Sihlwayi unapologetic in race row — Daily Dispatch

MEC defiant as DA complains to legislature speaker and Human Rights Commission

EASTERN Cape social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi yesterday broke her silence on allegations of racism saying she was “totally unapologetic” about her insistence that blacks should primarily be served and empowered by youth camps organised by the government.

Sihlwayi was reacting to reports that DA provincial chairwoman and MPL Veliswa Mvenya had written to Bhisho legislature speaker Noxolo Kiviet asking her to refer the MEC to the institution’s ethics committee for alleged “racism and human rights violations”.

Mvenya also handed over a letter of complaint to South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) yesterday asking it to investigate Sihlwayi for allegedly ordering that white youths be excluded from a youth camp in Port Alfred recently.

The Saturday Dispatch reported that Sihlwayi’s office had written to youth development head Masiza Mazizi asking him to explain why whites were allowed to attend the event, despite a strict directive that only blacks be allowed.

In a statement to the Daily Dispatch yesterday, Sihlwayi said that because of her struggle credentials, claims of racism against her were “a serious insult”.

“For someone with my background and ANC struggle credentials, this is a serious insult because I have dedicated my whole life to struggle against racism and sexism,” she said. “I made the enquiries about the racial demographics of those who attended our youth camps because these camps are organised and funded by government.

“It is common knowledge that government is short of funds to achieve our objectives and improve lives of our people, therefore it is my duty to ensure that taxpayers’ money spent on these camps is correctly targeted and utilised to empower disadvantaged black youth.”

But in her letter to SAHRC’s acting provincial manager Aubrey Dazana in East London, Mvenya said the matter “should not go unchallenged”.

Sihlwayi took a swipe at Mvenya, saying she was confusing affirmative action and black economic empowerment with racism.

Meanwhile, the department’s head of administration Stanley Khanyile yesterday said the youth camps were in no way designed to discriminate against young white South Africans.

Khanyile said young people from poor and vulnerable white communities would continue benefiting from the programmes intended to promote nation building. — Asanda Nini

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