'Fake and false': EFF calls off SMG BMW protests as row over racist ad is resolved

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  • The Western Cape EFF has called off its protest against SMG BMW after its concerns over a recruitment agency's job advert preferring a white candidate were resolved. 
  • This was after a picket at the dealership's Century City branch, just after the party's Clicks shutdown ended. 
  • The EFF said SMG BMW had explained that it was not responsible for the ad, and had also quickly sought to discuss the matter instead of fobbing the party off. 

The EFF in the Western Cape will not go ahead with protests against SMG BMW branches over a job advertisement seemingly favouring a white candidate after accepting the advert was not the company's fault.

"The EFF has engaged with the SMG Group and resolved that the advert was unfortunate and not produced by them. Accordingly, we will not be pursuing any further protest action against BMW or the SMG Group," said the party's provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego.

READ | 'We are innocent' - Cape Town BMW branch responds to EFF protest over job advert for 'white' person

In a statement, he said the EFF had met with the Sean McCarthy Group (SMG) to discuss the allegations of racism against them following a report in the Mail & Guardian. The publication reported on an advertisement seeking, preferably, a white man for a position. 

Last Friday, former MPL in the Western Cape legislature and EFF member Yusuf Joseph led a picket outside SMG's Century City BMW branch over the issue.

At the time, the company told News24 it was the innocent victim of an unsolicited bid by recruitment agency Julian Schlemmer and Associates, who had got wind of a resignation.

Dealer principal at Century City Ryan Rheeder said: "There was no job to fill."

He said a marketing manager had resigned and emigrated and that the post had been made redundant.

Comment was not immediately available from Schlemmer on Friday.

According to the Mail & Guardian, Schlemmer initially refused to answer their questions, specifically ahead of their publishing, only to say that his company "has no racial bias".

He later sent an email to the SMG group "apologising for any inconvenience caused", claiming to have heard "through the Durban market, of a potential vacancy at SMG as a result of a manager leaving", the report said.

'Fake, false'

In the EFF's announcement on Friday, Xego said: "An advert was circulated detailing a job placement in which white males were called to apply as a priority.

"This level of racism represents a disgusting culture of the prioritisation of white people for jobs in a country where majority black people are unemployed.

"Upon further investigation, the EFF has found that the advertisement issued on SMG's behalf was fake.

"This provocation is just a further indicator that there are racists in this country who find joy in provoking the emotions and pain of black people and using genuine rage to distort efforts against racism."

Xego told News24 that the difference between the SMG BMW issue and the Clicks one was that SMG BMW had immediately responded to explain what had happened.

He said this was unlike Clicks which opted to go to court first for an order against their planned protests. 

He said SMG BMW had agreed that their protest over the issue was legitimate.

Rheeder confirmed on Friday that the matter had been settled "with honesty and integrity" and that the EFF had accepted that the allegation against them was false.

He said there was no material settlement or donations involved in resolving the row.

READ | I'm tired of dancing around inclusion and diversity issues, says ex-Clicks director after exit

Xego said there was no material component to the resolution.

Clicks earlier came under fire for posting a Unilever TRESemmé Campaign on its website, and conceded that the images depicting a black model's hair as "dry and damaged" and a white model's hair as "normal" was racist.

After three days of store shutdowns by EFF supporters, the party called a truce with Clicks and Unilever, the protests were called off and commitments to donate sanitary towels to the poor via the EFF were made.

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