Penalise racists – Mantashe
Public representatives who stir up racial tension should face harsh financial sanctions as a deterrent to regulate their conduct and not put our fragile democracy at risk, says ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Mantashe said in court papers the ANC filed this week in the equality court that it was not enough for the courts to merely censure DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard for sharing a social-media post that praised late apartheid leader PW Botha.
“The respondent represents the [DA] in a public forum and is paid by taxpayers for her services,” said Mantashe. He said that, in that capacity, Kohler Barnard owed “a duty to South Africans to conduct herself responsibly and not engage in racial abuse or racist acts [that are] contrary to our Constitution and the laws of the country”.
Kohler Barnard – who had shared on her personal Facebook page a post praising Botha and calling for his return – had subsequently apologised and was sanctioned by the DA. In October, the party’s federal executive expelled her, but the sanction was lifted two months later following an appeal.
The DA’s disciplinary committee suspended Kohler Barnard’s expulsion for five years, fined her R20 000 and removed her from all elected positions.
However, Mantashe said in court papers that “for an experienced politician holding such a senior position in a political party, her party’s sanctions amount to a slap on the wrist given the enormity of her misconduct”.
He said the trauma caused by a call for the return of apartheid rule patently justified a harsher penalty.
“An appropriate sanction is one of dismissal, or else the party is seen as condoning the hurt caused to black people and the glorification of white minority rule,” said Mantashe.
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The ANC on Friday also issued a statement condemning another DA MP, Anchen Dreyer, for allegedly participating in the commemoration of historical figure Paul Kruger.
ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Kruger was “a ruthless and bloodthirsty colonial-era racist ruler who presided over the mass killings, torture, harassment and cruel destruction of black communities in various parts of this country”.
“He was an apartheid pioneer who led the enslavement, dispossession, economic deprivation and subjugation of black people,” added Mothapo.
He said Dreyer’s “unashamed glorification and admiration of such a reprehensible figure is a tacit endorsement of the heinous crimes against humanity he perpetuated against black South Africans”.
“Anyone who regards Kruger as a hero is also a racist who shares all that he stood for, including a belief that blacks are inferior savages who deserve the untold suffering they endured for many years under colonialism and apartheid,” said Mothapo.
However, Mothapo was reminded by others on social-media platform Twitter that the ANC defended the statue of Kruger when members of the Economic Freedom Fighters vandalised it in April.
At the time, ANC members cleaned a vandalised statue of Kruger in central Port Elizabeth, saying every culture’s history needed to be preserved for coming generations.
Online news site Netwerk24 quoted ANC legislator Christian Martin saying that “the ANC has to take the lead as the ruling party to ensure that every culture’s history is protected”.
“Mistakes from the past have to change your life to prevent it from happening again. No one’s history should be broken down to benefit another’s,” said Martin.
The DA’s Phumzile van Damme said the ANC was growing desperate and wanted to divide South Africans along racial lines. She said South Africa “has a rich and complex history, which cannot be wished away. Rather, the injustices of the past must be recognised and learnt from. And those who violated the rights of our fellow South Africans must be remembered for that crime too.”