Johannesburg: South Africa`s ruling ANC has suspended a senior party leader for allegedly branding his fellow Indian-origin citizens as "whiners" and telling them to "go back to India".
Visvin Reddy, Chairman of the African National Congress (ANC) branch in the predominantly Indian-origin suburb of Chatsworth, near Durban, chided local Indian voters who complained about the ANC government, in a Facebook post.
"The ANC will still rule this country. You whiners should leave. Go to India and you will see what a good life we have here. Continue with your garbage and marginalise yourself further. Don`t blame the ANC, blame yourself. Only a foolish Indian in South Africa will not engage the majority constructively," Reddy wrote in the Facebook comment which has unleashed a wave of protests about it being racist.
Reddy has been suspended pending disciplinary action.
Sihle Zikalala, the ANC`s provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, where the majority of South Africa`s 1.4 million Indian-origin citizens live, rejected Reddy`s comments.
"We view Reddy`s utterances as totally uncalled for and not reflecting the principles of democracy," Zikalala said adding that the ANC needed the support of the Indian community and would never disrespect them in this way.
The ANC also issued a statement today condemning as "gutter politics" an SMS being sent out by the opposition Democratic Alliance that claims the ruling party has told Indians to go back to India.
"The ANC has never said any such thing. This is a wild distortion of the furore around comments one comrade, Visvin Reddy made in his personal capacity, and which he clearly indicated were not the views of the ANC," said the statement.
Reddy has defended his remarks as being his personal views and not those of the ANC.
He said they were aimed at discouraging criticism by Indians of the ANC government, as it could lead to strained relations between Indians and the majority black citizens.
Reddy said the reference to India was in the context of those who had not been to that country realising that poverty there was worse than in South Africa.
The comments have caused outrage within the Indian community as the country heads to the polls on May 7.
Ashwin Trikamjee, President of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, was scathing in his criticism of Reddy`s comments, referring to him as "a desperate clown".