It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
Julius Malema addresses the media outside the home of the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando West. (Veli Nhlapo, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
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The problem in South Africa today is the race question. We constantly read in the media about incidents that prove racism in South Africa still exist. These incidents have become so prevalent that they can no longer be seen as just isolated incidents – they are part of the fabric of our society. That is to say, the manner in which South Africa is structured is along racial lines. There is a minority group that is white that controls the economy, and because it controls the economy it is able to control politics and other institutions in society. This reality invites us to admit that in 1994 the technology of apartheid simply morphed and shifted. It did not end.
The hierarchies, gestures and methods that were used during apartheid to silence and intimidate black people still exist. Because white people are still in control, any tempering with their sensitivity and feelings invites serious consequences.
The land debate is an example of this. The issue of land expropriation without compensation came back to the fore after the ANC national conference took a resolution to make it government policy.
Many political parties have supported this policy position and the EFF's Julius Malema has been extremely vocal about his party's unwavering support for this resolution. The EFF has even offered to give the ANC its 6% voting power in Parliament so that the Constitution can be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation. As expected white people, who still control most of the land in South Africa, are not happy about this. They have since gotten up to all types of antics to demonstrate how uncomfortable the discourse of land expropriation makes them. These antics range from asking foreign countries to intervene, to threatening to leave South Africa.
Recently AfriForum has taken the decision to privately prosecute Malema on charges of corruption. AfriForum, a civil society group that mostly defends the interests of white people, demanded that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) reinstate the corruption charges against Malema. This simply demonstrates the arrogance of AfriForum, that thinks it can dictate or blackmail the state on who to prosecute or not.
This is not surprising. In South Africa privately-owned institutions, which are most utilised by white people, have been given reverence over public institutions. This can be seen in the private schooling system, the private health sector and the private sector of the economy, all of which have arbitrarily acquired the status of being more efficient than the public sector which is run and used by blacks. It reinforces the racist idea that blacks are incompetent (inferior) and whites are superior.
There have been, of course, different debates concerning AfriForum's decision to privately prosecute Malema. Some people strongly believe that it is inconsequential who prosecutes him. If he is suspected and there is a strong enough case against him he must face the might of the law. Others argue that if we say it is wrong to prosecute Malema then it would be contradictory to say Jacob Zuma must be prosecuted.
In other words, it would be contradictory to say "hands off Juju" and then say "Zuma must go". There is some truth to this because there is something analogous about the two cases.
Despite the insignificant detail that Malema will be prosecuted privately and Zuma by the NPA, the truth is that people who are supporting both these prosecutions are mostly white people. The "Zuma must go" campaign was saturated with white people and white civil organisations, including AfriForum, which is now charging Malema.
I am in no way attempting to suggest that black people who are corrupt must not be held accountable by virtue of them being black. This is primarily because when they were looting it was not to the collective benefit of black people. It was to enrich themselves individually. They should therefore face the consequences of their criminal acts. But it is important for us to see when the trope of corruption is raised in order to divert attention from other matters, in this case the issue of land. Corruption must not only be condemned when it has to do with black leaders. White people are also not immune to being corrupt. Whenever they are corrupt it is always euphemised with words like "collusion" and "price fixing" and is never condemned with as much vigour as when blacks are accused of corruption.
For me there is an important lesson to be learnt here. It is that white people are not willing to give up their privilege for the greater good of the country. They insist on holding on to what they unduly gained even when it continues to be at the expense of black people.
The genius of Steve Biko was that he was able to understand that, "black man, you are on your own". It means that there is no mutually beneficial solidarity that black people can have with white people. It requires us to unite as black people and be able to defend and discern when there are plots to divide us. Historically, political parties have fragmented black voices and therefore we must learn from the lessons of history. We must use the colour of our skin to unite with a tenacity that will shock and scare whoever is trying to oppress us.
- Dlamini is a former Wits SRC President and student activist. He writes in his personal capacity.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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