweeted: “Calling lawfully registered political parties voted by the majority of Africans in KZN ‘dogs’? Imagine (the fake public outrage) if she was black.”

MK Party supporters were just as outraged.


Several social media users responded to the criticism and claimed that Helen Zille’s comments were incorrectly interpreted.

@Barney_Ems: “It’s a metaphor. A figure of speech.”

@DiscerningDeb: “It’s a saying, an idiomatic expression. It doesn’t refer to anyone in particular.”

@DonaldMathekga: “Thrown to the dogs’ -that’s not calling them dogs.”


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase “thrown to the dogs” or “go to the dogs” means that something has “become much worse in quality or character.”

An example reads: “If a country or organization is going to the dogs, it is becoming very much less successful than it was in the past.”

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