by Mike Fraser
The statement attributed to Helen Zille in which she is reported as referring to Eastern Cape pupils who flocked to the Western Cape for a better education as refugees is appalling,insensitive, degrading, insulting, and extremely dangerous.
Her statement was in reference to a protest in Grabouw over overcrowding at a school populated by black learners.
The statement is appalling, insensitive, degrading and insulting because the term is levelled at black people from the Eastern Cape. What about other ethnic groups who also stream into the Western Cape in search of better opportunities here. This is the first time ever that the term refugee has been used to describe South Africans who migrate from one province to another in search of better opportunities. Not even in the despicable darkest days of apartheid was this term ever used in the context that Helen has now.
I am one of many people who have relocated from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape over the years.
Most of us moved to the Western Cape in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s because the Western Cape is where you came to further your studies for better opportunities. The colleges and universities have always been here.
And we came to the Western Cape in our numbers, from all over South Africa, long before the ANC was in power.
So why does Helen single out black people from the Eastern Cape as refugees in the Western Cape???
You will be amazed at how many people of all ethnic groups have come to the Western Cape over the years to seek better opportunities. Many academics, and other influential people from the Eastern Cape (and elsewhere) have settled here over the years, and they are making a valuable contribution to the success of this Province.
Academics that immediately come to mind are Prof Jakes Gerwel, Prof Roland Fray, Prof Clarence Williams, to name a few. So if you follow Helen’s logic then they are also refugees in the Western Cape.
But the dear premier of the Western Cape has chosen that the term refugee in her esteemed vocabulary refer only to black people from the Eastern Cape.
Her use of the term refugees in this context is also extremely dangerous.
We know how refugees from outside South Africa’s borders, who also happen to be black, are treated in our country. Refugees are violently attacked, driven out and killed by people who see them as a threat to their own survival in our country.
The protest action in Grabouw has now turned into “race row” exactly because of this absurd racist perception that is generally peddled in the Western Cape that black people belong in the Eastern Cape and coloureds are preferred in the Western Cape. Some black and coloured people of Grabouw are violently engaging each other in defence of the very little that they possess.
The Freedom Charter declares that South Africa belongs to all who live (and love) in it. So freedom of movement is a human right in our country. Why then does Helen Zille choose to politicise the movement of people. People will always migrate in the direction of better opportunities.
In a moment of trying to score political points over her arch political opponent, the ANC, for their mismanagement of the Eastern Cape, Helen has, in the process allowed a mad rush of blood to cloud her judgement.
Or is the botox treatment getting the better of her. By the way, Helen Zille also migrated to the Western Cape from Johannesburg.
Doesn’t that also make you a refugee Helen???