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Monday, December 18, 2017

The Face of South Africa

Credit: Hedman
Girls wearing Julius Malema t-shirts at a rally in 2010

The rise of new forms of racism in South Africa

Helen Zille is a brave woman. If you've not heard of her she is a South African politician, the premier of the Western Cape and the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), a political party that stands in opposition to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma. In her younger days, during the time of the old Apartheid system of white minority rule, she worked as journalist on the Rand Daily Mail.

It was she who exposed the government of the ruling National Party for lying about the death in prison of Steve Biko, the leader of the Black Consciousness movement. Faced with death threats, she was forced to resign. But she fought on in her own courageous fashion, joining Black Sash in the 1980s, a group of white woman campaigning peacefully for human rights in South Africa. After spending some time in prison for being in a black area without a permit, she was forced into hiding with her two-year-old son after the regime, tottering towards its end, declared a state of emergency.

Forget all that. Helen Zille is a racist. She is the boss, the ''madam'', at the head of Nazi-inspired white supremacist party, the old National Party wine in a new political bottle. She is "hell-bent on treating black people as subhuman", on taking the country back to the bad old Apartheid days. Black people considering voting for her Nazi-inspired DA risk angering their ancestors; they will never go to heaven; they risk hastening the death of ex-president Nelson Mandela, the country's secular saint and avatar.

So, you may wonder, what brought on this dramatic transformation, from liberal humanist to virulent racist? That's simple: her party has been making steady gains at the expense of the ANC, cutting into their black constituency, the people who 'belong' to them. So, during last month's municipal elections, out came the race card, played relentlessly by the leaders of the ANC, including Zuma, head of the 'rainbow nation.' No matter; people were not convinced, even black people, as the DA made steady advances in the poll, gaining one in four of the votes cast and retaining control of Cape Town.

The sad truth is that racism is on the rise in South Africa, and it's not white racism. The sheer nastiness of the municipal election campaign shows how sensitive the ANC is to any competition, even though it continues to attract the support of the vast majority of black voters. For a white woman to offer a challenge to their monopoly of power is unacceptable, exposing the limits of their tolerance and the potential weakness of democracy in South Africa.

You see, it's not Helen Zille who is the racist, not her who advances a Nazi-inspired ideology based on exclusiveness and prejudice. No, it's Julius Malema and he's not white - he's black. A fairly notorious character in South African politics, he heads the ANC's youth wing. Last year he visited Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, full of praise for the dictator's 'de-colonialisation' programme, which has all but wrecked the economy of what was once one of the richest countries in Africa. While he was there he entertained his hosts by singing an old war song, calling for the death of white farmers.

But Malema denies being a racist, denies hating white people. It’s just the “quality of whiteness” he hates, to use his own bizarre words. He was even more bizarre when he was in Harare, saying “They are so bright, so colourful, we refer to them as white people. Maybe their colour came as a result of exploiting our minerals and perhaps if some of us get opportunities in these minerals we can develop a nice colour like them.” I hope you can make sense of this gibberish, because I most certainly can’t!

Zille, the conscience of the nation, has faced new death threats, been called a “filthy whore” and “an exponent of a new apartheid” for her outspokenness. But look beyond the villas of the ANC cadres, look beyond the houses and the cars, and one might easily conclude that there is no need for a new apartheid, for the simple reason that the old apartheid is still very much in place; that the new bosses look very much like the old bosses, except for the colour of their skin; that oppression and poverty feel like oppression and poverty no matter if the ruler is white or black.

In many places people still live in squalid townships where the government fails to deliver on the most basic services, including clean water, sanitation and power. Protesters have been dispersed by riot squads using rubber bullets. This is why one in five of the DA's power base is now black, despite all of the obloquy heaped on the movement.

There is something rotten in the state of South Africa, a country where even the mildest criticism of the ruling party is increasingly depicted as racist. Insecure in themselves, saying that such criticism implies that "these darkies are incapable of governing", to quote one minister, they seem to offer no security for a peaceful and harmonious future. Nelson Mandela was the old face of the nation. The new one may turn out to be Julius Malema.



