Guest Column

Who are you to audit my blackness?

2018-02-25 06:05


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We enter politics knowing that what we do and say will be scrutinised. It is part and parcel of being involved in an area of work that by its nature is public. That said, the scrutiny sadly often turns into insults, especially when it comes from those who disagree with you or have a problem with the political choices you make, despite the Constitution protecting those choices.

To personalise this and bring you closer to my thought process, it is worth mentioning that I am a member of the DA and I am a black person. This seemingly attracts the attention of our political opponents, who see it as their revolutionary duty to label me and other black DA members as "house niggers", "sellouts"', "puppets", "coconuts", "askaris" and any other imaginable insult.

These degrading, dangerous and unwarranted expletives do not arise because I have done harm to my country, fellow citizens or black people. They simply arise because there is a clique of people, aided and abetted by the ANC, who believe blackness is something that can and should be audited. Self-appointed auditors of blackness believe that black people should walk, talk and conduct themselves in a way which is dictated by fictitious criteria.

"Shame upon those who do not conform to the ‘accepted standard of blackness'," they exclaim.

It takes a lot to personally offend me, so these insults, when directed at me, do little to shake me. But there is a conversation that needs to be had about how we engage with those who we disagree with politically. Our disagreement need not be toxic or offensive.

The tragic irony of the degrading insults directed at black DA members is that they often come from the highest levels of the ANC. The same ANC that deployed its members to the front lines of the war against a racist, murderous and amoral apartheid regime, which sought to dictate and demean the identity of black people.

If we are to move forward as a country, the discussion needs to mature and evolve by taking us to a place where we are not asking how many black or white people attend DA marches, but what policies the DA has in place and whether it is positively contributing to the lives of the poor, whose majority are black people.

The DA governs more than 16 million citizens in more than 30 municipalities, including four metros across South Africa, with access to a budget of R139.5 billion. Surely this is something that our opponents should be targeting in their critique of what we do or do not do. The Western Cape is home to many of the country’s most successful land reform projects, despite some saying that it cannot be done within the current constitutional framework.

The DA has long put forward costed proposals to cut the Cabinet to 15 ministries, which could save the people of South Africa close to R5 billion annually. We have advanced economic policies, which will reignite sustained economic activity and create much needed jobs. The DA has put forward a health plan that is a “credible and workable option that seeks to ensure that no person is denied quality healthcare because they are poor”. Let’s debate this as an alternative to the national health insurance system.

The DA has plans to deal with state-owned companies and education, but the prevailing and often false narrative peddled by our opponents is what we are forced to debate and distracts the conversation. Ultimately, we have an arsenal of policy proposals and practical examples of how we govern.

While race remains an important factor in our country’s sociopolitical environment, the manner in which it is used is cheap and counterproductive – both in the political and media space.

How I choose to be black and the choices I make, especially when it does you and society no harm, will not be subjected to discriminatory and flimsy audits that seek to drive a particular narrative about black people who make different choices.

I refuse to be subjected to a modern-day pencil test in a democratic South Africa that many died for so I can be whoever I want to be and associate with whoever I choose. Those who claim to love and subscribe to the Constitution should defend this, even if they do not vote DA.

- Seabe is director of communications for the DA.


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