Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

A South African lawmaker, Renaldo Gouws, has been suspended by his party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), after a series of old videos resurfaced online in which he uses violent racist language against black people. The DA issued a statement on Thursday confirming the authenticity of the videos, countering Gouws’ initial claims that they were doctored.

The videos, which show Gouws repeatedly using a local slur for Black Africans along with the n-word and calling for black people to be killed, have created a significant controversy. Gouws, who was sworn into parliament last week, is now facing disciplinary charges from his party.

This scandal comes at a particularly inopportune time for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is in the process of forming a new coalition government with the DA. After being sworn in for a second term as president on Wednesday, Ramaphosa must now negotiate the distribution of ministerial posts between his African National Congress (ANC), the DA, and three smaller parties. The ANC failed to win a majority in last month’s election for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The DA, the country’s second-largest party, has frequently faced accusations of racism, with critics alleging that it seeks to protect the interests of the white minority population, a charge the party denies. DA leader John Steenhuisen had previously defended Gouws, but it is unclear if he has seen the latest video in which Gouws calls for the killing of black people. Senior DA official and former party leader Helen Zille condemned Gouws’ language as “unjustifiable and unacceptable.”

Earlier this week, another video resurfaced in which Gouws made racially charged remarks, suggesting that white people were subject to reverse apartheid and implying that Africa’s disappearance would go unnoticed. These comments have sparked widespread outrage, with over 40,000 people signing an online petition calling for his removal as an MP.

On Monday, after the first clip emerged, the 41-year-old Gouws issued an apology on social media platform X, stating he had spoken in a “crass” and “hostile” manner. He refuted claims of racism but acknowledged his delivery was distorted and took responsibility for his “younger and immature self.”

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced it would take legal action against Gouws for his racial remarks, concluding that his comments constitute hate speech and harassment. “Given Mr Gouw’s position as a Member of Parliament, his alleged actions carry even greater weight and responsibility,” the SAHRC stated.

The coalition government between the ANC and DA, officially termed a Government of National Unity, has faced harsh criticism since its announcement last week. Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), denounced the coalition as a consolidation of white monopoly power. Former President Jacob Zuma echoed these sentiments, describing the partnership as a “white-led unholy alliance between the DA and the ANC of Ramaphosa.”

Despite the political turbulence, South Africa’s business community has broadly welcomed the coalition government, hoping it will bring economic stability. In his inauguration speech, President Ramaphosa pledged to deliver economic growth, create jobs, and reduce inequality in the country.

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