My ‘combi-court’ rant wasn’t racist, Mazibuko tells SAHRC

Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation Faith Mazibuko speaks to media at SAHRC Offices in Johannesburg, 16 April 2019, on a widely circulated audio recording concerning a meeting held by the MEC with her senior managers, 16 April 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation Faith Mazibuko speaks to media at SAHRC Offices in Johannesburg, 16 April 2019, on a widely circulated audio recording concerning a meeting held by the MEC with her senior managers, 16 April 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The Human Rights Commission ordered the MEC to undergo a one-day, first-of-its-kind sensitivity programme by May 8.

Gauteng Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Faith Mazibuko denies a verbal attack she made in a recently leaked recording was racist.

However, she has apologised for the encounter in which she told two senior managers they had her to thank for landing top jobs, given that one was Indian and the other was white.

The apology came after she was summoned to a meeting with the South African Human Rights Commission.

At the meeting she agreed to publicly apologise. She also agreed to undergo a one-day first-of-its-kind sensitivity programme by May 8.

During a joint briefing at the commission’s office, Mazibuko blamed the rant on her frustration at the department’s failure to meet targets to build sports facilities, referred to in the leaked recording as “combi-courts”.

ALSO READ: ANC MEC screams at staff: ‘I don’t want stories! I want combi courts! Or resign!’

While in the recording she seemed to suggest the urgency in building these “combi-courts” was connected to the ANC’s election campaign plans, Mazibuko initially denied this before partially admitting it was true.

She said that as political office bearers, she and her colleagues had difficulty campaigning in areas where their departments had failed to deliver on specific projects. She said she has simply been pointing out that the party needed to have delivered on certain promises before they had to campaign in those areas.

The commissioner responsible for race and equity issues, Priscilla Jana, said the commission accepted and applauded Mazibuko’s unconditional apology. She added that she hoped this would show the public that the commission treated all human rights violations with the sensitivity they deserved.

Jana said the parties all agreed Mazibuko’s remarks “could be interpreted as racist”, but were more divisive than racist.

Asked if Mazibuko might have been treated leniently, she said the commission was purposefully lenient to black offenders in racial incidents “because of the historical context”. She also said that racism from whites towards other races was more pervasive.

The Gauteng ANC’s integrity commission is to inform Mazibuko soon if the party would take any action against her regarding the matter.

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