Race still pervades politics - Maimane

2015-03-16 15:23
(<a href=https://twitter.com/JacaNews>Jacaranda Newsteam</a> via Twitter)

(Jacaranda Newsteam via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - Race remains a "powerful trigger" in South African politics more than 20 years after the first democratic elections, DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.

Now, Maimane said, it is the ANC, that uses racial identity to try to discredit the DA.

"'You're a hired native,' they call me," Maimane told foreign journalists.

Maimane was referring to a comment in Parliament last year by Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Sisulu later retracted the remark.

South Africa was dubbed the "rainbow nation" after former president Nelson Mandela presided over the transition to democracy, ending bitter confrontation between the white minority and the black majority.

But race remains a sensitive topic, partly because whites still control much of the economy.

The DA gained in elections last year. Some ANC supporters have suggested the opposition party is trying to co-opt blacks for broader appeal.

"I think it's an offense to black people to suggest that they can suddenly be called up as cattle," Maimane told members of the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southern Africa.

"Race is still a powerful trigger in South Africa," he said, citing alleged racist commentary on social media.

The ANC said last week that the DA protected "white privilege" and had sought to institute discriminatory policies reminiscent of apartheid.

President Jacob Zuma recently said South Africa had defeated "the demon of institutionalised racism and apartheid”.

In parliament last month, Maimane described Zuma as a "broken man”, citing alleged corruption and mismanagement.

The speech was "not seen as a race-based attack, it's seen as critique on his leadership," Maimane said.

The reaction could have been different if DA leader Helen Zille had spoken, he said.

Asked about accusations that he was an "Uncle Tom", Maimane asked a journalist to repeat the derogatory phrase.

He joked: "I just want to be clear when you insult me."

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  helen zille  |  mmusi maimane  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015  |  politics  |  racism

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