We must fight for fairness – Maimane

2018-05-13 05:52
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Netwerk24)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Netwerk24)

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DA leader Mmusi Maimane has clarified that his remarks about white privilege were not aimed at lambasting white people or taking anything away from them, but were rather an attempt to help make everyone recognise the major inequalities in South Africa.

This follows a week of drama resulting from a City Press story last Sunday about a heated caucus meeting that debated Maimane’s white privilege comments on Freedom Day.

Maimane’s exact words were: “When we speak the truth, there is such a thing that we must confront of white privilege and black poverty.”

Maimane told City Press’ sister publication Rapport that he stands by his words, because they are based on the DA’s constitution, which he is led by.

“It is in our constitution and we have to fight for fairness. We also agreed on the clause about diversity.

“My wife is white. I am black. We grew up during the same time. But what you can’t debate is that educational spending on white children during apartheid amounted to R70 per day per child, compared to R2.85 for black children.

“That was the system that existed at that time. I argue that in today’s South Africa, if you look at services in different townships, you can immediately know which race lives where. We have to fight hard to overcome the injustices.”

This week’s Thursday caucus meeting was more peaceful.

At the heart of last week’s tension was the fear that Maimane’s comments could lead to less support for the DA and that scores of MPs could be without work after next year’s election.

Anchen Dreyer, DA caucus chairperson, said about 30 members of the DA’s caucus participated in the debate.

“There was a long list of speakers, longer than ever before. Then three people were singled out and that gives a warped perspective. It’s very unfair.”

Maimane said his message was that whites and blacks had to work together to tackle inequality.

That message was repeated at Thursday’s caucus.

He said the difference in life expectancy between whites and blacks was 20 years. Income inequality was five to one.

“If you recognise the inequality, we have to join hands to address it. That is why my message to white South Africans is that I don’t see them as the problem. I see them as a solution in the cooperative effort to rectify the injustices.”

Maimane said he did not see the debate as an attack on his leadership.

Former DA leader Helen Zille herself said the party stands for black advancement.

“Just because we are fighting for the upliftment of black citizens does not mean we want to impoverish white South Africans.

“But if the DA does not succeed in getting black and white South Africans to work together, a revolving nationalism will exist. In the apartheid years there was Afrikaner nationalism, today you have African nationalism and before long you will have Zulu nationalism. That is not the South Africa we want.”

Even though some members said the DA was bleeding, Maimane said the party would do better in the 2019 elections.

“The DA is a big organisation and we are growing. People say the caucus in Cape Town is fighting, as if we only govern in Cape Town. The organisation is bigger than ever and has more public representatives than ever, and we govern in more places than ever.

“The idea also exists that the DA will suddenly find itself struggling in the Western Cape. In comparison with what? What is the ANC doing there? Does one have to accept that voters are going to get up in the morning and forget the fact that the DA is governing well there? Money was not stolen. Of course people recognise that,” Maimane asserted.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane

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