Steenhuisen: Racist incident on Gareth Cliff show had nothing to do with me

During a discussion with DA leader John Steenhuisen and community activist Mudzuli Rakhivhane on 22 October, Gareth Cliff insinuated that racism was not as big a problem as poor service delivery.

FILE: DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen has defended his behaviour during a panel discussion on Gareth Cliff's Burning Platform show following a racist incident.

During a discussion with Steenhuisen and community activist Mudzuli Rakhivhane on 22 October, Cliff insinuated that racism was not as big a problem as poor service delivery.

He also went on to say that nobody cared about Rakhivhane's lived experiences of racism as a black person in South Africa.

Following public outrage, chicken brand Nando's announced the termination of its five-year sponsorship of Cliff's Burning Platform show the next day.

READ: Putting the flame out: Nando's cuts ties with Cliff's show after racist incident

However, Steenhuisen also came in for criticism, with people on social media saying his behaviour demonstrated that he agreed with Cliff's sentiments.

During a subsequent interview with Nickolaus Bauer on 702, Steenhuisen refuted that he smirked during the exchange between Cliff and Rakhivhane.

"Are we policing people's facial expressions in South Africa? I find it very odd this whole situation. It's like blaming a passenger in a taxi because the driver of the taxi jumped a stop street and had an accident with someone.

"I was a guest on the show, I was invited to talk about service delivery, and if you watch the full interview, that's exactly what I did," said Steenhuisen.

"What Gareth did with another guest is his business. When you start policing people's facial expressions, I think we are starting to hit a new low in South Africa.

When asked how he felt about what Cliff said to Rakhivhane, Steenhuisen responded, "I think we have reached a new low in SA where we are blaming another panelist for an interaction between two completely separate individuals".

"I don't negate anybody's lived experiences. The lived experience of all South Africans has to be our concern. And if you don't accept people's lived experiences, well, then you're in the wrong game if you're in politics."

Listen to the full interview with John Steenhuisen below:

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