Fear engulfs the white population

2009-05-09 00:00

AS South Africa prepares for the third democratically-elected president since 1994, I cannot help but notice the fear and uncertainty that has engulfed some sections of this country, especially within the white population.

It reminds me of how many people started to make arrangements to take the next flight to countries that had, directly or indirectly, colonised our republic, “when the blacks take over” and how they would undo a lot of the good that was done by the previous regimes, however illegitimate. Mind you, these were darkies who had never run a Chicken Licken outlet, let alone a country. The closest they had got to managing an institution was running a shebeen or organising violent strikes.

By nature, people are resistant to change and they find it very unpleasant to move out of their comfort zones because, largely, they do not know what to expect and it is highly likely that they will have to learn some new habits, in the process of unlearning old habits.

The same degree of uncertainty and fear has greeted the Jacob Zuma presidency, long before he was sworn in.

Long before he was even elected, the Democratic Alliance’s Helen Zille instituted aggressive campaigns to “Stop Jacob Zuma”, albeit unsuccessfully. If I did not know better, I would have thought that this Zuma whom some citizens were trying to stop was an alien who was trying to take over the country.

Having looked at some of Zapiro’s caricatures of Zuma, I would have thought that he is an alien firefighter because of the shower that hangs over his head, or that he is obsessed with cleanliness. Or he is too hot and has to cool himself down when the need arises.

This fear that has been planted in the minds of many gullible citizens is unfounded and can be likened to the fear that people have of death; a fear of something we know little or nothing about but focus so much on.

Perhaps those who are scared can tell the rest of us what it is that they are afraid of. What is it that drives people to go as far as attacking individuals as opposed to attacking the policies of the political parties concerned? Those not familiar with this country’s politics would have thought we are able to elect a president directly, which is not the case.

Zuma is yet to issue his first memo, dance his way to the Union Building, take his maiden flight as president or have his first meal as president of this country, yet so much has been said about him and he has been judged before he has made his first move. Like former minister Pik Botha said, let us give him a chance and then judge him later, based on what he has done or not done.

Like the pastor who prayed at U.S. president Barack Obama’s inauguration said, perhaps we need to go to a place where “black will not go back” and where “white is not always right”.

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