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Sunday Times STLive By Thabo Mokone , 2012-04-08

Another dust-up in the Western Cape

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
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The DA-run government of the Western Cape has adopted a divide-and-rule approach which is fuelling racial tensions between blacks and coloureds.

This is according to Songezo Mjongile, the provincial secretary of the ANC.

Mjongile - whose claims were labelled as "nonsensical" by the DA - said premier Helen Zille's government was pulling out all the stops to maintain divisions in a bid to cling to power.

He said the DA was using provincial, rather than national, demographics to implement employment-equity legislation.

The Western Cape government's rationale was that, because coloureds were in the majority in the province, they should have more representation in the workplace than blacks.

And this, Mjongile said, meant the DA was deliberately pitting blacks against coloureds for its political benefit. He said it was also undermining national legislation.

However, DA Western Cape leader Theuns Botha cited the DA's service-delivery record to both coloured and black townships as he rejected Mjongile's allegations as "nonsensical and unfounded".

"Our service delivery speaks for itself. Why would people flock to a province where they are marginalised and discriminated against?

"They come here because they get houses, jobs and a proper education," Botha said. "Mjongile is a good guy, but he is talking nonsense.

"Anyone who still refers to race has got nothing to put on the table."

Mjongile's statements came as the battle intensified between the ANC and DA to control the province.

Two weeks ago, provincial safety MEC Dan Plato accused the Western Cape ANC of colluding with gangsters in an effort to topple the DA government.

And several coloured correctional services officials have taken legal action against the department, claiming that blacks are being promoted at their expense.

They have argued that the prisons department is using national demographics when promoting staff, rather than Western Cape demographics, where coloureds are in the majority.

Mjongile did not make a direct reference to these cases, but suggested this logic formed the basis of the DA's "subtle strategy" of divide and rule.

He also said Zille's recent reference to people from the Eastern Cape as refugees was designed to play into the "racist sentiments" prevalent in the Western Cape. He also pointed to the way blacks were referred to as "inkommers" - new arrivals who moved in to take what belonged to those already living in the province.

"It is not an accident that Zille has gone out to say that Africans are refugees in the Western Cape; it's part of the local attitude to Africans ... when she says that she knows she is playing to a racist sentiment but she will pretend ignorance because it suits her," Mjongile said.