Durban - ANC Chatsworth branch chairman and former councillor, Visvin Reddy, on Thursday apologised for his comment that Indians whining about the government should go to India.
He told the Daily News he was a disciplined member of the ANC and would “unconditionally” withdraw his statement if it had offended anyone.
His backtracking followed a stinging rebuke from the ANC, which distanced themselves from the comment originally posted on Facebook.
In a statement issued on Thursday by the party’s KwaZulu-Natal branch – and also posted on Reddy’s Facebook page – the ANC said they condemned the comment and would take it up with Reddy.
ANC provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, said that “as an organisation that promotes non-racialism as its core principle”, they viewed Reddy’s utterances as “totally uncalled for and not reflecting the principles of democracy”.
He said the ANC needed the support of Indians and it would “never stoop to the level of those who voice their disrespectful sentiments about this community”.
“It is a blatant lie that the ANC and its government are not receiving support from the Indian community, as we have in the past few months experienced an unprecedented growth in support in this community.
“We want to assure the Indian community that the ANC will continue to promote non-racialism and that we will continue to be the glue that holds our people together,” said Zikalala.
He also said they regretted any offence that Reddy’s statement might have caused and that the matter would be dealt with within the organisation.
“To continue reminding South Africans of the origins of Indian people is unwarranted and devoid of objective analysis,” said Zikalala.
The ANC’s provincial spokesman, Bongani Tembe, said the party would contact Reddy so he could explain what he meant.
In an interview with the Daily News on Thursday, Reddy said:
“It was taken out of context and was directed at one or two individuals who have been making disparaging comments about the ANC.
“One woman in particular, whom I have blocked from my Facebook page, was vicious in her utterances.”
The Daily News reported on Thursday that Reddy had drawn criticism for his Facebook post, but remained unapologetic, telling the Daily News that he stood by his controversial comments and took attacks on the ANC personally.
Reddy had written on his Facebook page:
“To you anti ANC commentators… wait until May 8. The ANC will still rule this country.
“You whiners should leave.
“Go to India and you will see what a good life we have here.
“Continue with your garbage and marginalise yourself further. Don’t blame the ANC blame yourself.
“You have not yet embraced democracy.
“Only a foolish Indian in SA will not engage the majority constructively.”
Reddy said he had since removed the offending post.
He sought to clarify his statement by claiming that when he referred to people going to India, he was making a comparison between the two countries.
“I never said Indians who don’t support the ANC should go back to India.
“I also didn’t draw any conclusions that support for the ANC has dropped, but is in fact growing in the Indian community,” he said.
He also reiterated that his comments were made in his own capacity and not on behalf of the ANC.
“I had no intention of upsetting anyone,” he said.
“I’ve always been responsible in my statements made about the future of the Indian community,” Reddy said.
“I’m aware that it’s critical in the upcoming elections for Indians to embrace the ruling party.”
On Twitter he also denied that he said anyone should go back to India.
Reddy’s Twitter update last night read: “Sensational headlines at its worst. Never said anyone should go back to India. My comments in Daily News clarified the issue.”
Indian leaders slammed Reddy’s comments.
Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, said no one should tell Indians born in South Africa to go to India.
MF member of Parliament Roy Bhoola said Reddy’s comments could breed division.
He said one could not force people to support a specific political party.