Councilor Mongameli Bobani of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) issued a cheeky comment saying that South African whites should give up their upmarket homes and live in shacks. The racial division between South African people continues to grow, despite a call to reconcile differences. The mayor of Port Elizabeth, Ben Fihla, and Deputy Executive Major Chippa Ngcolomba did not contest the comment during a meeting early this week.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality Ratepayers Association (NMBRA) received calls from concerned and angry residents who were alarmed by the racist remark and demanded an explanation. It is not clear why such a comment was spoken after months of trying to improve the administration of the association after mismanagement was confirmed.
During September 2013, the MEC of local government, Mlibo Qoboshyane, promised to place the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality under administration following his failure to deliver on regulations within the council. Qoboshyane appointed Mr. Mbabisa as City Manager (CM) and the NMBRA agreed to give him a chance to turn the failed management into a workable solution.
The NMBRA met with the CM in January this year, and he was shocked at the vast amount of issues needing clarification. The CM indicated the importance attached to job creation and investment. The NMBRA warned the CM that political interference, corruption and mismanagement would possibly delay the seriousness and cause intimidation. It is seen as unfortunate that the comments uttered about white people moving into shacks was not challenged during the recent meetings. Confusion was indicated as Mayor Fihla said the African National Congress (ANC) party made a decision to implement a plan to expand investments within that city. Questions on why the strategy could hinge on irresponsible and unconstitutional removal of whites from their homes for economic growth are now asked.
Mayor Fihla, together with his deputy and Councilor Bobani disrespect the constitution of South Africa and the oath taken to do mean nothing. It is reported that the Mayor and his deputy have focused on corruption and incompetence. The comments targeting the minority group of whites is in direct opposition to the ANC’s Freedom Charter. The NMBRA are demanding their resignation regarding their failure to uphold their mandate of respecting the law by issuing dangerous and worrying comments about white people.
The ANC is the leading party for the NMB region situated in the Eastern Cape and the UDM only managed to secure 1.24 percent in the local elections held in May this year. The last official census released claimed that over one million South African people live in the NMB area and only sixteen percent of the population was white. The NMB region census revealed that over sixty percent of the people living in that area are black.
Since democracy in 1994, it was estimated that over one million white people already live in shacks around South Africa. Meanwhile, the cheeky comment of moving South Africa white people from their up-market homes spread across the social media channels, causing a flurry of hate speech and racial remarks. The South African municipal leaders should refrain from racial comments and lead by example.
By Laura Oneale