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Hitler-loving activist in ANCYL leadership race may apologise

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Former student leader Mcebo Dlamini, who said “I Love Hitler” and made other inflammatory remarks three years ago, is the frontrunner in the race to find a new African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Oct 25, 2018

Talking to the SA Jewish Report this week, he said he was willing to apologise because “it’s time to move on”.

The #FeesMustFall activist was stripped of his presidency of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and academically excluded for a year from the University of the Witwatersrand. This follows him making numerous hateful comments and other disciplinary indiscretions at the university.

Dlamini, 31, has now put himself forward in the running for leadership of the beleaguered ANCYL.

Until now, the embattled final year LLB student has remained steadfastly unapologetic for the hateful comments he made on Facebook in 2015, professing his love and admiration for the Nazi leader. These and other comments sent shock waves to the core of the Jewish community, and sparked widespread condemnation. In spite of this, he remained unfazed by the public outrage at the time, and made it clear he would not apologise.

However, this week he told the SA Jewish Report that he wants to “set a date to meet with the affected parties, with those not happy and to find each other”.

“I am eager, I am optimistic, and I’m willing to sort out this problem once and for all and move on as a nation,” he said.

“At some point as a country, as a people, we will have to find ways of moving on. That’s not to say we must forget certain things happened, but we must not dwell in the past.”

It all started on 25 April 2015, with a discussion on Facebook. Dlamini posted a photo, comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi regime in the course of which the following comments were posted by himself and others:

He wrote: “In every white person there is an element of Hitler…”

“Hitler new (sic) they were up to no good” (Bheki Mgaga). To this, Dlamini posted the reply “I love Adolf HITLER”.

Bhekithemba Melusi Mbatha continued, “Haha, he slaughtered more than 5 million Jews that man”. To this, Dlamini replied, “jews have slaughtered how many Palestinian children? For me, it means one thing – jews love Adolf Hitler. If they didn’t why would they be emulating him?”

In response to objections lodged against his original post, Dlamini wrote, “Hahaha my photo has been reported for containing graphic violence... shame nxaaaaaaaa fok am not removing it… truth hurts… face it murderers.”

At the time, Dlamini defended his remarks, saying that he “admired Hitler’s organisational skills”. He responded to the criticism, by saying, “I’m looking at the good Hitler stood for. He rebuilt the country, the economy, the infrastructure, and he uplifted the spirit of Germany.”

Dlamini acknowledged that ignoring the fact that Hitler murdered millions of people would be ignorant. “I’m not saying he did not commit terrible atrocities, but not everything he did was bad. I’m admiring his ability to organise a nation, and get the people to rally behind him.”

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) was quick to lodge a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC).

National Director of the Board, Wendy Kahn, said this week, “Unfortunately there has been little movement on this case at this time, but we are certainly pursuing it.”

Dlamini said this week that he had received an email requesting a meeting. He had not read it fully, and did not know where it came from. “We are at that stage to set a date to sit down and iron out the issues,” he said.

Said Kahn, ”There have certainly been attempts at conciliation. This is part of the HRC process. Unfortunately, no conciliation has actually taken place.”

She explained that since the complaint was made to the commission, all conciliation and mediation processes must be arranged through it.

As recently as last week, Dlamini dismissed his Hitler comments in an interview with the Mail & Guardian saying, “Forget about that thing – we are now here. You can’t be taking us back to years ago. Those things were said in their own context, and you have never heard us saying those things again. There were people who were uncomfortable with that, and they blew this whole thing out of proportion.”

His comments and other disciplinary issues at Wits resulted in him being expelled as a member and president of the SRC.

Wits’ Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib labelled Dlamini’s Hitler remarks as “racist and offensive in the extreme”.

According to the SAJBD, this was not the first time Dlamini made inflammatory and discriminatory comments. In a letter to the HRC, Mary Kluk, then National Chairperson of the board, said Dlamini had made other comments.

