Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has rubbished claims by the FF Plus that affirmative action and black economic empowerment (BEE) are impoverishing white people.
"Affirmative Action and BEE are constitutional imperatives designed in terms of section nine of the Constitution to correct the inequality and exclusion faced mainly by black people, namely Africans, coloureds and Indians... which was caused by apartheid laws," Zuma said on Wednesday in reply to questions in the National Assembly.
Freedom Front Plus MP Anton Alberts claimed statistics showed that blacks owned more property than whites, and that "an equal number of black and white people own shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange".
Zuma disputed Alberts's assertions.
"It is an undisputable fact that white compatriots still control the South African economy and disproportionately own most of the prime land in the country," he told MPs.
Zuma quoted from the Census 2011 results, which indicated that whites earned six times more than blacks.
"In relation to property ownership, the SA Property Sector Charter Council 2010 report, estimates that of the total R4.9 trillion market capitalisation in the sector, R3 trillion falls within historically white residential areas, where the majority of these properties are still owned by white people."
Zuma said the issue of poor whites was not a new concept in South Africa.
"The only difference is that government looks after all citizens equally, while in the past there were special programmes and interventions to alleviate white poverty and reserve jobs for unskilled white citizens."
Alberts later told Zuma the research he quoted was "dubious".
"It is basically just stated that they [whites] are okay, the census shows they're okay. There are about a million of them living in shacks, representing about 20% of white people."
Alberts said BEE policies were also not benefiting other minorities like coloureds.
"Your policies are creating new victims. Twenty to 50 years from now we will be standing there and say we will have to rectify the mistakes of the past that the ANC has created, by helping white people," Alberts said.
Zuma then accused Alberts of denialism.
"If you take into account the history of racial discrimination in this country, the reality is that the majority of black people still suffer as they did many years ago," Zuma said.
The president said he had visited a white squatter camp in Pretoria and had helped its residents with their problems.
"There is no way you can say that in 20 years to come you will stand here and be saying you are correcting the mess of the ANC.
"We are actually trying to make all South Africans to change the quality of their lives, including whites."