Chinese-born MP ‘replacing Mthembu’ causes conflict.

The appointment of MP Xiaomei Havard – a former Chinese citizen – has sparked a fierce debate about who should be allowed to run for office in South Africa.

Following a 17-year political career in South Africa, Dr. Xiaomei Havard has been chosen to serve as an MP in Parliament. She replaces the late Jackson Mthembu, who passed away last week. Despite the doctor’s wealth of experience, Havard has also been embroiled in scandal before – and her Chinese background has drawn some uncomfortable reactions.

Xiaomei Havard is filling the empty MP slot left by Jackson Mthembu.  Havard moved to Gauteng for her university studies. She obtained a doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Johannesburg and also  holds a master’s in electrical engineering. She joined the ANC in 2004 and has served as president of the Africa Federation of Chinese Women in Commerce and Industry.

Havard has also been an active servant for BRICS, attending multiple forums for the five-nation support group. Although competent and qualified, her personal conduct has been severely questioned. Last year, the ANC Integrity Commission listed her as one of 23 members suspected of “corruption, mismanagement or other acts of misconduct”.

The allegations against the newly appointed MP are yet to be substantiated. But, rather unfortunately, the main talking point regarding Xiaomei Havard is the fact that she was born in the Chinese province of Henan. She is a naturalised citizen and stayed to live and work in South Africa after completing her studies. The doctor also has a South African husband.

However, despite being firmly entrenched in Mzansi, the decision for her to replace Jackson Mthembu as a serving MP did not go down well with some of the people Havard may eventually see in Parliament. Vuyo Zungula is the leader of the African Transformation Movement and he has been vehement in his opposition.

“If a black person born in China can never be a member of the Chinese Parliament… Why does SA allow a Chinese-born person to be a member of the SA Parliament, and make laws for South Africans?”

“The Chinese protects the economy for its people, and has an expansion program for its industries across the world. With so many China malls/towns in South Africa and around the world, how many African malls or towns are there in China?” asked Vuyo Zungula

Party colleague and former ANC supremo, Mzwanele Manyi echoed the same sentiments. Trends such as ‘#NoChineseInSAParliament’ and #SARejectsXiaomeiHavard’ have been trending on Twitter as those rallying against the new MP deny accusations of xenophobia. Manyi said there is a weakness in the governing system.

“There’s a weakness in the South African Constitution. No naturalised foreigner should qualify to be a public representative. Only native South Africans should qualify,” said Manyi.

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