Veteran journalist Allister Sparks yesterday declared apartheid architect and former South African prime minister, Hendrik Verwoerd, as one of the many “smart” politicians he has met in the course of his career. His comments were compared to those made by former Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini’s remarks on his love for Hitler.
Veteran journalist Allister Sparks has been compared to Mcebo Dlamini after he listed Hendrik Verwoerd as one of the many smart politicians he has encountered at the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal in Port Elizabeth congress yesterday.
“I’ve encountered some really smart politicians, like the likes of Harry Lawrence, Bernard Friedman, Margaret Ballinger, Helen Zille, Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Marais Steyn, Japie Basson and yes, Hendrik Verwoerd,” Sparks said.
The comments, which failed to list a single Black politician, was made in a tribute speech for outgoing DA leader Helen Zille. They were almost immediately condemned by many on Twitter, and subsequently compared to the Facebook post of Dlamini.
Invoking Verwoerd as eg of great leadership in a country populated by those he harmed is not a flippin joke! https://t.co/ES7bWSPiuN
— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) May 9, 2015
An angry black student reveres Hitler and rightly gets skewered. A white liberal admires Verwoerd and some try ‘explain’ his offensiveness. — Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) May 9, 2015
Alister Sparks saying Verwoerd was a good politician. I think he’s scoping to be head of the WITS SRC.
— Chester Missing (@chestermissing) May 9, 2015
It’s funny how people condemned Mcebo Dlamini for his comments on Hitler but when Allister Sparks admires Verwoerds intellect he’s defended. — Alex Hotz (@alexhotzzz) May 10, 2015
— Frank Abagnale Jr. (@MeLighty) May 10, 2015
Verwoerd is considered to be the ‘architect’ of Apartheid, the system of racial segregation and oppression.
Political analyst and academic Eusebius McKaiser referred to both Sparks’ and Dlamini’s comments as “morally indefensible”
According to Professor Anton Harber, the head of Wits Journalism and the chairperson of the Freedom of Expression Institute, Sparks speaking at a political event is inappropriate for an independent journalist.
“His list of clever polticians showed a deep prejudice,” Harber added.
Harber also listed Sparks’ failure to retract his comments and apologise as one of his errors.
Like Dlamini, he stood by his comments saying that while Verwoerd’s policies were atrocious, the former prime minister built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.
“What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to say he was dumb or stupid? He wasn’t stupid,” Sparks is reported to have said.
Meanwhile McKaiser has challenged Sparks to a public debate about his comments.