Thursday, 10 March 2011

Press release: Outright discrimination against Coloured community nothing new

The coloured community of South Africa has recently been in the spotlight as a result of some inflammatory and exceptionally offensive statements by prominent ruling party representatives and journalists (Jimmy Many, Kuli Roberts). One can be forgiven for thinking these pejorative and demeaning perceptions of the Coloured community in South Africa could not possibly hold any real currency in the public sector, however, local non-profit organisation SAME (the South African Movement for Equality) says otherwise...and the group says it has conclusive and damning proof. SAME has in its possession conclusive and damning proof which shows that the institutional and disdainful disregard of the coloured community of South Africa is nothing new and is instead an entrenched and systemic malaise that extends deep within South Africa's public institutions, most notably, the SABC (the South African Broadcast Corporation). “Since 2008, SAME has been involved in discussions with the SABC at the highest level over the continued and outright exclusion of coloured South Africans from enjoying equal access to public broadcaster facilities. The coloured community of South Africa, a legal and census defined population group which accounts for 9% of the South African population, is the only census defined group for which the SABC continues to provide absolutely no specific and targeted public broadcaster radio services to, as is the case with every other census defined group. The constitution speaks of equal access to state resources, yet the SABC still does not provide a national radio platform for the coloured group” says SAME chairman, Ronald Dyers. “This media exclusion fuels the feelings of disenfranchisement and gives tangible credence to the coloured community's claims of exclusion and discrimination by the ruling party”.

“In October 2008, SAME entered into discussions with SABC management at the highest level and while a signed undertaking and course of action was agreed upon to remedy the media exclusion of the coloured community from state broadcast facilities, the coloured community still does not have any national radio station and very little in the way of targeted television programming” says Mr Dyers.

“Is it any surprise then that the coloured community in South Africa continues to feel excluded and shut off from the mainstream while even the public broadcaster is guilty of exercising the most pernicious and blatantly visible form of discrimination against a highly vulnerable and irrefutably disadvantaged minority group in South Africa?” says Dyers.

“Government may try to do damage control by distancing itself from the deeply hurtful statements of Jimmy Manyi and the subsequent response by Trevor Manuel, however, it is clear that the anti-Coloured sentiment within government extends to the highest echelons of state apparatus and is a seemingly accepted modus operandi for state bodies, particularly the SABC”.

“SAME would like to call on all progressive and equality loving South Africans who wish to build a more integrated and representative South Africa, to join SAME in its pursuit of equal access to state media for the coloured community and to bring an end to the SABC and the ANC government's hurtful and extremely prejudicial exclusion of the Coloured community from enjoying the edifying fruits of state media facilities. We have a responsibility to uphold our constitution and to empower the youth within our communities to ensure that government does not pay lip service to its espoused ethos of non-racialism on the one hand, while on the other hand, continuing to practise a most vile and regressive form of discrimination against one of South Africa's most vulnerable minority groups. Clearly, it seems that in South Africa, in the ANC government, some groups are more equal than others”