Deputy chairperson of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) federal executive Natasha Mazzone has come under fire for a comment she made on Twitter at the weekend.
Mazzone tweeted: “My father arrived from Naples in Italy, he was dark, and could not speak English or Afrikaans, but he was a great chef. He built himself up from nothing to make a good life for his family. I HONOUR and thank my father.”
The DA leader received backlash for suggesting that since her father “was dark”, he had not been privileged when he arrived in South Africa during the apartheid era.
However, some responses to Mazzone’s comments seemed to come to her defence.
The Twitter heat on Mazzone follows reports that the DA has been rocked by a race row.
The City Press reports that during a heated DA caucus meeting last week, the party’s leader Mmusi Maimane was taken to task by his three most senior colleagues in parliament, including Mazzone, over his comments on white privilege made during a rally on Freedom Day.
While addressing DA supporters in Soshanguve, Pretoria, Maimane at the time said South Africans had to confront “white privilege and black poverty” to bring about the true meaning of freedom.
Maimane stood behind his commentary on “white privilege and black poverty”, tweeting: “I firmly stand by comments I made on Freedom Day. SA remains deeply unequal, with black SAns locked out of opportunities. We must focus on solving the problem. Liberation of one race is not the enslaving of another – all of us, black & white, must come together to build.”
Mazzone’s tweet about her father’s hue was a response to a question on whether she believes white privilege exists in the country.
The question followed her initial tweet that she supports Maimane as her leader. Mazzone had tweeted: “Let me make one thing VERY clear. Mmusi Maimane is my Leader. He has my support 100%. We work as a party for ALL South Africans. We have discussions and debates BECAUSE we believe in building a society where ALL South Africans have equal opportunities. We are UNITED for ALL SA!”
On Radio 702 this morning, Mazzone said the tweet about her father was meant to highlight the struggles that white immigrants had endured in South Africa during apartheid and that it was necessary for individual stories of such experiences to be told.
She said her tweet was not implying that her father faced the same challenges as oppressed black South Africans during apartheid.
“It would be completely unjust and unfair to say that my father, in any way, suffered as much as any black person in this country, that is certainly not what I’m saying,” Mazzone said.
The DA leader conceded that her father’s race had been an advantage for him during apartheid, adding her tweet sought to state that the privilege she had could not be compared to the privilege her father had had and that many people suffered during apartheid South Africa.