Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS
The South African Constitution makes the status of non-racialism categorically clear by declaring in section 1, dealing with the fundamental values on which our democratic sovereign state is based, that non-racialism is one of these values.

Furthermore, both the ANC's own constitution and the legendary Freedom Charter endorse this vital principle by declaring categorically in the latter that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white". 

The above is an explanation of the constitutional and legal position as well as the traditional and historical political position of the ANC.

In the heroic liberation struggle, the ANC’s leadership and prominent spokespersons and leaders reflected this principle of non-racialism.

In this regard, Theuns Eloff, executive director of the De Klerk Foundation, has penned a very interesting and perceptive article on the antithetical perspectives in relation to the seminal question of non-racialism in the now acri- moniously divided ANC. He does this using significant information from a 30-page leaked document of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, which has caused a furore on social media and particularly with the ANC.

First, Eloff points out that the Thabo Mbeki Foundation believes the issue of expropriation without compensation (EWC) is possible without a formal amendment to section 25 of the Constitution.

However, what is of profound significance is that the demand for such an amendment is unfortunately race-based. Second, in this regard he explains that the crucial issue is how this recent ANC decision to amend section 25 for the express purpose of EWC impacts in no uncertain manner on the need to build a non-racial society as envisaged in both the Constitution and that of the ANC as a political party.

His opinion is a clear indication that the TMF has come to the inescapable conclusion that the extant ANC has departed from the traditional view and principle of non-racialism.

He opines that the inevitable result of this is that the ANC has effectively been transformed into an essentially "black or Africanist party" in the narrow sense of the word. This means the ANC can no longer be a "parliament of the people" as it has been historically.

Eloff observes that for some time now, starting with the Zuma presidency, matters have gone awry and that a process of re-racialising the state and its operation has been occurring inexorably.

This is bringing about a system of racial nationalism, facilitated by aggressive affirmative action, in the form of cadre deployment, radical black empowerment and unqualified employment equity - all under the guise of "transformation". Racial representation, based most frequently on the national demography of 80% African, 9% coloured, 9% white and 2% Indian, gives rise to a racial formula of 80:9:9:2 for these groups when it comes to employment in the civil service and elsewhere.

The marginalisation of minorities has also been exacerbated by the vociferous rhetoric of decolonisation which has emerged out of the #FeesMustFall movement at the universities, starting with UCT.

In certain policy documents dealing with the National Democratic Revolution, white South Africans were described, derogatively, as "colonialists of a special kind". All of this must inevitably give rise to a manifest polarisation, rather than national reconciliation and nation building.

The two streams or factions associated with Ramaphosa and Zuma respectively are probably incompatible and at some time in the future there must be a parting of the ways. This could change the face of South African politics fundamentally forever.

Devenish is Emeritus Professor at UKZN and one of the scholars who assisted in drafting the Interim Constitution in 1993