Don’t diss SA, British MP tells expats

2013-09-27 09:01

British Labour Party MP Peter Hain has reprimanded South African expats, telling them to stop seizing every available opportunity to bash and speak ill of the country of their birth.

Addressing the South African Chamber of Commerce in London recently, Hain, who was raised in Pretoria and attended Pretoria Boys High, said South African expats to the UK should rather spend their time and energy contributing towards a better South Africa.

He told City Press that although not fashionable, it had become common for South Africans in the UK, New Zealand and Australia to spend vast amounts of time telling others how bad and crime-ridden the country had become.

“Look, I was forthright about the lack of skills, corruption and other issues facing the beautiful country. But I felt it was unfair for people who benefited from the country’s private education and skills to find nothing good to say about it.

“Without any exception, almost all South African expats to this country benefited from a good primary education and university degrees, and in many cases they obtained post-degree education in South Africa.

“Enormous amounts of money have been invested in these people. They shouldn’t talk it down when they have gained so much from it.”

Hain said he understood it was a free world and that everyone has a right to live in any country and say whatever they want to say about other countries.

“But they must at least give a balanced view of the situation. I understand crime is a huge problem. I know there is political uncertainty but South Africa is by far a better country than it was under apartheid.”

The anti-apartheid activist, who served in the cabinets of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, visited South Africa early this year to shoot a documentary about the Marikana Massacre. The documentary, which he shot for the BBC is titled: South Africa: The Massacre that Changed a Nation.

Although the ANC has not covered itself in glory over the past two decades, Hain said, people should not forget that many of the social problems affecting the country were a direct result of apartheid.

“But political leaders should also take responsibility. We can’t blame apartheid forever and ever. Yes, we all know the system was evil, but today’s political leadership leaves much to be desired.”

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