So whites are our people and African refugees are not?

15 July 2018 - 00:00
COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota is being criticised by the writer for his recent statements.
Image: Trevor Samson COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota is being criticised by the writer for his recent statements.

Dear Mosiuoa Lekota, I have heard your recent bizarre utterances with disgust and I know that, owing to your tinpot dictatorial tendencies, few around you would have called you to the side and told you the truth. Frankly, you are beginning to sound senile.

Your latest embarrassing claim is that fellow Africans who come here for refuge - in the way that your comrades in the ANC sought refuge in other African countries at the height of apartheid - must be confined to refugee camps and kept away from South African society.

What an anti-Black Consciousness view to articulate on the eve of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday. Ntate Lekota, Madiba would be turning in his grave in shame over you.

In your BC days, you would have given a sermon about how black people are the same regardless of their origin on this continent. You would have reminded those younger than you that the Freedom Charter says South Africa belongs to all those who live in it regardless of colour and creed. This is because your comrades were refugees in many countries where refugee camps were an abomination. Only those who were in those countries for military training were confined to camps.

I know the years are showing, Ntate Lekota, but even you will remember that this economy was built by the blood and tears of people from Lesotho - where even you have relatives. The forefathers of people from Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia died in the mines where your BC friends now have shares. Your memory must be failing you as you spit on their graves so spectacularly.

The refugee camps nonsense is not the only thing keeping you and your three-person party in the headlines. At the recent land summit at Unisa, you apparently had an attack of nostalgia, telling people that after leaving the ANC in a huff back in 2008, you are "still ANC". This is shameful, considering that 1.3million people wasted their votes on COPE at the 2009 polls with the promise of an alternative.

But I digress. According to your bizarre logic, white people who stole land from our people must be left alone to own that land because when the ANC argues that land must be returned to our people your retort is: "Who is our people?"

So whites are our people and African refugees are not. Wow, Ntate Lekota, you are no different from Helen Zille, who called black people refugees in the Western Cape and glorified colonialism by seeing a silver lining in it.

What about redress - can you spell the word these days? What happened to your Black Consciousness, Ntate Lekota? Have you given up on the dream of land being restored to the African majority?

I remember the early days of COPE, when many of us looked up to you, before you killed the party's potential by attempting to shield white people from transformation. You spewed such nonsense about BEE and affirmative action and made the party a complete laughing stock when you said, with a straight face: "Race will no longer be used as a criterion for affirmative action."

It was chilling that a man who had sat in the cabinet for over a decade, a man who chaired the ANC for 10 years, would say such a totally illiterate thing.

Now you sit in parliament as a shadow of your former revolutionary self, uttering one embarrassing proclamation after another.

It is spineless people like you who have made many South Africans give up on forming an alternative political party. Your logic is of lower quality than even young people leading parties such as the EFF and the DA. You are supposed to be leading them to consolidate the opposition and create a credible alternative; instead, you have become comic relief for the legislature. Instead of a dignified elder with some wisdom to share, you are a laughing stock.

Why don't you retire from politics while some of us still have a modicum of respect for you.

Tabane is a radio and TV talkshow host, the author of Let's Talk Frankly, and a former member of COPE