Guest Column

Mcebo Dlamini: Lessons on black consciousness from Mmusi Maimane

2019-10-30 15:11
Mmusi Maimane leads a protest against the capture of Treasury by the ANC and the Guptas from in Pretoria, on July 20, 2017. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Mmusi Maimane leads a protest against the capture of Treasury by the ANC and the Guptas from in Pretoria, on July 20, 2017. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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How do we understand what has happened to Mmusi Maimane from a black consciousness perspective? If we posit that he was a sell-out because he was an active agent in running the affairs of white people, then who is not, asks Mcebo Dlamini.

Mmusi Maimane was fired from the Democratic Alliance (DA). Well, formally he resigned just like Lindiwe Mazibuko did a few years ago. His resignation elicited a lot of debate on social media with some feeling pity for Maimane and others saying he got what he deserved.

Maimane's resignation follows the resignation of Herman Mashaba who was the DA mayor of Johannesburg. A number of people believe that there is a purge of black people in the party which is very much plausible. Others think that Maimane is a sell-out and no one should sympathise with him because for years he was an agent of a white party. This went so far that there was even an article published on the Black Opinion Online Magazine which stated that "Mmusi Maimane is not a black person".

So how do we deal or perhaps understand what has happened to Maimane from a black consciousness perspective? I am not necessarily interested in the technicalities and administrative processes that were in place regarding the "resignation".

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As a country that comes from colonisation and apartheid there is much to be done to heal the scars that we inherited from these oppressive systems of government. Most important of these scars is the problem of self-hate which was the cornerstone of apartheid. It made us believe that we are subordinate and we are not worthy.

All black people in South Africa were affected by this whether directly or indirectly. This means that there is a certain level of caution we must exercise when we cast aspersions and say things such as "Mmusi is not black" or "Mmusi is a sell-out". It might be true but who is not a sellout?

If we posit that Maimane was a sell-out because he was an active agent in running the affairs of white people, then who is not? Is it not true that many of us graduate, go work in corporate firms in Sandton where we work for white companies? Do we not take our hard earned money to shop in retail stores that make super profits for white owners who continue to exploit black workers?

But this does not mean that black people who deliberately go against the agenda of black liberation ought to be vindicated just because they have the same skin colour as us. Here Steve Biko and Malcom X help us in the categorisation of people who are comfortable with being subservient to the master as long as they get the crumbs of the master's bread.

These are the people who are gatekeepers and are willing to defend their master even at the expense of their own people. They should without a doubt be exposed and crushed in order for us to attain the liberation that we want.

I am in no way suggesting that Maimane must be hugged after he has, for years, worked at the service of a party that insists on building a new South Africa without dealing with the problems of the past.

But what this tells us is that if we serve whites with the hope that they desire integration then we are in for disappointment. The concept of the rainbow nation is important to them in so far as they are the ones who benefit. Perhaps what Prof Somadoda Fikeni says of the DA is true: that they microwave cook young leaders and when they are ripe, fatten them and send them straight to the abattoir to be slaughtered. We saw it with Mazibuko and it is replaying itself with Maimane.

More important to learn though is the truth that as blacks we have been insisting on being one with people who have clearly demonstrated that they have no interest in this. In the same way they used black labour during apartheid they are continuing to use black talent only for their own enrichment and benefit.

White people seem not to care much about whether you are a black that understands what syllables are or whether you are a black pushing rubbish across Mandela Bridge. What is clear is that they seem to treat us in the same way. The lesson to be learnt is that we need to unite at all times, form our own organisations and institutions. For if we always seek to be included by them our position will always remain precarious.

- Dlamini is a former chairperson of the Wits SRC. 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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