Calls are mounting for EFF leader Julius Malema to be hauled over the coals for his remarks that the majority of Indians are racists.
He was addressing his party’s Youth Day event in Klerksdorp in North West last weekend.
But with model and TV personality Shashi Naidoo’s post referring to Gaza as a s***hole and Joburg woman Alochna Moodley allegedly using the K-word when referring to passengers on a Kulula flight, their comments added fuel to the debate.
Moodley was subsequently fired on Friday by her company, SMC Pneumatics South Africa.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo of Think Tank Services accused some political leaders of exploiting the situation rather than coming up with plans to curb racial tensions.
“The idea of a rainbow nation died when former president Nelson Mandela stepped down as president of the country.”
He said Mandela’s successors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, had failed to unite South Africans.
“We are a completely polarised society racially,” he said.
This week, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu said: “The cabinet decried what appears to be growing abuse of social media to propagate racism.
“The cabinet felt this went against the province’s efforts to promote social cohesion and moral regeneration.”
Ravi Pillay, MEC for Human Settlements in KwaZulu-Natal and champion of social cohesion, said Malema’s utterances would undo the gains they had made in rooting out racial tensions especially in KZN.
“He is taking a populist approach over a sensitive issue. We cannot allow that to happen.”
Pillay is part of the provincial social cohesion council which is co-chaired by Mchunu.
Ram Maharaj, president of the SA Hindu Dharma Sabha, lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission regarding Malema.
He said: “The reckless racist rant is deemed a patently discriminating and divisive generalisation which is disingenuous and dangerous. Furthermore, Malema selectively ignores the historical fact that many Indians made sterling sacrifices in our collective Struggle for democracy in South Africa.”
Maharaj said it was unfortunate that Malema’s “malicious and misleading” statement comes at a time when the country will be hosting the BRICS Summit.
South Africa will host the 10th BRICS Summit at the Sandton International Convention Centre in Johannesburg from July 25 to 27.
Anglican Bishop Dr Steve Moreo said: “The souls of South Africans are slowly being eaten away by the hate speech of people like EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu ,who have clearly embarked on an offensive of naked racism to harm the country.”
The DA also lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission this week.
Last year, Malema publicly accused Indians of ill-treating their black counterparts and, during his party’s fourth anniversary in Durban, alleged that they were paying blacks with food parcels.
Luyolo Mphithi, DA youth federal chairperson, said: “No South African should ever have to face the humiliation of such an assault on their dignity and it is now becoming evident that the EFF is not ready to govern a diverse society, such as South Africa.”
NFP’s spokesperson Sabelo Sigudu said: “His statement on Indians is raising racial tensions among the people.
“We believe that in as much as the country still needed to forge unity as a rainbow nation, leaders are the ones who should be leading the way.
“Therefore, we warn Malema about his utterances as they seek to further divide a divided nation.”
MF youth leader Jonathan Annipen echoed Sigudu’s sentiments, saying: “(Malema) has a tendency to attack South Africans of Indian origin and somehow seems convinced that this small fraction of the South African population has the ability to disempower the masses and, some may even say, outnumbering majority.”
EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee rushed to the defence of Malema, saying that what he said was the truth, which was a bitter pill to swallow.
“Our CIC (commander-in-chief) touched a raw nerve that many people are scared to touch. What he said is the sad reality that black people face in our country.”
Recently, Malema’s deputy, Floyd Shivambu, attracted a barrage of criticism for what was termed a racist comment he made in Parliament about Ismail Momoniat, deputy director-general of National Treasury.
Shivambu reportedly said: “I think he (Momoniat) undermines Africans. He does not take the director-general, the finance minister or the deputy finance minister seriously. He thinks he is superior to them. He takes all the decisions and he is always here in Parliament as if he is National Treasury alone. He is supposed to focus on what he is assigned to.”
Shivambu stood by his utterances, saying there was nothing racist about his comments.
Both Naidoo and Moodley were also on the receiving end of some stern public rebuke for their utterances.
Naidoo, who said she received death threats, denied the comments were from her and claimed it was from a friend.