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.
Poor South Africans have called upon newly elected president Jacob Zuma to keep his election promises on service delivery. The past week has seen a number of protests flaring up across South Africa against what protesters called poor service delivery.In one township in the country’s Mpumalanga province residents barricaded the entire township, burning tyres, throwing stones at policemen and calling for the head of the local mayor, whom they described as “good for nothing”. “There is no development. You can see for yourself,” one resident told journalists. He spoke of alleged neglect and apparent self enrichment from local government officials.Locals also complained about being “overlooked” for jobs in the local municipalities in favour of people from outside.Demonstrations lasted nearly the whole day on Wednesday 22nd July. Later in the afternoon the local municipal council came to address the crowds who-for-a-while refused to listen to their elected officials. One thing they wanted clarified was whether their brothers and sisters- arrested during the last two days of protests would be released before they could listen to whatever the town council’s meeting had concluded. Ninety-nine residents had been taken into police custody.Siyathemba Township is but one example of this recent surge in protests against perceived lack of service delivery. The challenges of getting access to water and sanitation facilities, health care, employment, and electricity fifteen years into democratic South Africa are being brought up, albeit via the protests.The residents in Siyathemba said they want Zuma to act on non-performing government officials. Do these protests suggest that poor South Africans are exercising their democratic right by speaking out on non performing government officials? Does the South African government simply view these protestors as unruly and unemployed youths who are out to damage the reputation of the country and Zuma? Or does national government pressure local and provincial governments to deliver on their elections mandate?