South Africa: Crime Was Brought to Africa by European Colonialists - Baleka Mbete

21 October 2019

Cape Town — Former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete has raised eyebrows after a 49-minute interview with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan where she blamed South Africa's legacy of crime on Europeans who colonised the country. "Criminality has been in South Africa for three centuries, especially after the colonialists came and brought crime from Europe to Africa," Mbete said.

Hasan - who argued that while the British empire colonised South Africa, it did so to other countries too - also cited a World Bank statement which claimed South Africa to be the most unequal society on earth. "That's a very embarrassing title for your country to hold," Hasan said. Mbete retaliated by wondering whether the statistic was an exaggeration. "I really think we must see both good and bad. The World Bank is not God," said Mbete to laughter by some members of the audience.

Hasan countered by asking why South Africa had the fifth-highest murder rate in the world during 2015. When asked what the source of the data was by Mbete, Hasan said it was from the United Nations. "You may have heard of them. They're a big organisation," he added. Mbete replied saying,"So what?".

Mbete appeared on Al Jazeera's Head to Head show to defend the African National Congress (ANC) in an episode that posed the question of whether the ruling party betrayed former leader Nelson Mandela's legacy. "We can't blame the problems of South African society on the ANC," Mbete said.

She also defended the costs of former president Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla homestead by saying the property's swimming pool was a fire prevention tool. The former Parliamentary speaker also stood behind her support for Tony Yengeni, the only senior member of the ruling party to have been successfully prosecuted for corruption.

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