On 20 November 2014, it was reported in the Beeld newspaper that Dlamini, in the course of giving evidence at HRC public hearings on university transformation, charged that Jewish students at Wits received preferential treatment because of the alleged financial clout that Jews exercised at the university.

On or around 20 December 2014, a further case of anti-Jewish hate speech by Dlamini was recorded. This was a Facebook comment which said, “To the Palestinian Government, thank you for allowing the girls access to education. I can smell victory against the racist Zionist Jews.”

Further comments surfaced on 28 February 2015, when Dlamini claimed in a Facebook post that Professor Habib had used “the racist zionist controlled” Wits Legal Office to find him guilty of misconduct, and sentence him to one year’s expulsion from the university.

The SAJBD included in its complaint to the HRC that Dlamini had made further comments when being interviewed on Power FM radio station on 23 June 2015. He referred to the Jewish community as “devils”. He went on to say, “They are good for nothing. They are hypocritical, just like Adam Habib. They are uncircumcised in heart.”

Commenting on his slurs, Dlamini told the SA Jewish Report this week that, “Certain things were said in that particular time… now those sentiments are irrelevant. If we repeat them, it would be shocking.

“Let’s sit down and engage. There are ways of dealing with this. We are learning… part of growing is realising the mistakes you’ve made, it is part of growing up, this is part of leadership. People must assist us to grow.”

He spoke about mediation and used the analogy of when a father gently approaches his son and explains to him why he was wrong. “If he comes to you to brutalise and attack you, you will become defensive.”

He stressed that he would welcome mediation, and would consider apologising.

“We all want this thing to pass. I feel I have a responsibility to lead my people, and to champion the interests of my people. This is hanging over me. It is an unnecessary distraction,” he said.

He stressed he would “definitely apologise” for the comments he had made as long as the process followed engagement with affected parties.

Dlamini recently confirmed that he would contest the league’s leadership race, coming up against longer-serving opponents KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo, and outgoing Treasurer General Reggie Nkabinde.

Though the ANCYL was expected to hold its 26th national congress to elect new leadership at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg last weekend, it was postponed for the umpteenth time. National Spokesperson for the league, Mlondi Mkhize, told the SA Jewish Report this week that the “League is facing many challenges”, including among many things “the issue of liquidation”.

Dlamini faces numerous charges including public violence, theft, assault, and violating a court order related to the #FeesMustFall protests at Wits University in 2016.

A defiant Dlamini appeared at the Johannesburg Magistrates Court last Friday, where his case was postponed again to April next year.

According to Gareth van Onselen, the Head of Politics at the Institute of Race Relations, the ANCYL suffers from three problems.

“First, on a grand scale, it has been rendered somewhat redundant by the Economic Freedom Fighters, which is essentially the ANCYL in an external guise. Second, it is bankrupt, and has been for some time. Third, it now has a well-established recent history of poor leadership.”

Said Van Onselen, “Dlamini’s prospects of victory are unknown, but as far as his style and beliefs go, his candidature is in keeping with recent trends. He is highly divisive, peddles hate, shows scant respect for the law and, ultimately, parades an intellectual wasteland not hinterland. He is in this way the inevitable result of the devolution of ANCYL leadership.”

Van Onselen said there was Julius Malema, “a hate monger and organisational disaster”, who was ultimately expelled. Then Collen Maine, “a semi-literate buffoon”, who called for the rand to fall and suggested that Minister of Public Enterprises and former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan be “necklaced” to death.

“So, it makes a certain amount of sense that one of the contenders to the throne boasts an affinity for Hitler. Dlamini represents the end point of the road the ANCYL has been travelling on for some time: the epitome of hate and incompetence.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Russell Fig 25 Oct
    Why are you black South Africans so ignorant and don't aprecuiate everything that the Jews have done for you? Reemember it is we Jews that contributed to oposing Apartheid. You black South Africans shoud be grateful to the Jews because of everything they have done to help you? Why are some of you black South Africans so ungrateful?    

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