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Durban - ANC Chatsworth leader Visvin Reddy, who was suspended by the party at the weekend for telling Indians who criticise the ANC to go to India, said on Sunday that while he planned to co-operate during his disciplinary hearing, he had the backing of his branch.
Reddy’s Ward 73 branch on Sunday threw its weight behind its embattled leader, saying they were “shocked and disappointed” that the ANC had suspended him.
Reddy, who said he had not yet been told when his disciplinary hearing would take place, claimed he was looking forward to explaining the comments he had made on his Facebook page that landed him in hot water.
“I can’t speculate what will happen (at the disciplinary hearing), but I still believe this whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” he said.
“I have withdrawn and retracted what I said. I believe that this is just politicking on the part of the DA.”
The ANC, fearing that the party could lose a sizeable chunk of the Indian vote to the DA just days away from a general election, suspended Reddy on Saturday.
The party said it believed in non-racialism and did not associate sentiments that divided people on the basis of race, sex, colour or creed.
On his Facebook page Reddy had posted: “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.”
At the time, Reddy told the Daily News that he stood by his comments, which he said were not those of the ANC.
Reddy said on Sunday he believed the comments, which were directed at a few individuals, would not drive Indians away from voting for the ANC.
“My belief is when they vote, they will vote with their heads. They will say on May 7 they want to be part of the majority because they are part of this country.
“Over the years we have evolved as a community and we now see ourselves as one nation. I believe the Indian community will come out in their numbers and vote for the ANC. The people who are making these angry comments are people who support the DA.”
Suzanne Govender, secretary for the Ward 73 ANC branch, said Reddy’s Facebook comments were deliberately distorted to “suit the DA’s dirty political campaign”.
“We have no doubt that the truth will prevail and Reddy will be exonerated. Reddy has been at the forefront of defending the movement against attacks by the DA and has been outspoken on this regard.
“He remains the only Indian leader within the ANC to come to the defense (sic) of our President in the face of the malicious attacks on him by the DA,” Govender said in a statement.
Senior Indian ANC leaders in Durban, such as Logie Naidoo, have, however, rebuked Reddy for his comments.
“It is politically unacceptable, socially unsound and one cannot countenance such a comment and attack on the Indian community,” said Naidoo. “It is absolutely untenable that an ANC office bearer makes such an utterance.”
ANC chairman Senzo Mchunu also condemned Reddy’s remarks on Sunday, saying they were against the ANC’s policy of non-racialism.
“The ANC is a non-racial organisation and we don’t allow anything that casts doubt on that. In the past we have spoken against utterances by Mazibuye (African Forum) and have also spoken out when remarks were made during the Gupta saga.”
Mchunu said the ANC believed South Africa was a home for all racial groups, and that any racism was against ANC policies. “We don’t make policies on Facebook but we make our policies once every five years (at policy conferences).”