About the Writer

Anastasia is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on The Face of South Africa

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By TonyBerkman on June 06, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I lived in South Africa until I was 15 years old and reading your article breaks my heart.

You wrote this beautifully and your point is powerful and accurate. What a bright future South Africa had when Mandela took office. An opportunity to be the "gem" of Africa. An opportunity to lead the way to racial harmony.

Perhaps though it is not Africa. Perhaps it's neither black not white though a human condition where greed seems to trump color yet color is used as the expressed political trump card.

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By Anastasia on June 07, 2011 at 07:17 pm

I hope I'm not being too pessimistic, Tony, but the signs are not that good.

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By Sipu on June 08, 2011 at 03:20 am

Hello Ana. No you are not being too pessimistic at all. As a white ex Zimbabwean now loving in South Africa I can assure you that we are inundated with racial slurs and insults by the ANC. Not that I am particularly sensitive to such attacks but it does generate anti-minority sentiment (whites, coloureds and Asians) among the indigenous races. It gives them reason to hate and that of course gives them reason to commit horrendous crimes. The number of vicious and brutal murders of white farmers is well in excess of 3,000. Some estimates put it at over 4,000.

Leaving aside the inequity of Affirmitive Action and Black Economic Empowerment that perpetuate inefficiency and ineptitude in both public and private enterprise, we are now being threatened with legislation that will insist upon at least 50% of senior managers being female. This comes hard on the heels of criticism aimed at Helen Zille for employing an all male cabinet in the Western Cape. Not only is GodZille racist, she is also sexist, or so the ANC would have us believe.

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By Sipu on June 08, 2011 at 03:24 am

Hello Ana. No you are not being too pessimistic at all. As a white ex Zimbabwean now loving in South Africa I can assure you that we are inundated with racial slurs and insults by the ANC. Not that I am particularly sensitive to such attacks but it does generate anti-minority sentiment (whites, coloureds and Asians) among the indigenous races. It gives them reason to hate and that of course gives them reason to commit horrendous crimes. The number of vicious and brutal murders of white farmers is well in excess of 3,000. Some estimates put it at over 4,000.

Leaving aside the inequity of Affirmitive Action and Black Economic Empowerment that perpetuate inefficiency and ineptitude in both public and private enterprise, we are now being threatened with legislation that will insist upon at least 50% of senior managers being female. This comes hard on the heels of criticism aimed at Helen Zille for employing an all male cabinet in the Western Cape. Not only is GodZille racist, she is also sexist, or so the ANC would have us believe.

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By Anastasia on June 08, 2011 at 06:58 pm

Sipu, what a surprise! I'm delighted to see you here. :-)

I'm truly sorry to learn of your experiences, though. I must make life uncomfortable, no matter how desensitised one becomes.

Sipu, what a surprise! I'm delighted to see you here. :-)

I'm truly sorry to learn of your experiences, though. I must make life uncomfortable, no matter how desensitised one becomes.

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By Anastasia on June 09, 2011 at 07:42 pm

Alas, things change, often for the worse.

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By MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE on August 25, 2011 at 03:04 am

The South African youth who are often involved in violence do it on their own and others do it under a political flag. But the truth is that if these youths are educated about cohabitation, this can reduce. Peole who have been to South Africa for many years always witness the same views as above; I personally have been there for a month and unfortunately a friend of mine was punched a knife into his belly by a hooligan colored who had taken some ganja just because that friend refused to cede him hi phone. And the friend died at the spot. Those steet hooligan boys of South Africa refuse to do fucking jobs but when immigrants do them as they came there to seek money, they become enemies of those uneducated youths. They accuse them of taking their jobs, which they neglect and also taking their wives. These immigrants marry national girls for better integration and because South African youths refuse doing fucking jobs to get money but those immigrants do. Maybe also, these girls find something more attractive in immigrants than in their brothers, which makes them accept uniting with them.

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