Racism is on the rise in South Africa

Racism is on the rise in South Africa. An organisation formed to help white entrepreneurs become "reintegrated into the economy" has sparked huge debate about black economic empowerment.

The SA White Entrepreneurs' Forum has been created, apparently in direct response to the SA Black Entrepreneurs' Forum, "which excludes white people".

Although the new forum's founders have not responded to queries from The Times, their counterparts have described them as "bored whites trying to perpetuate exactly what we are trying to repress".

Its Facebook page, with restricted access, has 840 members. It is administered by Alan Marsden, Dolores Potgieter and Johann Griebenow.

The group says it exists due to "racist BBBEE policies which excluded white people from the workplace".

It insists that it is a "non-racial space where white entrepreneurs can share ideas and re-integrate into the economy".

The forum's creation coincides with claims by researchers that racism is on the rise. Recently, Bloemfontein teacher Leonard McKay, who was fired for racism in 2013 after depicting black people as baboons, was hired by the Dr CF Visser Primary School.

The president of the Black Entrepreneurs' Forum, Lebo Gunguluza, said the white counterparts were "just bored".

"They are trying to perpetuate exactly what we are trying to repress. They have been excluding black entrepreneurs for over 50 years."

He said that although his organisation was exclusively black, it was aimed at promoting the previously disadvantaged. Former Black Management Forum president Jimmy Manyi said the White Entrepreneurs' Forum was misinformed.

"These people do not have information. The information they should be presented with is that BEE is a non-racial project."

Luke Spiropoulos, lead researcher at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said "racism is on the rise".

"It is becoming increasingly overt and does not seem to be abating. There is a growing number of people who are not saying anything but are feeling it more and more," Spiropoulos said.

"Racism now manifests itself in the assumptions people make about each other. It comes out in conversations, especially on social media.

"Particularly alarming is that there is very little change from generation to generation. The racism I am referring to is not silent."

He said that although there was less racism than before 1994, there was more of it [now] "than we would have expected".

Danny Titus of the SA Human Rights Commission, said race issues in this country should never be ignored.


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