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Is Julius Malema a fair man?

2014-05-06 07:03
Mark Whelan Comments: 49 Article views: 3332

IF JULIUS MALEMA, Commander in Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters, was a man of fairness, he will return the land of the Cape of Good Hope to the indigenous people of that region should he come to power as he so plans to do. Strictly speaking, this would mean that the people, born and bred and classified as Cape Coloured by the racist regime of H F Verwoerd, D F Malan and even the so-called United Party of Churchill’s man in Africa, Field-Marshal Jan Smuts, will re-inherit the land taken away from them since the days when the Flying Dutchman, Jan van Riebeeck, first stepped ashore of the Cape of Good Hope.

If the land of the Western Cape and, for that matter, the vast regions which make up the Province of the Northern Cape, is returned, out of all fairness, to the indigenous people of these regions, the people classified as Coloured will inherit it. Most Coloured people of South Africa are direct descendants of the Khoi-Khoi and the nomadic San people who, it has been proved through historical and anthropological studies, have inhabited (but not owned) this land for thousands of years. There is even a school of thought which says that the San people were the first human beings to walk this earth, peacefully co-existing amongst Southern Africa’s ‘wild’ flora and fauna which today are, like the Coloured people of South Africa, under threat.

If Julius Malema was a man of fairness, he would retreat to the regions from which he originated. That being said, it is in all probability the regions today known as Zimbabwe and Zambia, and even the regions around the Great Lakes. It is from these regions that the Zulus and Xhosa’s originated. Comparatively speaking, and to apply the mind-set of Malema and one Jimmy Manyi (who famously declared that “there was an oversupply of Coloureds in the Western Cape”), the people known to the world as Xhosa’s and Zulus are, like their European counterparts, no more than settlers in this still-rich land of South Africa.

If, on reading this, you think that I am deranged and perhaps even racist, think again. Think very carefully who the real racist in this post-2014 South African elections scenario is. I happen to disagree with everything, and I mean everything, that Julius Malema has said and done since his rise to power through the ranks of the African National Congress Youth League, co-founded by its legendary stalwart, the late Walter Sisulu.

Today, sadly, his children preside over a divided South Africa. Max Sisulu has yet to apply his mind to the Democratic Alliance’s call to have the country’s current president, Jacob Zuma, removed from office, through a democratic process in Parliament in which he is the House Speaker, on the side of the ruling African National Congress. Mr Sisulu’s daughter, the attractive Lindiwe, not the DA’s Lindiwe, is a member of Zuma’s cabinet. Her brother, Max, has yet to call her to order for the outrageous reference to the DA member’s “flea-infested body”. Compare this to the utterances of the genocidaire’s of Rwanda’s racially categorised Hutu’s over twenty years ago when referring to the Tutsi’s as cockroaches.

The Democratic Alliance’s leader, Helen Zille, was, around the same time that Sisulu made her remarks in parliament, forced to apologise for her own remarks made in reference to the steady influx of South Africans from the dysfunctional Eastern Cape, mis-ruled since 1994 by the ANC, into the Western Cape. She called them “refugees”. Grammatically-speaking her analogy was correct, but unfortunately, and I happen to agree with this, it was outrageous and degrading to those whom she referred to.

Nevertheless, these self-same and suffering people are now a growing majority living amongst the shack-lands of the City of Cape Town. Zille’s opponent in the race to the Premier’s office during this year’s elections, Marius Fransman, chairman of the regional ANC, has joined in the anarchic call to make the Western Cape ungovernable. Now, instead of directly calling on him to resign for his mostly racist remarks, I should have asked Fransman, how on God’s earth progress can be made on behalf of both the indigenous and marginalised people of this region if it is then ungovernable after the elections draw to a close?

Fransman had this to say to me; “shame on you.”

Such a remark can carry many meanings, but I will not dwell on it. But let us reflect for a moment on what Fransman has in the past said (thus leading me to accuse him of racism in the first place). Long-serving and retiring Member of Parliament, the ANC’s Ben Turok, a member of Parliament’s ethics committee no less, dismissed probing questions from the Western Cape’s foremost political analyst, Chester Missing (racially classified as a wooden puppet) on the rising spectre of Julius Malema. In short, Turok dismissed Malema as a maverick non-entity, not a factor in the political landscape of South Africa.

But when Fransman made loud reference to the vast tracts of land still owned by the Jews in the greater Cape Town region (also derogatorily referred to as the Cape Flats) and the need to redress such unfair ownership, the non-believing Semite wailed in protest, echoing his fellow retiree, Trevor Manuel, “that’s racist!” By the powers that BEE, and because at that time it was politically expedient to do so, Fransman was forced to retract his derogatory statements on the ownership of land by Jews who migrated over a period of decades from Europe to this land of milk and honey as a result of brutal pogroms against their descendants by Russians under Tsarist, Communist and Stalinist rule, and the Germanic onslaught which gave rise to Hitler’s evil Final Solution.

But Fransman had a point. And he was not wrong either. The derelict land on the outskirts of the Cape Town metropole, was once home to thousands of indigenous people, the Cape Coloureds, let us just say for the sake of others. It was a burgeoning community known as District Six. While many elderly claimants are very slowly but surely returning to this hallowed ground, District Six, as we remember it, will never be the same. It will never be what it once was.

