Max du Preez

ANC's election strategy 'reckless'

2016-01-26 07:17

Max du Preez

There is only one word for the present ANC policy to cynically abuse race and racism as an election strategy: reckless.

I don’t do this lightly, but I do think it is appropriate to remind readers of the cockroach strategy of dehumanising a whole population group that we saw unfold in Rwanda in 1994.

The rhetoric is getting more extreme and threatening every week. One day soon a spark in the right environment could ignite something really dangerous.

Wild, irresponsible posts on social media by unstable hotheads are one thing. I’m talking about the behaviour of senior figures of the ruling party – and some other politicians, for that matter.

And right in the middle of this storm the Afrikaner interest group AfriForum launched a crude anti-ANC propaganda film called Tainted Heroes that chose to ignore a large part of the truth behind the violence of the late 1980s and early 1990s: the apartheid state’s role in fomenting the violence between the IFP and ANC/UDF and the sinister role of its Third Force. The facts are readily available: the Goldstone Commission Report, the TRC reports, the Trust Feed, KwaMakutha and other court cases, Eugene de Kock’s confessions, etcetera.

It’s as if AfriForum wanted to tell its supporters: see how barbaric blacks are.

This is equally reckless.

How do we save a nation with such opportunists?

Many whites don’t want to hear this, but there’s no use sweetening this pill: white racist attitudes are not only morally wrong, they’re threatening our stability.

Sure, bad governance, weak management of the economy and corruption are also threats, but it’s simply stupid and dishonest to say these are the reasons for racism, or that these issues are more important than racism and we should just get on with it.

Racism must be fought hard and culprits criminalised.

But there can be no denying that our battle against racism is being seriously undermined by parties using it for party political gain.

The ANC leadership is using its Youth League and some of its apparatchiks, like parliamentary spokesperson Maloto Mothapo, to do its dirty work.

The Youth League’s latest lunacy is that “white supremacists” are behind the student protests to prove that blacks can’t govern.

Another example is the violent removal of the Zuma Must Fall Banner from a Cape Town building and the charge by local ANC leaders that the banner was a white declaration of war on blacks.

Now the DA-MP who had her picture taken next to a cutout of former Transvaal Republic president Paul Kruger (he died 115 years ago) is, according to Mothapo, a nasty racist and apologist for apartheid and her party a “sanctuary of hard-core racists”.

At some point in his political education Mothapo must have read some Goebbels, the Nazis’s chief propagandist. “Kruger was a ruthless and bloodthirsty colonial era racist ruler who presided over the mass killings, torture, harassment, and cruel destruction of Black communities”, he says. “Kruger was a killing machine that carried out brutal attacks on various African tribes and condemned Black people to death in the Anglo Boer wars, whose purpose was to preserve the racial subjugation, slavery and colonial looting of resources.”

Really, Moloto? Have you ever wondered why it was called the Anglo Boer war? Not an inkling in your mind that this was the British Empire waging war on the tiny, impoverished Boer republic because of the discovery of gold? Yes, black South Africans did get caught up in it and suffered greatly, but they weren’t the reason for the war.

There’s more: “He buried alive Black people that he suspected of spying or fighting on the side of the British and cut women's breasts while they were still alive. He was a heartless monster.” Now I can’t personally testify that this never happened because I wasn’t there, but I must have read pretty much the vast majority of publications on his life and on the Boer War and never came across this. More Goebbels, if you ask me.

My interactions with Mothapo tell me that he’s quite a sharp guy. Could it be possible that he’s so badly informed about history, or was this just a dirty propaganda trick?

The problem is that many others, including some I always thought were vaguely progressive, swallowed Mothapo’s nonsense and now classify Kruger as a Eugene TerreBlanche type figure.

Someone should try and explain to these people that South Africa went through a process of state and nation building during the 19th century and that, like happened in the rest of the world, it often involved violence and the subjugation of other groups.

I’m referring to Shaka who established the Zulu as a group, Mzilikazi the Ndebele, Sekwati the Pedi, Sobhuza the Swazi, Moshoeshoe the Sotho and so on.

I have personally written a lot about, and hero-worshipped, Mantatisi of the Tlokwa, mother of Sekonyela – the navy has named one of its submarines after her. What made her famous was that she succeeded in leading her clan away from attackers, the first being Mapangazitha’s Hlubi, who were in turn fleeing from Matiwane’s Ngwane, and that she succeeded in killing many of her opponents.

Paul Kruger, tribal leader of the Boers (Afrikaners outside the Cape) should be seen as part of these processes.

Sure, the case of Kruger and the Boers of the Transvaal and Free State is a little different in that they had distant European ancestors, but they did regard themselves as from this soil. Unless, of course, one chooses to see them (and their descendants) as unwelcome immigrants who didn’t belong anywhere in Africa. (Perhaps this is the real issue…)

The much-admired Founding Fathers of the United States George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were all slave owners who had cruelly robbed the Native Americans of their land.

When Kruger was president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, Teddy Roosevelt was president of the US. While he was president, he famously declared: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians [referring to Native Americans] are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

Kruger’s Australian counterpart was Edmund Burton, the man responsible for the White Australia Policy who had once declared: “The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman.”

Mahatma Gandhi, who was in South Africa during Kruger’s presidency, commonly called black South Africans the k-word.

These people were all, according to today’s sensibilities, nasty racists.

As an Afrikaner I don’t glorify Paul Kruger. I recognise that what he and his contemporaries did to local communities caused great harm, some which is still felt today.

At the same time I accept that he was a crucial figure in my ethnic group’s past and a man of his time and circumstance. Leave him be, please.

We really should be more nuanced when we deal with our past.

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