Julius Malema, president of the youth league of South Africa’s ruling party, may have cost the party votes in elections last week by making comments that some perceived as racist, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said.
Malema has sought to paint the opposition Democratic Alliance as a whites-only party, intent on protecting the economic advantages whites enjoyed during apartheid.
He refers to DA leader Helen Zille as a “madam” and has called DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko her “tea girl,” terms which the DA said were racist and sexist as they refer to a master-servant relationship prevalent during white minority rule. At the largest rally before the polls, Malema told about 90,000 supporters “the DA is for the whites and not for you.”
Malema’s remarks “do not help the cause” of the African National Congress, Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg today. “I imagine that there are those people who will be switched off by those comments which appear racist.”
The ANC’s share of the vote fell in all but one of nine provinces in the May 18 election, while its national share declined to 62 percent from 65.9 percent in 2009. The DA, which won 23.9 percent of the vote, up from 16.6 percent, benefited from some ANC officials abandoning its non-racial, non-sexist outlook, Zille said on May 20.
While criticizing Malema, Mantashe also said some whites were too thin-skinned.
“The reality is that some communities are oversensitive,” Mantashe said. “We are not going to disown Malema.”
White, mixed-race and Indian people make up a fifth of South Africa’s 50 million people. Under apartheid laws which were introduced after 1948, different races were forced to live in different areas, weren’t allowed to inter-marry and had a different status and legal rights.
Black people who did not support the ANC should be driven into the sea, Nceba Faku, the ANC’s chairman in Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, told supporters, the South African Press Association reported on May 20.
Malema did not immediately respond to a message left on his mobile phone seeking comment. The ANC’s Eastern Cape office, which governs its Nelson Mandela Bay branches, did not respond to a message left on its phone.
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