Port Elizabeth - Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga has come out to support DA leader Mmusi Maimane's comments on "white privilege and black poverty".
This follows a City Press report on Sunday that Maimane came under fire from three senior MPs - Chief Whip John Steenhuisen, Deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters and MP and deputy chairwoman of the party's federal council Natasha Mazzone - at a parliamentary caucus meeting.
The three reportedly voiced concern that Maimane's remarks may alienate white voters ahead of next year’s general election, after which the party seeks to take control of Gauteng.
Maimane last month told a Freedom Day rally in Soshanguve that “white privilege and black poverty” must be confronted.
Bhanga said he was right to raise the matter, and that the legacy of apartheid continued to determine who had access to opportunities.
"Apartheid was a system designed to benefit white South Africans and disadvantage black South Africans. The privilege associated with that system lives on and can never be denied or be swept under the carpet. I therefore agree with the DA’s Federal Leader, Mmusi Maimane, when he says that the time has come for South Africans to confront “white privilege and black poverty'."
Bhanga said that nowhere was the historical imbalance clearer than in the spatial development of the country, which placed white people in a privileged position and black people in a disadvantaged position.
"The DA’s position is to redress the imbalances by building a South African society in which individuals can compete in the same space with equal opportunities. Unfortunately the current social and economic reality is that access to opportunities is still defined by the haves versus the have nots."
In the meanwhile, the DA has dismissed reports that senior leaders are at loggerheads over Maimane's remarks.
Mazzone has told media that the party’s top brass did not attack the party leader for his comments, but had engaged in a healthy discussion on the subject.
Mazzone has tweeted that she herself was a privileged individual. "I use myself as an example, I was extremely privileged. My father however, arrived here with NOTHING, was not privileged. My job is to ensure that we create an equal South Africa where we ALL have the same opportunities! We mustn't be scared to talk about these things.
"My father arrived from Naples in Italy, he was dark and could not speak English or Afrikaans, but he was a great chef. He built himself up from nothing to make a good life for his family. I HONOUR and thank my father." she tweeted.
African News Agency/ANA