Solidarity to lodge UN, HRC complaints over 'racism double standards'

2017-05-07 21:10
Trade Union Solidarity hosts a panel discussion on selective racism after releasing its report on the matter (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Trade Union Solidarity hosts a panel discussion on selective racism after releasing its report on the matter (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Solidarity will submit a petition to Parliament on Monday requesting a debate on "double standards" that prevail in the handling of racism and possible consequences thereof, the union said on Sunday.

The union said it will petition Parliament about the selective way in which racism is being dealt with in SA and then file complaints about this matter with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the International Human Rights Commission and the International Labour Organisation.

Solidarity will also request the UN's Human Rights Commission to send a delegation to SA to investigate its complaint.

The complaint directed at the UN's Human Rights Commission contains a request that government provide further information and that Solidarity be given an opportunity to make a submission to the UN commission, said Solidarity in a statement.

"Our aim with this is to re-establish objectivity in South Africa as far as race is concerned. Dealing with race in a subjective manner has become systemic and it is justified by the system. Because it has become systemic, it would be expedient if a watchdog from outside could facilitate a change," Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said.

Selective racism

According to the statement, about 405 000 South Africans have signed a petition in support of Solidarity's complaint.

The complaint comes as a result of a Solidarity research report and conference that investigated and analysed the phenomenon of selective racism.

The investigation clearly revealed that the occurrence of racism in SA is dealt with in a selective manner, the statement claimed.

SA is very tolerant when it comes to racial slurs made by South Africans in positions of power, but are totally intolerant when it comes to slurs made by ordinary white South Africans who have no power, the statement said.

"In an analysis of the phenomenon, Solidarity points out that estate agent Penny Sparrow's statements about black South Africans had 4 501 media hits, while Julius Malema's statements that white South Africans will not be slaughtered just yet, and that their peace must be disturbed, only had 163 hits," said the statement.

Solidarity indicates in its complaint how the SAHRC, too, handles racism selectively.

For example, the SAHRC has not investigated any high profile black South African like Julius Malema, Jacob Zuma, Lulu Xingwane, but ordinary white South Africans like Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and Justin van Vuuren have been investigated at the HRC's own initiative, the statement revealed.

"We cannot pretend that it is right when Jacob Zuma says all problems started when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the country and then uses it to find justification for all problems, even protest actions against him, by blaming white people.

"We cannot remain silent when Julius Malema says his aim is to disturb white people's peace and white people must realise that they are only visitors here. That is xenophobic language.

"We cannot allow it when a Mathematics teacher, Tlou Molele, says being white is a genetic fault, and we also cannot allow that the many other examples that feature in our complaint and report, are ignored," said Hermann.

Formal investigation

Apart from the petition on Monday, Solidarity will submit a complaint to the Human Rights Commission on Tuesday.

This complaint focuses on the HRC's subjective handling of the matter and an investigation will be requested.

On Wednesday, the union will submit complaints about race quotas in the workplace and in sports at the offices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva.

"A formal investigation and hearing will be requested in this regard," said Hermann.

On Thursday, at the offices of the UN's Human Rights Commission also in Geneva, Solidarity will submit another complaint.

The commission will be requested to send a delegation to South Africa to obtain feedback from government and that Solidarity be given an opportunity to address the Commission.

On Friday the union will submit another complaint to the United Nation's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva.

The complaint is submitted in terms of this commission's early warning and urgent action procedure, Solidarity said.

"A request that more information be obtained from the South African Human Rights Commission and that an investigation be launched in South Africa will be included in the complaint," said Hermann.

Also included is a request that recommendations be made to the South African government.

Read more on:    un  |  solidarity  |  sahrc  |  politics  |  racism

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