Those who are racist should not bother voting for the Democratic Alliance, party leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Johannesburg, Maimane said there was no place for racists within the DA.
“Racists are not welcomed in the DA. If you are thinking of voting for the DA and you are a racist, please do not vote for us,” Maimane said to a round of applause at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
Maimane’s address on the issue of race relations follows in the wake of several incidents of racist utterings which have rocked South Africa and unleashed a storm of protest on social media.
Maimane said racism had continued even though apartheid was part of South Africa’s history.
“We have a duty to act against those who engage in racial discrimination and racial mobilisation,” he said. “There is no place in the DA for people who believe that the colour of their skin renders them superior to others.
“No DA member must be satisfied until we fundamentally address the structural inequality of our society. No DA member must ever turn a blind eye to racism, no matter how subtle or coded it may be.”
Maimane added that he would soon introduce a racism pledge to be signed by every new and returning DA member when they join the party.
The pledge would require the signatory to uphold the values of the country’s constitution, reject discrimination, agree not to perpetuate racial division or undermine the dignity of others.
“Members found to be in violation of this oath will have their party membership revoked immediately, no questions asked,” Maimane added.
Maimane compared the signing of the country’s constitution to a marriage between two people. When the constitution was signed, the country vowed to stick together through sickness and health and through all its struggles, he said.
He went on to say that he felt the country was drifting apart two decades after apartheid because black people were made to feel inferior.
A black child was one hundred times more likely to struggle through poverty than a white child, Maimane said.
“South Africans must talk about racial inequality. There’s no conversation more important and it must go on till inequality is flattened.”
Former estate agent Penny Sparrow, economist Chris Hart, radio and television presenter Gareth Cliff and others, have all been in the spotlight in recent weeks after public utterances which drew the public ire, while a huge billboard with the legend #Zumamustfall which dominated the Cape Town skyline on Friday was deemed to be racist.
The billboard space at the top of Long Street towered over its surroundings until it was torn down by angry ANC supporters on Saturday.
Maimane said that every time racial insults were posted on social networks it took the country backwards.
“We must be angry at the acts of racists. It’s time to draw a line in the sand against racism. Many South Africans don’t think like Penny Sparrow.”
He added that for every racist comment that trended, there were hundreds more that didn’t.
“There’s many people who talk around braais like we are in the 1920s … there’s many people who will say I’m not racist but…”
Maimane listed subtle forms of racism like looking down on others, as well as laughing at others who pronounced words differently.
“Everyone has the capacity for greatness, as well as for prejudice,” he said. “We need to find each other again.” – African News Agency