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Debate about SA unity and non-racialism turns into divisive slanging match in Cape legislature

The South African Flag. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

The South African Flag. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 17, 2022

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Cape Town - A legislature debate about the commitment to a non-racial and united South Africa turned into a slanging match with members hurling accusations of racism, homophobia and intolerance at each other.

The debate, sponsored by provincial leader of the opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC), was meant to mark the 54th anniversary of the death of the academic, Professor ZK Matthews. Matthews is credited with having been one of the drivers of the Freedom Charter.

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In his contribution to the debate, Dugmore urged his colleagues on both sides of the legislature to “build bridges and not widen the chasms that divide us”.

He said that the majority of the people of South Africa and the Western Cape continue to suffer from poverty, deprivation, gender and other discrimination.

DA MPL Matlhodi Maseko brought up the issue of District Six to show the ANC’s failures and said that since democracy five ANC presidents have failed in their promises to the people of District Six who were forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act.

ANC MPL Pat Lekker said there were people in the Western Cape promoting the idea of federalism and independence because they wanted a return to the racist past.

GOOD Party MPL Shaun August said: “DA-led municipalities in this province make achieving a non-racial and united South Africa a pipe dream as their budget and integrated development plans sow further division, entrench poverty and criminalise not having.”

ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians quoted the lyrics of the Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney classic Ebony and Ivory, and said: “We are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally.”

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DA MPL Ricardo Mackenzie accused Christians and the ACDP of hypocrisy and homophobia, citing the fact that last week Christians trashed the Western Cape’s draft guidelines on gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools.

In his tirade against the draft guidelines, Christians had condemned the idea of allowing binary pronouns such as “his” and “hers” to be changed to non-binary “them” and “they” as “evil and ungodly”.

Mackenzie said: “Many members opposite me have demonstrated that they are not ready to unite South Africa. They themselves are not heeding the call of tolerance, and not belittling the next person.”

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