Now, most of the community that lived in District Six, paid exorbitant rents to absentee landlords (or slum-lords as they are widely called today). The filth and squalor in which the tenants lived was blamed on them. But it was the fault of the Jewish landlords who refused to keep their side of the bargain in maintaining their properties. Rather, they let it go to the dogs. And when the apartheid bulldozers rolled in to flatten District Six (and remove its inhabitants to the so-called Cape Flats), the landowners were compensated for their loss of land tenure by the National Party regimes of Verwoerd, Vorster and Botha.

Today, the descendants of the legendary communities of District Six live in squalor in run-down, makeshift blocks of flats with dangerous stair-wells too difficult for Ouma’s and Oupa’s to negotiate. Today, the City of Cape Town Council, led by ex-Pan Africanist Congress cadre, Alderman Patricia de Lille, has inherited the mantle of supreme slum lord.

But, in all fairness to the Democratic Alliance-led City of Cape Town and Western Cape Province, the legacy of apartheid and its inherent racism, high unemployment and ultimately poor living standards and lack of service delivery, could not be overturned overnight. The DA has only been in power for little under five years, and in the 2014 South African elections, is seeking re-election to address these social ills of inequality which started when the National Party first came to power in 1948. In fact it started long before the British Empire first introduced institutionalised segregation in the Western Cape. I am reminded of this legacy whenever I pass on foot the slave bell in the Company Gardens first tenured by Jan van Riebeeck’s successor, Simon van der Stel.

In a functioning constitutional democracy, one would have thought that five years would be adequate in beginning to address the inequality seen daily in the streets “with no name”. One of the DA’s election statements is clear when it says that over 70 percent of its allocated budget has gone to addressing the plight of the poor. It is difficult to see any fruit in this when places of refuge such as the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Manenberg is faced with closure due to a lack of funds. For its survival, and many centres like it around the country, it relies on both foreign and private donations. That being said, and in consideration of the apartheid legacy, five years does not even begin to be enough to address these ills.

But, in contrast, and to contradict Jacob Zuma’s “good story”, the ANC has been in power for nearly twenty years. Would it be fair to ask the question that with the vast resources this country was blessed with and, ironically even, the modicum of infrastructure that was left behind after FW de Klerk handed over the keys to the Office of the State President to the late Nelson R Mandela, twenty years in a functioning constitutional democracy was more than enough time to positively address the inequality engineered and presided over by no less than four Prime Ministers and two State Presidents over a period of 44 dictatorial years?

It is remarkable how in such a short space of time, that being said, the regime of Jacob Zuma, the path to racial, cultural and religious reconciliation started by icons such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Desmond Tutu, is quickly unravelled. It is also remarkable how quickly the health of the nation’s predominantly poor and marginalised regressed into full-blown AIDS while Zuma’s predecessor, Thabo Mbeki entered into a philosophical mental laager of denialism.

Instead of continuing the elder statesman’s path of reconciliation (which to my mind, would have led to progressive strides towards freedom – educational, material, cultural – and equality), Thabo Mbeki chose to emulate the evil path of social engineering carried out by Mandela’s predecessors. The bluntest example of such social engineering comes in the form of BBBEE, the acronym which directly translates into Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment. It is true to say that, like the Afrikaners who supported the National Party regime during South Africa’s darkest days, many black South Africans have benefited to the tune of thousands of state-created jobs and careers. Private enterprise has also benefited marvellously through the government’s tax incentives which dictate handsome rebates in proportion to the number of black (not Coloured, or white) South Africans that they employ. The Zuma regime today also boasts of an improving matric pass rate. But it is inadequate in ensuring that thousands of mostly black South African youths gain access to a formal and tertiary institution in which they could study to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, social workers, chartered accountants, even commercial artists, skills that a country of South Africa’s size sorely needs.

South Africa, I am afraid to say, shows no signs of exiting the damaging and destructive phase of Zumanomics where self-enrichment, rather than service delivery and duty to nation, is the order of the day. It is widely believed that Zuma’s ANC will handsomely win the 2014 South African elections.

But what will happen in the post-Zuma years?

By the time Zuma’s term of office ends, he will be around 78 years of age. He is not likely to emulate the example of perpetual rule by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and will more than likely retire as a hero of the struggle for South Africa’s emancipation from slavery and apartheid to his crumbling estate known world-wide as Nkandla. But what if the ANC does the right and honourable thing by recalling Zuma for his corrupt and inept rule? In all probability, his Number Two, Zweli Mkize, the ANC’s treasurer-general, will inherit the levers of power as a compromise candidate, rather than the billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s internally elected deputy president.

Mkize will do everything within his power to further centralise the ANC’s power base, but as they say, the centre will not hold. The rise of the Labour Movement has begun. It’s probable leader? Not Joseph Mathunjwa, the maverick leader of the renegade mining union AMCU. Nor Irvin Jim, the radical and strangely likeable socialist. Nor even Zwelinzima Vavi, the “principled” reinstated secretary general of COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Not yet forty, Julius Malema will follow the long tradition of returning prodigal sons and  proceed to dismantle this centre of power which has held the ANC together for over one hundred years. While the black middle class, mainly through social engineering, will continue to grow steadily, the masses of the poor, marginalised and unemployed will grow still faster, having all been fooled into believing that their president Jacob Zuma would deliver on election promises made under the aegis of Nelson Mandela’s ANC, and give the benefit of doubt (and hope) to Malema.

But is Malema a fair man, as many are trying so hard to believe (and hope)?

No.


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