How blacks let baas win race debate

2011-03-12 13:37

Almost a year after it aired, a cleverly edited version of an interview Jimmy Manyi gave to Freek Robinson was excavated; put on YouTube; and accompanied by a statement from Solidarity union, saying that coloureds and Indians stand to lose their jobs when the Employment Equity Bill, now before Parliament, becomes law.

Dr Wilmot James, an MP whom one would have thought had a greater sense of ­decency, then eagerly seized on ­another obscure speech made a year ago in Durban.

There, Manyi at worst made a joke in bad taste.

James fervently waves this as proof that coloured and Indian workers are indeed under threat.And so newspapers have allowed an unrepresentative group of ­Afrikaner irreconcilables to ­determine the content of national discourse.

In exile during the late 70s and 80s, interested foreigners ­regularly asked how it was possible for a minority – who never made up more than 12% of the ­population – to ­oppress the ­remaining 88%.

The answer came in volumes over the past two weeks.

Rather than focus on the issue the bill is designed to address; black politicians, ­editors, writers and other black opinion leaders have outdone themselves in ­attacking Manyi.

White males have dominated the upper echelons of every sector of South African society since 1900 and continue to do so. This fraction of 12% of the population occupy 72% of the executive positions in corporate South Africa.

They dominate our universities, professions and land ownership. Africans, who account for 75% of the population, barely make up 20%.

Instead of debating that, we blacks have turned on each other in an exercise that must have ­restored every imperialist’s faith in the ­tactics of divide and rule. ­

Fingers were pointed and accusations of racism were bandied about.

Manyi was a racist! Manuel was a gangster!How can less than 12% ­dominate 88%?

Because the 12% know how to divide the 88% by making them squabble over the crumbs left over from the feast.

What brought the tragedy home most sharply was an arrogant weekly newsletter by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille.

After waxing lyrical about the World Cup and other feel-good events, she goes on to discuss the Reitz Four and how that matter was resolved.

Zille is full of praise for the ­African women who were humiliated by four white students, who were so forgiving, so understanding and so lacking in bitterness. How would she have reacted had the boot been on the other foot?

Remember the unseemly haste with which she drove an African city manager out of his job when she became mayor of Cape Town?

Zille elevated Manyi’s ill-chosen words into something akin to ­Hitler’s Mein Kampf by race-baiting Trevor Manuel, claiming he was only playing politics in ­attacking Manyi.

The three black communities ­responded to freedom very ­differently.

Trevor Manuel’s ­protestations notwithstanding, do the majority of coloureds in ­Western Cape regard freedom as something they fought for and achieved?

It is clear that most Africans see freedom as the outcome of a struggle they waged.

But it seems that for many coloureds, the end of apartheid was something brought about by FW de Klerk, as captured in a carnival song in January 1994: ­“Hier kom De Klerk, met die nuwe Suid Afrika!”

This, perhaps, ­explains why so many ­coloureds voted NP in 1994.

The Indian community, that had ­produced a significant number of liberation fighters in the 50s, was noticeable by its absence from the mass struggles – street battles, mass demonstrations and mass rallies – during the 70s and 80s.

Frantz Fanon explains the ­psychosis colonised people ­practise against each other. ­

Powerless against the structural and psychological violence of the oppressor, according to Fanon, the colonised vent their fury on their equally powerless brothers and sisters.

Could Manuel’s attack on Manyi be a case in point?

And what of Paul Ngobeni’s vicious ­response to Manuel?

However insulting Manyi’s ­remarks might have been to ­coloureds, they are small potatoes, comprising only 14.3% of the ­labour force in Western Cape.Shouldn’t Manuel direct his ­anger at this?

Manyi might have ­offended an Indian or two with his remarks in Durban, but there is no record to indicate that he actually did.

If the name of the family who own The New Age and Sahara was Goldberg, rather than Gupta, would we tolerate the innuendos, subtle hints, winks and nudges that abound about them in our ­media?

Isn’t that what Jay Naidoo should be shrieking about?

The ­elephant in the room is the pent-up anger of black South ­Africans against their former ­oppressors and their frustration at being ­unable to change that ­situation ­meaningfully.

That anger invariably turns ­inwards.

Aubrey Matshiqi hit it on the head when he said: “Some of the silences on race are achieved through intellectual and other forms of intimidation.”Who has had the last laugh in this entire episode?

 Solidarity, white male corporate executives and business leaders whose dominant position remains unchallenged. Well played, baas.‘Fingers were pointed and accusations of racism were bandied about.

Manyi was a racist! Manuel was a gangster!

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