Sunday, September 28, 2008

Racist shoe on the other foot

Gone are the days that blacks could append the "racist" tag to anyone. You know someone is about to lose an argument because they fall back on the tried and tested method of shouting "you're a racist!" to shut their opponent up.

However, it is, to some, an offensive term - just like blacks dislike being called kaffirs.

I see no harm in being called a racist - it is just a word after all - sticks and stones and all that, see the worry in my eye.

But, I suppose to have it blurted out at you in public before a large audience would be embarrassing and demeaning. In South Africa, it is a crime. That's right, to injure somebody's dignity (crimen injuria) by use of racial insults or obscene language is illegal. Remember that when you get called umlungu or racist next time.

Mboweni did just that. I suppose it is hard to lose the habit, the chip on the shoulder is obviously quite weighty on our fat financial top man.

I'm also savouring the poetic sweetness of it all. Whites spend their time biting their tongues here, here, here and especially here) .

Blacks however, can call others pretty much anything with little fear of retribution (see here, here, here). That's because other races maybe tend to be less bothered by words and move on.

But things are changing.

The incident in question, I must agree, would have been hugely offensive to a
person being called a racist in front of hundreds of other shareholders at an AGM. It would have pissed me off too although I don't think I would have sat down and called my lawyer. I would have spent a few minutes returning the insult and then sat down and called my lawyer.

Squirm fat boy, squirm and mind that tongue next time.

- - - -

Mboweni in race row.

A South African Reserve Bank shareholder's lawyer on Saturday asked governor, Tito Mboweni, to apologise for a comment made at the bank's annual general meeting.

At the AGM, held on September 19, Mario Pretorius asked Mboweni to bring the meeting to order.

The governor refused and Pretorius said "shocking."

This prompted a further response from the governor who said that Pretorius should not address him in the manner used by whites when talking to blacks during the apartheid era.

"I shall not permit you to talk to me like whites used to talk to blacks", Mboweni said.

Pretorius, through his lawyer, Johan van Huyssteens requested a public apology for the accusation that he spoke to the governor in a racist manner.

"We once again invite you to withdraw your statement and apologise to our client unconditionally. This must be done by way of a letter and a statement in the public media. Pretorius will accept an apology unconditionally," the letter stated.

The letter further stated that should Mboweni, not act on this request by the end of October 3, "our client will institute a claim against you and the SARB for an amount of R1 million."

Mboweni could possibly face further damage claims from Pretorius, the letter stated.

"Should your unsolicited branding of our client as a racist negatively influence his business, he obviously reserves the right to claim further damages from you (Mboweni) and SARB," the letter stated.

Mboweni's office could not be immediately reached for comment.

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