Zuma accused of fuelling racism

ANC leader says racism still a problem but white reporters shut out from briefing.

    The video of white university students degrading black cleaners sparked protests [AFP]

    The video, which showed white students feeding the cleaners soup that they had earlier apparently urinated in, provoked angry protests.

     

    Zuma said that "what happened at the university last week is a stark reminder to all of us that you cannot defeat racism overnight".

     

    "It is a struggle that we must all wage collectively to build a non-racial society."

     

    Told to leave

     

    But last month Zuma attended an off-the-record briefing hosted by the Forum for Black Journalists where white journalists were told to leave.

     

    Ben Said, a South African television presenter who was barred from the meeting, said he was "disappointed" that South Africans still felt they needed racially exclusive clubs.

     

    "Can't believe that in the new South Africa, because of my skin colour I was asked to leave.

     

    "I think more than many other industries in South Africa, there is a lot more racial mixing among journalists and we face many of the same issues," he said.

     

    Unapologetic

     

    Zuma, whose ANC battled for an end to apartheid's racist policies for nearly 50 years, said he saw nothing wrong with addressing the blacks-only meeting.

     

    And the leader of the Forum for Black Journalists, which was set up in 1997 to give African, Indian and mixed race journalists an opportunity to discuss common issues, agreed.

     

    "I am truly aware that what we have done is not unlawful, it's actually enshrined in the constitution that we can meet the way we want to meet as long as we do not disadvantage those who are excluded," Abbey Makoe told Al Jazeera.

     

    The South African human rights commission will hold a public hearing into the event after complaints from at least one media organisation.

     

    "What it raises is whether … race is going to be a dominant factor as we move forward," Jody Kollapen, chairman of South Africa's human rights commission, told Al Jazeera.

     

    "Or whether we can find mechanisms that recognise race historically but find ways where it will become less of a factor in determining who we are, how we construct our society, how we relate to each other."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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