South African MP suspended for racist language

A South African lawmaker has been suspended by his party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), after a series of old clips resurfaced online of him spewing violent racist language against black people.

Renaldo Gouws initially insinuated one of the videos was doctored and denied it but a statement issued by the DA on Thursday said it was "genuine and not a fake".

In the video Mr Gouws, who was sworn into parliament last week, uses a local slur typically reserved for Black Africans repeatedly along with the n-word, and calls for black people to be killed.

This could hardly have come at a worse time for President Cyril Ramaphosa as he thrashes out a new coalition government with the DA.

After being sworn in for a second full term as president on Wednesday, he now has agreed on the distribution of ministerial posts between his own African National Congress (ANC) and the DA, along with three smaller parties.

The ANC failed to win a majority in last month's election for the first time since the end of the racist system of apartheid in 1994.

The centre-right DA the country's second-biggest party, has faced accusations of racism from critics who say the party wants to protect the interests of the white-minority population - a charge it denies.

The DA has said Mr Gouws will face "disciplinary charges".

Earlier this week, another old video clip re-emerged, in which Mr Gouws makes racially charged remarks.

In the video he implied that white people were subject to reverse apartheid.

He said: "If Africa had to disappear off the face of the earth, no one would [expletive] notice”.

More than 40,000 people have signed an online petition calling for his removal as an MP.

On Monday, after the first clip came out, the 41-year-old claimed he wasn't racist and apologised on X, saying he had spoken in a “crass" and "hostile” way.

"I refute any claims of racism or being a racist. I can however see how my message was distorted in the way it was delivered by me and I take full responsibility for the actions of my younger and immature self," he said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen previously defended Mr Gouws, but it is unclear if he has seen the latest video where Mr Gouws calls for black people to be killed.

Senior DA official and former party leader Helen Zille on Wednesday told local media: "Such language is unjustifiable and unacceptable. I don't see how such offensive language can be justified."

Mr Gouws is a former councillor in Nelson Mandela Bay's ward two and popular figure on social media, who has been known to stir controversy.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it would take legal action against Mr Gouws "for the alleged racial utterances relating to online media posts".

In a statement shared on X, the SAHRC concluded that the comments made by the suspended MP "constitute hate speech and/or harassment".

"Given Mr Gouw’s position as a Member of Parliament, his alleged actions carry even greater weight and responsibility."

The coalition between long-time rivals the ANC and DA, officially called a Government of National Unity, has been harshly criticised by some since it was announced last week.

Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who formed the party after he left the ANC in 2013, lambasted the agreement.

"We do not agree to this marriage of convenience, to consolidate the white monopoly power over the economy and the means of production in South Africa."

Former President Jacob Zuma and founder of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which came third in the recent election, shared the same sentiments.

He said there was no government of national unity in South Africa and described the partnership as a “white-led unholy alliance between the DA and the ANC of Ramaphosa”.

South Africa's business community has broadly welcomed the coalition government, hoping it will provide economic stability.

In his inauguration speech, President Ramaphosa vowed to deliver economic growth, provide jobs and reduce inequality in the country.

Graphic showing make-up of new parliament
[BBC]

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