What you see is what you get

2011-06-04 09:31

Sandile Memela asks: “What’s wrong with this picture?” (City Press Voices, May 29) regarding a photograph of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and DA leader Helen Zille arm-wrestling during the local government elections.

I prefer to pose the question “What is right with this picture?” because there is more right than wrong.

The strong message that comes from this picture is one that says: “While we have been campaigning very hard against each other over the past few weeks, we are not enemies and we can still find a moment to fool around ­together as fellow citizens.”

Many other people will prefer that message to Memela’s, which says: “This picture reveals, quite innocently, the extent to which white-male power does not feature, but is still ­everywhere.’’

The picture is quite innocent but, as one who knows Zille quite well and works with her, I cannot see her as a proxy for white-male power.

One of the biggest flaws in Memela’s analysis is that he cannot see beyond colour.

This reminds me of apartheid days when black and white South ­Africans could play sport against one another, but only in their respective ­racial groupings.

In those heady days, each time a white player hard-tackled a black ­player, the black spectators would go mad, shouting angrily at the white player for being racist and deliberately wanting to hurt the black player.

At some point the shoe would be on the other foot as white spectators yelled at an errant black player for ­being stupid and not being able to play soccer properly.

Thus, many soccer fans found it very difficult to see beyond players’ colour and accept that hard tackles are part of the game.

I am happy to say that those days are no longer with us. We have made great progress in the sporting arena by being able to accept that hard tackles can be “innocent”.

Now we need that kind of open-mindedness in the political and business arena.We can learn from the picture that being political rivals need not make us enemies.

There are many good South Africans – black and white – of integrity who will not allow themselves to be used as “veils” or fronts for others.

With many of these people, what you see is what you get.

They are honest and sincere, and some of us can learn from them. We, as individuals, are much more than the colour of our skins.

Motau in an MP and the DA’s shadow minister of energy 

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