KZN forms special committee to look into threat to social cohesion

2014-03-06 00:00

THE KZN government is feeling the pressure exerted by interest groups that believe that Indians, rather than Africans, are in control of the province’s economy and are beneficiaries of the equity laws.

Premier Senzo Mchunu used his State of the Province address yesterday to announce a special cohesion committee to research threats to social cohesion and make recommendations to provincial government.

Professor Paulos Zulu will head the committee, while Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Vasu Gounden and Paddy Kearney also will serve on the committee.

Mchunu said the committee would research, investigate, consult and report on the nature of these threats to social cohesion and make recommendations to the provincial executive council.

“Where there are genuine concerns raised, we will ensure these are not left unattended,” he said.

He said the executive council was concerned about the pronouncements and activities of certain groups that attacked the fundamental values of non-racialism.

He was referring to the Mazibuye African Forum (MAF) and Imbumba Business Empowerment Group, which had raised concerns about Indians’ alleged stranglehold on the provincial economy.

MAF wants Indians to be excluded from affirmative action and black economic empowerment, and Imbumba wants previously disadvantaged small businesses to be considered in the economy by the government.

The special committee’s formation comes hot on the heels of the establishment of two other provincial government task teams led by MECs.

The committee’s formation was met with mixed reaction.

MAF founding leader Zweli Sang­weni said they welcomed the committee, but strongly believed that social cohesion went hand in hand with economic transformation.

“They can bring academics, but we are sure evidence is there for everyone to see,” Sangweni said.

The IFP’s Blessed Gwala said, “We as members of the legislature are aware that each time when there are problems, many committees are established without any tangible results.”

The DA’s Sizwe Mchunu questioned why it took the premier so long to intervene. “Is it just a plot to try and regain the faith of people of Indian origin? Clearly Indian people in this province have been insulted by racist statements made by organisations like Mazibuye,” he said.

ACDP’s Joann Downs said, “Anything which helps to put to bed racism from

anybody is welcomed. There is still a way to go with some of our attitudes.”

Zulu said the committee was expected to undertake its work within six months.

“I believe the committee can conduct research to bring to the fore sensitive issues that impinge on the potential of the province,” he said.

SA Minority Rights Equality Forum convenor Ashin Singh said: “Any attempt to address race issues is welcomed. The intention is good.”

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