‘ANC abandoned reconciliation’
The ANC has given up on the quest for reconciliation and nonracialism in South Africa, and is instead fighting a race war, says DA leader Mmusi Maimane. In an interview with City Press this week, Maimane said “the discussion about reconciliation has long departed from the ANC”, which had abandoned the project of making itself a home for all South Africans.
“What the ANC has done today is say that we are no longer fighting a system, but we are fighting a race, and that is the problem,” he said.
Maimane was speaking a day after he delivered a wellreceived speech on race and racism at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. The speech, delivered in the wake of a spate of racist incidents around the country, was hailed as honest and brave.
In the speech, he said the continuing racism was akin to “pouring salt in a deep wound” of past injustice, and pledged that his party would be at the forefront of fighting the scourge. He said racists were not welcome in the DA and discouraged them from voting for the party.
Maimane told City Press that there should be equal outrage at racism, regardless of who perpetrated it. He said the racial slurs directed at him and whites by ANC leaders should be treated with the same outrage directed at the case of Penny Sparrow.
Black: 4 White: 4 Men: 6 Women: 2
Black: 31 White: 56 Men: 59 Women: 28
Black: 7 White: 2 Men: 7 Women: 2
“When people stand up in Parliament saying things like ‘Maimane is only a token black who was hired [because he is] married to a white person’, almost attacking in really racial language, nobody says a thing,” he said.
He said the “presumption that says racists can only be white” was wrong. He cited as examples an incident in which an ANC MEC in the Eastern Cape had allegedly said that white pupils should be barred from a local school, and another in which an ANC MP said white people were “stupid and must be driven out” of the country. In another example, an ANC councillor in Cape Town had also threatened white people with “murder”.
He described as “almost false logic” the ANC’s campaign to portray the DA as a racist party.
“You say only white people are in the DA, and only white people can be racist, therefore the DA is racist. That is the campaign,” he said.
He said that the DA was “the only party that has stopped saying that we represent one race or demographic or one province, and the party is growing everywhere in diverse environments”.
On the claim that only the DA inherited former supporters of the National Party, Maimane pointed out that National Party members and supporters could be found everywhere, highlighting the fact that its last leader, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, had joined the ANC.
He said it was a “misnomer” to talk about the Western Cape – which is the only province governed by the DA – as the most racist in the country.
“The ANC has also been in government there, so the suggestion will be wrong and misinformed,” said Maimane.
“The factory for racism was apartheid and it is a national crisis. If we as leaders are not willing to stand up and lead through it – not only in our parties, cities and communities – we are going to face some big challenges,” he said.
Maimane said it was true that the DA was not yet as diverse as it could be, particularly looking at the racial composition of its legislature caucus in Parliament.
“The big part of my speech was to say that we are diverse, but we are not diverse enough. So I acknowledge that point,” he said.
He said there was “a deliberate process” to set targets and achieve more diverse caucuses in the various legislatures.
“We have gone for an organic growth, and now I’m asking that we must put steroids to that organic growth so that we accelerate it without sitting down and setting quotas. We are going for diversity and not representivity on the basis of the national census,” said Maimane.
TRUTH TO POWER
Mmusi Maimane during his race relations speech at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg on Tuesday