Cape Town – Embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has hit back at party veterans over allegedly racist remarks attributed to him, saying other party leaders, including the president, had made similar comments in the past.
This comes after party elders on Monday slammed Magashule over what they deemed racist comments made by the leader during his Western Cape campaign over the past weekend.
Magashule told Philippi residents in the Western Cape that they must not vote for “umlungu”, or a white person.
The elders released a statement yesterday condemning Magashule, and further demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa take action against him.
Speaking through his spokesperson Mbali Hlophe, Magashule denied any wrongdoing, and said his comments were taken out of context.
“Why is the 101 Veterans coming out now when these terms have been used before? President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a similar comment. There is nothing wrong with what Mr Magashule said, there is context which needs to be understood,” said Hlophe.
Magashule referred to statements that were made by Ramaphosa in 2014 and said his comments were about speaking against whiteness, not necessarily advocating hate for white people.
“When we were in the Western Cape, the people were saying white people are causing them to suffer. Simply put, they were speaking about the ill-treatment that they are receiving from the DA.
“That was the context, and when he was addressing the community, there is no terminology in any verna- cular language on whiteness, except for distinguishing ‘abelungu’ and ‘amabhunu’,” said Hlophe.
The statement by the elders was signed by party veterans Mavuso Msimang, Barbara Masekela, Murphy Morobe, Popo Molefe, Ilse Fischer, Ata Mkhwanazi, Trish Hanekom, Omry Makgoale, Ivan Pillay, Laurentia Richer, Cas Coovadia, Sagie Pillay, Peter Richer, Mary Metcalfe, Sheila Sisulu, Tim Wilson, Catherine Hunter Shubane, Aslam Dasoo and Lentswe Mokgatle.
The elders said the comments made by Magashule were not in accordance with the Constitution or their party, which they believed to be a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic liberation movement.
“The utterances by someone occupying the office of secretary-general, exhorting masses of poor black people not to vote for ‘umlungu’, are utterly alien to the core principles and character of the ANC and its mission to build a nation free of prejudice, poverty and exploitation,” they said.
The veterans called on Ramaphosa and the ANC integrity commission to urgently act against Magashule.
ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete said the party would discuss the matter at its next meeting.
The Presidency declined to comment on the matter.