So whites are our peo­ple and African refugees are not?

Sunday Times - - Opinion - ONKGOPOTSE JJ TABANE Tabane is a ra­dio and TV talk­show host, the au­thor of Let’s Talk Frankly, and a for­mer mem­ber of COPE

Dear Mo­siuoa Lekota, I have heard your re­cent bizarre ut­ter­ances with dis­gust and I know that, ow­ing to your tin­pot dic­ta­to­rial ten­den­cies, few around you would have called you to the side and told you the truth. Frankly, you are be­gin­ning to sound se­nile.

Your lat­est em­bar­rass­ing claim is that fel­low Africans who come here for refuge — in the way that your com­rades in the ANC sought refuge in other African coun­tries at the height of apartheid — must be con­fined to refugee camps and kept away from South African so­ci­ety.

What an anti-Black Con­scious­ness view to ar­tic­u­late on the eve of Nel­son Man­dela’s 100th birth­day. Ntate Lekota, Madiba would be turn­ing in his grave in shame over you.

In your BC days, you would have given a ser­mon about how black peo­ple are the same re­gard­less of their ori­gin on this con­ti­nent. You would have re­minded those younger than you that the Free­dom Charter says South Africa be­longs to all those who live in it re­gard­less of colour and creed. This is be­cause your com­rades were refugees in many coun­tries where refugee camps were an abom­i­na­tion. Only those who were in those coun­tries for mil­i­tary train­ing were con­fined to camps.

I know the years are show­ing, Ntate Lekota, but even you will re­mem­ber that this econ­omy was built by the blood and tears of peo­ple from Le­sotho — where even you have rel­a­tives. The fore­fa­thers of peo­ple from Zam­bia, Swazi­land, Mozam­bique and Namibia died in the mines where your BC friends now have shares. Your mem­ory must be fail­ing you as you spit on their graves so spec­tac­u­larly.

The refugee camps non­sense is not the only thing keep­ing you and your three-per­son party in the head­lines. At the re­cent land sum­mit at Unisa, you ap­par­ently had an at­tack of nostal­gia, telling peo­ple that af­ter leav­ing the ANC in a huff back in 2008, you are “still ANC”. This is shame­ful, con­sid­er­ing that 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple wasted their votes on

COPE at the 2009 polls with the prom­ise of an al­ter­na­tive.

But I di­gress. Ac­cord­ing to your bizarre logic, white peo­ple who stole land from our peo­ple must be left alone to own that land be­cause when the ANC ar­gues that land must be re­turned to our peo­ple your re­tort is: “Who is our peo­ple?”

So whites are our peo­ple and African refugees are not.

Wow, Ntate Lekota, you are no dif­fer­ent from He­len Zille, who called black peo­ple refugees in the West­ern Cape and glo­ri­fied colo­nial­ism by see­ing a sil­ver lin­ing in it.

What about re­dress — can you spell the word these days? What hap­pened to your Black Con­scious­ness, Ntate Lekota? Have you given up on the dream of land be­ing re­stored to the African ma­jor­ity?

I re­mem­ber the early days of COPE, when many of us looked up to you, be­fore you killed the party’s po­ten­tial by at­tempt­ing to shield white peo­ple from trans­for­ma­tion. You spewed such non­sense about BEE and af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion and made the party a com­plete laugh­ing stock when you said, with a straight face: “Race will no longer be used as a cri­te­rion for af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion.”

It was chill­ing that a man who had sat in the cabi­net for over a decade, a man who chaired the ANC for 10 years, would say such a to­tally il­lit­er­ate thing.

Now you sit in par­lia­ment as a shadow of your for­mer rev­o­lu­tion­ary self, ut­ter­ing one em­bar­rass­ing procla­ma­tion af­ter an­other.

It is spine­less peo­ple like you who have made many South Africans give up on form­ing an al­ter­na­tive po­lit­i­cal party. Your logic is of lower qual­ity than even young peo­ple lead­ing par­ties such as the EFF and the DA. You are sup­posed to be lead­ing them to con­sol­i­date the op­po­si­tion and cre­ate a cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive; in­stead, you have be­come comic re­lief for the leg­is­la­ture. In­stead of a dignified el­der with some wis­dom to share, you are a laugh­ing stock.

Why don’t you re­tire from pol­i­tics while some of us still have a mod­icum of re­spect for you.

The only sen­si­ble sex-trade pol­icy ap­proach is the equal­ity model

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