The Eastern Cape MEC of Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi was recently accused of racist behaviour by the DA’s Veliswa Mvenya. (See: ANC must immediately suspend racist MEC Sihlwayi)
It has come to my attention that the provincial chairwoman of the DA, MPL Ms. Veliswa Mvenya, has laid an ill-conceived charge of racism against me with the Speaker of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Her Excellency Ms. Noxolo Kiviet.
For someone with my background and ANC struggle credentials this is a serious insult, because I have dedicated my whole life to the struggle against racism and sexism. My positions as MEC for Social Development, which is tasked with the duty to fight poverty and the way that it expresses itself as a racial demographic primarily affecting black South Africans, as well as being a member of the National Working Committee of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), testify to this commitment that I live out every day.
Furthermore, my political party the African National Congress has a proud history of fighting against all forms of oppression and discrimination, including racism. Our non-racial credentials are beyond reproach, we have written it with the blood of our liberation fighters in the history books of our beloved country. The Freedom Charter and our Constitution (widely acknowledged as the most progressive constitution in the world) were first and foremost the work of the ANC, and it remains the daily duty of every member of the ANC to make sure that these are living documents implemented to redress the injustices of our apartheid past and to ensure a better life for all South Africans – but especially for all the black people of South Africa who continue to suffer the consequences of our racist past. As a loyal member of the ANC, and servant of my people, this is a task that I take very seriously, and which I will carry out without fear, favour or apology.
As a DA member with it’s compromised history regarding racism (with the recently racist behavior of Dianne Kohler Barnard, as only the latest example in a never-ending litany of racist behaviour), it is not surprising that Ms. Veliswa Mvenya confuses affirmative action and black economic empowerment with racism. Like her party (with it’s overwhelming political history of protecting and serving white privilege), she does not seem to appreciate the basic reality that racial equality can only be achieved when the playing field for all racial groups is equal. It is a harsh reality that because of our apartheid history this is not yet the case. We must remember that the equal treatment of unequal people is simply to perpetuate injustice and exploitation. That is why our Constitution provides for affirmative action, and why Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in business and many other areas of society is generally accepted NOT as racist, but as essential to redress racially based inequality that persists.
Affirmative action in general, and specifically BEE, are genuine instruments to address our historical legacy with the perpetual inequalities and very real disadvantages that black people (mostly so African people) continue to suffer up to this day. Therefore by the very same token that it is not racist to enquire about the race of a person (or the racial ownership/shareholding of a company) in order to implement Black Economic Empowerment, it is thus also not racist to enquire about the race of the young people who attended the government funded and organized youth camps in our province, that my department (the Department of Social Development) is responsible for.
It should be noted that these youth camps are compelled by statute to comply with the principles of youth development as captured in Section 4 of the National Youth Development Act (NYDA):
- Recognition of the manner in which youth has been affected by the imbalances of the past and the need to redress these imbalances of the past through more equitable policies, programmes and the allocation of resources.
- Creation of an environment that supports the continued development and learning of youth.
The statistics of black poverty and disempowerment is there for all to see who want to see it: According to Statistics South Africa 70% of black young people between the ages of 14 to 35 are unemployed. Most of our black youth under the age of 35 have not been formally trained in any occupational skill.
With all of the above in mind I made the enquiries that I have made about the racial demographics of those who attended our youth camps this year. As I have already indicated these youth camps are organized and funded by government. It is common knowledge that government is short of funds to achieve our objectives to improve the lives of our people, therefore it is my duty to ensure that the tax payers money that we spend on these camps are correctly targeted and utilized to empower disadvantaged black youth. I am therefore totally unapologetic about my insistence that black, and specifically African, youth should primarily be served and empowered by these camps, and in this context I made the internal enquiry that I directed through my Chief of Staff about the inclusion of white youth in the camps that we had this year – for me not to have done so would have been a gross dereliction of my duties as MEC.
Ms. Mvenya is a black African woman who knows the continued gross inequalities and deprivation that young people suffer in our black and especially African communities, yet she chooses to ignore such and to play cynical political games trying to denounce my genuine efforts to find redress for these as racist. She should be ashamed of herself! Has she got no self-respect? In her we sadly see what Steven Bantu Biko so aptly described as white colonialism of the black mind.
Her behavior is once again a demonstration of how black people are compromised and used to serve the interests of white privilege in the DA.
Just recently there was another example of this pathetic servitude to white interests when the so-called leader of the DA, Mr. Mmusi Maimane, tangled himself into a neat little knot over the Stellenbosch University language policy debacle. He tripped over himself trying to defend Afrikaans as the main language of instruction at the university, and in doing so alienated himself from the black student struggle for a more inclusive language policy. So instead of being the DA’s ‘great black hope’, he has exposed himself as a black front-man defending white minority privilege. The real leaders and bosses of the DA continue to be Athol Trollop and James Selfe, who shamelessly use black DA members to do their dirty work.
While Maimane seems to be beyond redemption in having sold his soul to front for these white masters in the guise of being the ‘black DA leader’, I still – as a proud African women leader – want to make a heartfelt call to my fellow black sister: “Veliswa, stop allowing yourself to be used and abused by these white men, you should know better!”
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