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As the Facebook group #ImStaying continues to grow in numbers, some South Africans are interrogating its purpose and impact.

The group has been credited with giving hope to despondent locals by posting uplifting messages about South Africa, encouraging them to stay in the country.

RELATED: 'It's OK to have hope' - Facebook group #ImStaying celebrates SA's potential

Cape Town real estate entrepreneur Jarette Petzer started the page last month. It now has 416,627 members and counting.

Petzer says the page is fostering compassion and connections between South Africans from all backgrounds.

But some locals disagree, claiming the group is extremely elitist, catering to a privileged white minority.

Petzer denies this and maintains that #ImStaying is all-inclusive.

It's an all-inclusive group. We've got people from every religion, race and from all across the country. Everybody is contributing.

Jarette Petzer, Founder of #I'mStaying

The diversity is growing in the background.

Jarette Petzer, Founder of #I'mStaying

We're open for everybody. This group is for the country; it's for South Africa.

Jarette Petzer, Founder of #I'mStaying

A Woodstock resident feels the group serves a white, wealthy minority that is privileged enough to consider emigration at all.

The group is extremely elitist. It's a fake positivity that only affects a minority group.

Dee-dee, CapeTalk caller

Do they want to listen, or do they want to mute and delete us? Our reality is different to their reality. They need to learn to listen.

Dee-dee, CapeTalk caller

The page has also been accused of deleting posts and removing members who offer a critique of the platform.

Petzer, however, says the group does not allow negative comments or discussions about politics, religion or what he refers to as "contentious issues."

Another Cape Town resident, Brett Anderson, puts forward that the idea of sharing only "positive" experiences is in itself a privileged act.

He says that white South Africans need to do more than just share positive stories in order to address inequality and the harsh lived experiences of the disadvantaged majority.

The change needs to happen - our fear is that the #ImStaying group is cancelling all of that and saying 'Let's just be happy.'

Brett Anderson, CapeTalk caller

I don't know why, but there are so many pictures of white people with their domestic workers in that group. Those are the majority of the stories.

Brett Anderson, CapeTalk caller

He says a smaller Facebook group, Conversations For A Just South Africa, is having those difficult discussions about race, privilege and inequality.

Listen to the #ImStaying founder in conversation with Melanie Rice:

Listen to some of the critique:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Facebook group #ImStaying responds to 'extremely elitist' backlash

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