Not Renaldo Gouws: Ian Cameron, DA MP’s racist past comes back to haunt him for blackface protest

DA MP Ian Cameron and Renaldo Gouws. Picture: Supplied

DA MP Ian Cameron and Renaldo Gouws. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 21, 2024


Fresh off the k-word scandal broken by IOL that has engulfed the Democratic Alliance, new footage and photographs have emerged of DA MP Ian Cameron in blackface.

Cameron was recorded in blackface at an Afriforum Youth protest outside of the Department of Higher Education and Training. The group claimed that the university's admissions policy eroded the rights of white South Africans.

The protest occurred in 2012, while the video of the students in blackface resurfaced in 2022.

Cameron has subsequently joined the DA and had been sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

Some party structures have in the past condemned instances of blackface, such as in 2014 when the DA Youth had commended the "Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) branch at the University of Pretoria for its work in bringing (a blackface) incident to the fore and requesting an investigation."

Two students were expelled from their residence at the University of Pretoria in 2014 for this.

A qualified apology

When approached for comment, Ian Cameron said that “I oppose race quotas, and as a member of Afriforum Youth in 2011 participated in a protest to this effect.

However, I acknowledge that blackface is not acceptable in modern society and for that I apologise - it detracts from the point we at Afriforum Youth were trying to make about exclusion on the basis of race quotas.

Cameron did not answer questions posed to him regarding whether his past political programme, including the blackface incident had been subject to DA vetting when he joined the party, and was selected to be a candidate as a Member of Parliament.

Slipped through the cracks

DA spokesman, Richard Newton has been the public face on the race controversies that have beset the party.

The party line appears to be to paint Renaldo Gouws as someone who escaped the strict vetting process of the Democratic Alliance.

On Ian Cameron’s blackface incident, Newton commented “the party notes the emergence of a video of DA MP Ian Cameron taking part in a protest 12 years ago as an activist for Afriforum. Mr Cameron has clarified his participation in this protest against unfair admissions policies at an institution of higher learning.”

When pressed by IOL as to questions on the DA’s vetting process, or the party’s stance on the racist practice of blackface, Newton responded that “the message above is our response on the matter.”

— ツ O R I (@Ori_RSA) June 21, 2024

IOL also requested comment from DA federal leader Helen Zille, who did not respond.

Since the controversial “kill the k*ffirs, kill all the n*ggers” video from DA MP Renaldo Gouws, the party has been at pains to paint their vetting practices as fit for purpose.

The DA has suspended Gouws for what it termed “execreble” language. Critics have pointed out that the DA has been at pains in their communications to avoid the words “racist” or “racism”.

The South African Human Rights Commission has subsequently hauled Gouws before the Equality Court on charges of hate speech and racist utterances.

Blackface as racism

Blackface originated in the 19th century where white performers would blacken their faces for the entertainment of a white audience.

Performances characterised black people as savage, lazy, cowardly, criminal, and stupid. It’s this production of stereotypes of black people that undergirds dehumanisation and violence against black people on a systemic and interpersonal scale.

The Democratic Alliance has of late hit choppy waters in their negotiations with Cyril Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) to form a Government of National Unity. The latest race controversies are sure to be a factor in the arm wrestling contest between DA and the ANC.