Sat Sep 23 02:27:14 SAST 2017

Blade in 'darkies' row

By Anna Majavu | 2011-02-17 06:30:03.0

'This language is not for parlimentary use'

MEMBERS of Parliament should exercise caution when using the word "darkies" in debates, Parliament's deputy speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo ruled yesterday.

"The way in which the remark is made or the tone can make a difference. After consideration I must agree that the word might be seen as a racial label and could easily be seen as derogatory by some people.

"I would, therefore, like to urge members generally to avoid language which could be construed as offensive and provocative by others," she said.

This came after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande lashed out at the DA's Wilmot James in a National Assembly debate on Tuesday.

James said Matric marks had been pushed up to pass students who would otherwise have failed.

But Nzimande hit back accusing James of being racist.

"If the Matric results are bad, this is taken as proof that this government of darkies is incapable. If the Matric pass rate goes up, it means the results have been manipulated by these darkies. The arrogant, sneering tone of this discourse, which is often racist, frankly, is aimed at undermining the confidence of our people in both our education system and government."

An angry DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko demanded that Mfeketo make a ruling on whether it was parliamentary for Nzimande to use the word "darkies" in the National Assembly.

She was backed by Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota.

"A ruling must be made whether white members of this house may not criticise the government because they will be called racist," said Lekota.

But Nzimande hit back at both the DA and Cope saying: "You are portraying the DA as the best thing. We have open toilets here which are an affront to our people. Your own premier stopped the minstrels here from having a celebration".