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NoiseMaker -Turning clock back on race relations

Brandon Huntley, a white South African, made global news this week with his application for asylum in Canada.

Huntley claimed to have been the victim of several robberies and muggings by blacks who singled him out because he is white.

Ha! What a load of baloney, as the Americans would say.

As we at Newsmakers & Noisemakers can assure you, the criminals in South Africa do not care so much about the colour of your skin, as they do about the colour and amount of  notes in your wallet.

Only recently, one of our very black members was robbed at gunpoint in the Honeydew area of Johannesburg. A police report was made but nothing was recovered. If Huntley was robbed, it’s probably got something to do with the fact that he had something rob-able.

Admittedly, whites and foreigners appear to be softer targets for South African robbers; but surely this applies to all races –– black, white, asian or other.

The above is common knowledge and we will not waste time debating whether or not Huntley is right in this respect. Such a claim is frivolous, to say the least.

What particularly irks us, however, is where he cites an ‘inability or unwillingness by the government and security forces to protect white South Africans from persecution by African South Africans.’

First, Mr Huntley, in order to get asylum, paints a picture where black South Africans are robbing and persecuting white South Africans.

This statement is blatantly racist, whichever way you look at it. Whites are doing no wrong, he seems to be saying.

Secondly, he insinuates that white South Africans have no representation or voice in government or the security forces. As Helen Zille will tell you, again this is an inaccurate generalisation.

The danger with a claim such as this is that it reinforces the controversial view held in some radical African quarters that whites are not really Africans –– they are not here to stay. If things get tough for them, the thinking goes, they can always go back to “their countries”.

It makes Robert Mugabe’s divisive claims that whites should “go back to Britain” seem reasonable.

The South African government and people have a lot of shortcomings, especially as far as xenophobia and race relations go, but whites are part of the problem and should be part of the solution.

Mr Huntley has the right to settle in a country of his choice, but through this selfish and short-sighted action, he is simply throwing spanners into the work being done by many individuals, black and white, to make South Africa a model of democracy and multi-racial co-existence in Africa.

Fortunately, the Canadian government has seen through his charade and challenged the decision by the immigration tribunal to grant him refugee status.

To you Brandon we say  thanks for turning the clock back on race relations, boet.

Newsmaker

Libe Moremoholo

On a more positive note, our newsmaker for this week is All Basotho Convention’s new youth leader Libe Moremoholo.

Moremoholo was overwhelmingly elected as youth president of the party in a contest that pitted him against interim leader Pitso Maisa. Sello Mokane also threw his hat in the ring but apparently he never stood a chance.

We will not be so naive as to boldly declare here on these pages that all is fine and dandy within the main opposition or between these two, but the recent youth elections were a breath of fresh air.

Maisa and Moremoholo showed mutual respect for each other during the campaign for the post. However, even in victory Moremoholo remained magnanimous.

“Maisa is our political icon as ABC youth,” Moremoholo was quoted as saying in our sister paper, the Lesotho Times.

“His expertise is of value and we would be naive not to (exploit) it,” he added.

Maisa, on his own part was equally gracious in defeat.

The importance of this kind of engagement is that it sets the tone for peaceful and harmonious elections among the younger generations.

If the leaders of the major parties showed such mutual respect, perhaps one day we might actually see a day when the leader of one party calls the leader of the other to congratulate him or her on an election victory, as happened in America when Barack Obama defeated John McCain.

It is high time peaceful, democratic elections became the norm, and not the exception, in Africa. More leaders like Moremoholo and Maisa are needed.

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