African business, politics and lifestyle
Was it right to grant refugee status to white South African?
Canada’s decision to grant refugee status to white South African Brandon Huntley has drawn anger from the ruling African National Congress, which described it as racist, and has again stirred the race debate in South Africa 14 years after the end of apartheid.
Huntley had cited persecution by black South Africans as the reason why he could not return to the country of his birth. The chair of the Canadian panel that granted his request said he had shown evidence “of indifference and inability or unwillingness” of South Africa’s government to protect white South Africans from “persecution by African South Africans”.
“I find that the claimant would stand out like a ‘sore thumb’ due to his colour in any part of the country,” the chair of the tribunal panel, William Davis, was quoted as saying.
In his application for asylum, Huntley said he had been a victim of multiple crimes by black South Africans and added that white South Africans were a target.
He pointed at the country’s Black Economic Empowerment policies as institutionalised reverse racism that has ensured that he has no opportunities.
The Ottawa Sun described how Huntley first came to Canada to work as a carnival attendant on a six-month work permit in 2004, came back in 2005 and then stayed on illegally until he made a refugee claim in 2008.
Anyone visiting South Africa will certainly see plenty of evidence of white South Africans doing extremely well and generally having a higher standard of living than the majority of black South Africans. White South Africans head many top firms while the highest crime rates are not in the suburbs of the affluent, but in the poor black townships.
Many members of minority groups do complain, however, that they are discriminated against in the Rainbow Nation, led by the ANC since Nelson Mandela took office as president in 1994.
Was Canada justified in giving refugee status to Huntley or was the decision racist? If white South Africans can claim refugee status then who can’t? Is the ANC over-reacting and missing a sign of disaffection by a large minority group?
Have your say.