More debate and discussion needed on the issue of race - Cliff

2016-01-30 14:02
Gareth Cliff. (Photo: The Juice)

Johannesburg - Controversial media personality Gareth Cliff on Saturday said people in South Africa did not really understand freedom of speech, including himself.

Cliff was reflecting back on the tweet he sent out in the midst of the Penny Sparrow debacle, which led to M-Net removing him from reality singing show Idols.

Cliff lodged an urgent application in the High Court in Johannesburg and on Friday M-Net was ordered to re-instate him.

"In terms of what was right, the text of the tweet stands," he told reporters in Johannesburg at CliffCentral headquarters.

"People really don't understand freedom of speech, including me. I don't think there is anyone who could definitively say that they do, so we are back where we started."

Wasn't right to hurt people with his tweet

However, Cliff said he was never right to hurt people.

"It's never right to seem like you don't care about the huge weight of history and the fact that it carries, for some people, unbelievable pain.

"It's wrong, you can never be glib about those things."

He said white South Africans need to claim some responsiblity for what they or their ancestors did, and be cognisant of that.

"You can't wipe out history. So that part is something I have learnt."

We need to talk about race

Cliff said more debate and discussion was needed on the issue of race.

He said he did not agree with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who said racism could not be debated or cured.

Earlier this week, Mantashe said the solution was to "deal with social dynamics in society" and transform the economy.

"It should be access to land and the allocation of land to people who have been deprived of access to land.

"All programs must ensure that black people benefit from the economy of the country."

He emphasised that it was not just about addressing social economic problems, but restoring the dignity of the majority.

Cliff said he found this ironic, as politicians were the first to jump onto racial divisions for their own party political interests.

"It's ironic that the politicians say we can't debate and fix things when that's exactly what we are relying on them to do and they not doing... The average South African does want to have these discussions.

"Black and white South Africans are doing things together already and in many ways those things are far more useful than things politicians are accusing us of not doing."

Cliff said it was the job of citizens of the country to take the lead.

"If the politicians want to sit on the outside of the discussion shouting in, we going to make sure that we move forward without them, I'm afraid.

"There are many South Africans who believe that those answers do not lie with politicians anymore," he said.

Cliff on the ANCYL's planned protest at the Idols SA auditions:

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