DA man defects to ANC after ‘racist’ dispute

2014-04-06 14:00

In the latest race row to rock the DA, the party has cleared one of its Gauteng councillors of racism, but has sent him for “cultural sensitivity training” to help him work better with people.

The DA’s handling of the case is what prompted Ekurhuleni councillor Hendrick Shilabe to announce his defection to the ANC during a dramatic council meeting last week.

Shilabe accused fellow caucus member Benno Robinson of making “racist” remarks towards him over the past eight years and the DA of failing to act.

Shilabe alleged in an affidavit that Robinson “often called me ‘boykie’ (sic) and ‘darkie’, which is clearly derogatory and racist”.

Other allegations include Robinson saying black people only attended meetings for the food and that he told Shilabe not to do constituency work in the plot areas where mostly white people lived.

Robinson denied to City Press that he had made racist remarks, but admitted that his working relationship with Shilabe was strained.

The affidavit formed part of Shilabe’s original internal complaint against Robinson. It was handed to council Speaker Patricia Kumalo last week with 11 supporting affidavits from fellow party leaders and members.

They asked Kumalo to submit these to the SA Human Rights Commission.

Shilabe said he had handed the complaint to DA leader Helen Zille after the province had cleared Robinson of wrongdoing.

DA MP Hendrik Schmidt, chairperson of the party’s federal legal commission, said the case against Robinson was thrown out a few weeks ago.

The commission called more than 40 witnesses.

It consulted a handwriting analyst who confirmed that the diary entries detailing the “racist” incidents were fraudulent. “The evidence was contradictory and the versions in the affidavits were conflicting,” Schmidt said.

“We recommended that [Robinson] go for cultural sensitivity training because we felt that he could benefit because of the way he was dealing with people,” Schmidt said.

“This had to do with human relations, white and black, and not racism.” Independent Democrats MP John Gunda told City Press that he would announce his defection to the ANC within the next two weeks.

Gunda, who is from the Northern Cape, refused to join the DA with fellow ID caucus members because he said he did not believe in liberalism.

“I don’t like the politics of the DA, it is not the future of this country,” he said.

So far, 11 Gauteng councillors and one MP have crossed to the ANC. Gauteng DA leader John Moodey said: “Shilabe has a personal vendetta against Robinson.

“He didn’t get what he wanted, and then the opportunity came and he’s gone.

“As far as I’m concerned he went for the wrong reasons.”

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