The best of South African literature
The year is 2014, Madiba the man is gone but his spirit lives on. In some quarters, there is some level of anxiety as to what happens now, now that the man with the big shoulders is gone.
I have listened to many ANC speakers who were at pains to explain that the principle of non-racialism, no domination of one racial group by another, and South Africa is for all who live in it that Madiba stood for, was not a personal mission of his but rather the mandate of the party, which was articulated as far back as 1957 by AJ Luthuli, former president of the ANC in his letter to prime minister JG Strijdom. We therefore start the year in the safe hands of the ANC.
I must add that it would be naive in the extreme to suggest that there was no Mandela effect. It is instructive to point out that even when a presentation is a team effort, if the presenter is a tired person with no charisma, the whole effort goes to waste.
Therefore, Madiba the person did a sterling job in representing what the ANC stands for.
The question though is whether Madiba’s magnanimity was fully understood and reciprocated or perhaps the roots of racism were far deeper than imaginable. Somehow, there is more evidence pointing to the latter.
In about June 1995, during the Rugby World Cup, Madiba moved to unite the nation by wearing the Number 6 jersey as he entered the stadium to congratulate the Springboks. At the time, an overwhelming majority of black people who voted for the ANC were opposed to the Springbok emblem.
By wearing that jersey, Madiba risked his political equity for the sake of fast-tracking the objectives of the Freedom Charter to ensure one nation united in its diversity.
Sadly though, this euphoria was short-lived because in March 1998, just under three years later, the late rugby boss Louis Luyt, may his soul rest in peace, took Madiba to court and accused him of not properly applying his mind in respect of the political decision that he took to establish a commission to look into transformation issues in rugby.
Most rational people were brought to tears; others extremely angered by the ungratefulness of Luyt and his ilk when Mandela said in court, “I would never have imagined that Louis would be so insensitive, ungrateful and disrespectful to say when I gave my affidavit (submitted earlier to the court) I was lying”.
After Madiba had languished in jail for 27 years and came out without any bitterness, and in fact in some instances went against his own comrades to forge national unity, why did Luyt and his supporters not give him the benefit of the doubt?
The question is, given the amount of time this ANC government is spending in courts, are Madiba’s fears not justified when he expressed some discomfort in going to court for the Luyt matter fearing that this might open floodgates and set a bad precedent resulting in government being undermined?
Notwithstanding the accountability that is required to the South African population, why is it that the good intentions of this ANC government are always distorted, second-guessed and undermined?
Is this not the abuse of the hard-negotiated constitutional democracy? Why is it that when section 15 (3) of the Employment Equity Act is clear and explicit that quotas are excluded, Helen Zille and the DA continue to make false and unfounded allegations that the Employment Equity Act uses racial quotas?
How different is this from the Luyt saga as described earlier, that disappointed Madiba?
Zille and the DA refuse to commit to measurable proportions of black representation that reflect their quantum of economically active population, yet in their recent conference they acknowledged the centrality of race in the redress mechanisms.
This hypocrisy of the DA validates the anxiety reported in the media that under DA rule, apartheid will return.
The toilet saga in the Western Cape where a bucket system is replaced by a “new and improved”, wait for it, bucket system, is a real expression of where the DA places the humanity of black people. This is NOT what Madiba spent 27 years in jail for.
US President Barack Obama had this to say in memory of Madiba: “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.”
The DA talks about “broadening the opportunities”, which in reality simply amounts to an attempt to maintain the status quo by co-opting a few black faces who are “not like the others”. Some well-meaning blacks in the DA are unfortunately yoked into this assimilation strategy.
Malcolm X would have said the DA just wants “House niggers”. How else does one explain the disproportionality between the DA making a fundamentally progressive point of agreeing with the ANC government’s reference to race and the paucity of blacks in top levels, and then be cold-feeted in agreeing to a fair and inclusive quantification system as a remedy? In Xhosa, this is called Lala gusha ndikuchebe. Mr Trollip, please translate this to your fellow members. The truth is that the EE Act which, by the way, came into effect during the Madiba presidency, only makes reference to numeric goals and targets. How else should progress on redress of racially engineered disenfranchisement be measured?
Importantly and contrary to the disinformation campaign of the DA, the targets that companies are monitored on are NOT imposed by the government; these targets are set by the companies themselves.
Furthermore, in the event that the company fails to achieve its own set targets, the director-general review system has a rational process that allows for explanations that are genuine, which may have caused the non-achievement of those targets. Levies are not applied arbitrarily.
There is nothing new and profound about the stimulus approach that the DA is only now 15 years later proposing. Since inception, the Commission for Employment Equity, a creation of the ANC government, which I must add includes members of Business Unity SA (Busa), has always been empowered to carry out recognition awards for companies that are performing well on Employment Equity. It is unfortunate that to date, no company has met the envisaged standards to qualify for the prestigious recognition.
So the strengthening of the enforcement mechanisms could have been avoided if the desired levels of transformation were achieved.
By the way, the ANC government is still lenient in the enforcement measures as approved in the recent Employment Equity Amendment Bill. The government could have simply promulgated section 53(4) of the Employment Equity Act, which would have given it an immediate power to refuse doing business with offenders or stop existing contracts with companies that are not transformed.
The statistics for the Commission for EE makes a startling revelation that almost 75 percent of the skilled workforce in South Africa is black.
However, it would seem that the 25 percent white skilled base is the only resource that companies in South Africa largely use.
Lastly, the DA and their sympathetic economists are always at pains to point out, albeit incorrectly, that economic growth is the only solution to unemployment.
The truth is that owing to the complexities of our economy, which the various inclusive growth plans of the government are trying to deal with, South Africa at some stage (during the GEAR period) in our democracy experienced phenomenal economic growth that was not matched by employment, duped “jobless growth”. So, no, economic growth on its own is not a solution to unemployment. No wonder the ANC has coined the term “inclusive growth”.
The DA must not oppose ANC government policies just for the sake of opposing them without offering cogent and well-considered alternatives that are genuine and without racist undertones.
At this point it may be useful to point out that the multiracialism of the DA must not be confused with non-racialism.
Zille and the DA must be ashamed of exhibiting Louis Luyt tendencies where well-meant remedies are treated with disdain.
Following their belated admission that race is directly correlatable with disadvantage, which was visited upon our people by apartheid, the Progressive Professionals Forum calls on Zille and the DA, as the remaining larger and recognisable reminder of our racist past, to do the noble thing, seize the moment and apologise for apartheid.
The DA has failed to show any remorse for having been an active participant in the racist system that oppressed black South Africans. Instead, the DA continues to display brazen arrogance as if 20 years of political liberation is enough to reverse more than 300 years of successive forms of colonialism, racism and exploitation.
Manyi is the president of Progressive Professionals Forum.
The Sunday Independent