Durban - If Indians are of the view that they are being sidelined at the expense of Africans, then they must remember that under apartheid they (Indians) were better off, anti-apartheid activist and former Justice of the Constitutional Court, Zac Yacoob, said last weekend.
Presenting the annual lecture organised by the Kharwastan Civic Association, Justice Yacoob said during the era of institutionalised racism, Indians got a bigger slice of the education and other budgets.
He said passenger Indians came to South Africa under the pretext of assisting their fellow Indians.
Before long, many passenger Indians who became traders, thrived on making money from Africans.
The claim that Indians built their own schools was only true because Indians had more money, while Africans just didn’t have the means to do so, he said. “Affirmative action clearly states that those who suffered most must benefit most,” Justice Yacoob said.
On the question of racist tendencies within society, he said “many Indians are racist, just as I believe that many Africans are also racist”.
“However, from my personal interaction within the community, I can state that at least 90% of Indians that I come across are racist.”
Speaking on the topic “Mandela - Nation-building and Reconciliation”, Yacoob said for former president Nelson Mandela, nation-building and reconciliation meant developing a non-racial, equal and democratic society.
“Like Madiba, for me too, nation building means equality, non-racism and non-sexism. Our constitution clearly states that all shall be equal before the law. Equality means full enjoyment of all fundamental rights and freedoms.
“However, if we look at society today, there is a huge disconnect between the values enshrined in the Constitution and the values adopted by society.
“Most men think they are superior to women; 90% of women think they are inferior to men; and 95% of people are of the view that gays and lesbians live in sin.
“While the law is an important tool to achieve equality in society, the law, however, cannot be the only weapon.
“If we are truly committed to nation-building and reconciliation, then we must realise that court judgments cannot cut it by themselves.
"We must study the Bill of Rights and sincerely embrace the values of our Constitution. We must mobilise everybody to strive towards that society envisioned by Madiba, free of racism, inequality and sexism.”
Yacoob said the Constitution merely laid the foundation for equality. “We need a social revolution that will change hearts and minds towards an equal society.”
He added that civil society was more powerful than it was believed to be.
“We need to build a strong civil society to keep the government in check.
"I am wondering whether the ANC is so rotten that it cannot be cured, because the corruption runs so deep.
"However, we must not give up the struggle, and must get together as civil society to fight corruption.”