Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

Speaking of South Africa and racism...

Here's this article dealing with a new upwelling of racism in South Africa (however, it's the South African President who's bringing charges of racism that those he targets are denying vigorously):

S.Africa's Mbeki, opposition in racism row

22 Oct 2004 14:54:28 GMTSource: ReutersBy Gordon Bell

CAPE TOWN, Oct 22 (Reuters) - South Africa grappled with a new row over racism on Friday after a sharp exchange between President Thabo Mbeki and the largely white opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) drew shouts and catcalls in parliament.

The DA, which draws most of its support from white voters and has taken a confrontational stance against the ruling African National Congress (ANC), sparked Mbeki's ire on Thursday by suggesting that he had underplayed the significance of rape in South Africa's AIDS crisis.

Mbeki, who often charges South Africa's whites with failing to adapt to post-apartheid realities, fired a fresh shot on Friday by publishing a transcript of the dispute in his on-line newsletter.

"I will not be kept quiet while others whose minds have been corrupted by the disease of racism, accuse us, the black people of South Africa, Africa and the world, as being, by virtue of our Africanness and skin colour, lazy, liars, foul-smelling, diseased, corrupt, violent, amoral, sexually depraved, animalistic, savage and rapist," Mbeki said.

The controversy in parliament marks the latest harsh words over race in South Africa, which saw white rule end in 1994 but continues to see a huge economic divide between the 10 percent white minority and the black majority.

Mbeki has increasingly pushed racism to the forefront of discourse in South Africa, unlike his predecessor Nelson Mandela who built his five years in power around reconciliation between white and black citizens.

South Africa has the highest caseload of HIV in the world, with an estimated 5.6 million of its 45 million population infected. It also suffers one of the highest incidences of rape in the world.

DA legislator Ryan Coetzee also pointedly asked Mbeki if he intended to lead the country's fight against AIDS -- repeating by implication the charge often lodged by critics that Mbeki has failed to come to grips with a disease which infects one out of nine South Africans.

Mbeki replied by saying he did not intend to discuss AIDS but would instead focus on what he saw as the subtext of the question -- racism.

"The millions of Africans did not fight against apartheid racism and white domination to create space for them to continue to be subjected to dehumanising, demeaning and insulting racism," Mbeki said in comments which were also published on Friday by the ANC's official online newsletter.

The DA described Mbeki's response as "disgraceful", saying he had preferred to "rant on about the stereotypes of black people that he believes whites harbour" than address issues regarding the pandemic.

"Instead the president said he would talk about racism. And he did so, reciting a litany of racist caricatures that bordered on the pornographic, and implying that the DA believed them," DA
leader Tony Leon wrote in his weekly letter on Friday.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L22233386.htm

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