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Chidi Matome
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De Klerk hails 20 years of democracy - reply

29 April 2014, 22:00

After reading an article titled “De Klerk hails 20 years of democracy, scolds ANC”, one searched for the original version of same on the net and came across it titled “The New South Africa at 20: The Need for Real Transformation.

In this work note that one is concerned with the attack on the policies meant to promote equality. It is a responsibility all of us have, to promote the constitution of the RSA and to ensure that we protect the gains we have had and to promote the encouragement of more work to advance achievement of further gains.

The principle of equality does not belong to anyone. The law of nature demands it. Logic demands it. The Constitution requires it. It does not belong to the African National Congress, (the “ruling party”).    

In his article, Mr De Klerk attempts to state some of the successes of the ruling party. Immediately after the success stories, he goes on to state failures.

His first criticism is failure to provide decent education.

Well, we need not say much in this regard. Certainly the 30% story is a setback. Why we came to this point one does not know. Certainly, with time, we will change that. The strongest area on which society has to work together is education. During the apartheid era, learners made efforts on their own. Communities came in. To be educated, on its own, then was a great achievement on its own. A university graduate was more of a success story. Today values have changed. Success is money, for instance.

In trying to address educational challenges, we need also to understand that children born into poor families today, regardless of the number of years into democracy, would not have the same challenges as those born into well-to-do families.

Children whose parents benefited from the apartheid legacy have inherited the benefits of apartheid. The legacy of apartheid will continue to work in favour of and benefit some sections of society than some would want us to believe.

The dynamics above and much more, such as lack of space for parenting as a result of the structure of the economy, where parents are forced not to stay with their children and poor level of literacy and education should be taken into account when we attempt to solve educational issues.

I will agree that more focus needs to be had on matters education. But merely blame this issue on government will not solve the problem. It therefore calls on us to focus our efforts on long term objectives, than we have, thus far. Such focus would include setting higher standards in education. In the meantime, we need to have working solutions.

The point driven home is that, though we went wrong in reducing the standards, good indications are there such as focusing our attention on FETs and Colleges, institutions which were not given attention in the passes. At some point our children need to be subjected to serious training and learning activities, than it is now.   

Next and immediately below one deals with racial discrimination, as espoused by Mr De Klerk.

Racial discrimination

Mr De Klerk says “… the ideology of demographic representivity is once again creating a situation where South Africans are judged on the colour of their skin and not on the content of their character. South Africa is once again becoming one of the most racially prescriptive societies in the world.” He blames this on affirmative action and the Black Economic Empowerment. Well Affirmative Action is part of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment or Black Economic Empowerment. To read them separately would not make any sense.

With due respect to Mr De Klerk, one finds his analysis not reflecting the truth. “Not reflecting the truth” is the best phrase one could find. One admits that those from political angles may have stronger phrases.

An example may do to show why one concludes as above. If in a family for instance we have to create or attempt to create equality and we find that one child, 12 years let us agree, has 8 tennis balls and the other, also 12 years, has only 2 tennis balls, what do we do? May I leave that for you! In answering that, pause for a minute and read the next few paragraph.

Mr De klerk is said to be a lawyer. In the law of succession, there is a principle called “Collation”. One is confident that Mr De Klerk knows this principle. The principle is that in some instances descendants of a deceased person (children of a dead person) who benefitted earlier from the deceased’s assets should no longer benefit after his death or if they benefit, they should not benefit in the same way as those who may not have benefited.

Example, Mr A acquired a vehicle worth R80 000.00 from his father, when father still alive. Mr B did not acquire anything.

After father’s death, children share equally, as a principle.

However, an application of collation would mean that, if father’s assets from which children must share are worth R90 000.00 only, then we allocate R80 000.00 first to Mr B. After allocation of R80 000.00 to B, the two children, A and B, are deemed to be equal. Once they are equal, it therefore means that from the remaining R10 000.00, they will each get R5 000.00.

It therefore means that in actual fact Mr A got R5 000.00 after death of his father, whilst B got R85 000.00. Narrow principle of fairness applied, it could be said that Mr A and B benefited equally. Broadly it could be said that A benefited more that B because at the time when A benefited, the vehicle may have been worth R80 000.00, whilst after that A had an opportunity to utilize the vehicle to empower him economically. If wise, A, by the time B benefits, would have built his wealth/estate to an increased value than R80 000.00.     

The principle of collation, like the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, is based on the law of logic, a science issue. In balancing a scale we put more bricks on the side that has few, than the one that has many. That is why courts have agreed with the constitution, mostly.

On the basis of the law as it stands, there is no such thing as racial discrimination. It may be that in applying the principle of equality and in implementing strategies more emphasis was made on the few, than the majority, something that we need to correct.

The empowerment policies are focused on designated groups, the previously disadvantaged. Historically, Africans were the most disadvantaged than any other racial group. Women, as well, were also, across the board, disadvantaged. Women of different racial groups were not similarly disadvantaged.

Given the above, a male person who is not preferred than a female person would not find comfort is such situation, in the same way as Mr A, in the case of application of the principle of collation would not be happy. So it is not surprising that Mr De Klerk has taken the position he has taken, from the angle of his racial group. What may be concerning is that he is exposed to law and was part of negotiations at CODESA and should defend the Constitution.        

Other issues

Mr De Klerk is quoted as saying "People are appointed to key posts -- not because of their qualifications, experience and impartiality as required by the constitution - but because of their political connections." This is apparently labelled cadre deployment. Whatever we call it, it is only wise for those in leadership to appoint those who would promote constitutional values.

In this sense, one would not, for instance, appoint a person like Mr De Klerk, in our current society, to serve in any state institution, simply because Mr De Klerk justifies apartheid and does not promote constitutional values. He also lacks an understanding required to transform society.

In any given situation it is never advisable to appoint a person who does not understand the transformational agenda enshrined in the Constitution of the RSA. It is, however, correct that political connection should not be a prime factor. Take for example the issue of the Deputy Minister of the Department of Higher Education. One thinks that the ruling party needs to correct some of the mistakes it has committed. The policies are intact.

It is certainly true that we do not need corruption and the political leadership needs not protect anyone involved in corruption. Mr De Klerk needs to be advised that he does not have a moral standing to criticize “our government”. One says “our government” because an attack to the ruling party should be seen in its broader context, the context of which is that others are focused at attacking anything done by Africans (Blacks, as some call us).

So we should protect ourselves against those who seek to project us, as Africans, as people incapable of doing anything right. Imagine the insult on the Chief Justice and the Office of the Chief Justice when a complaint was laid against him. Those against the transformation of society always wait for opportunities to attack us. Unfortunately we give them weapons to attack us, with how we conduct ourselves. For example the issues of NPA such as the firing of Mr Pikoli, the replacement of Mr Pikoli are raised by Mr De Klerk.       

Though Mr De Klerk may be correct in some of the things he says, the challenge is that he seeks to achieve what we do not agree with and what is not agreeable to anyone who has the best interest of this country at heart. He seeks to tell a story that we are creating a society based on racial discrimination.  

It appears that Mr De Klerk said it was now an "unacceptable fact" that South Africa is a more unequal society than it was in 1994. Whilst it is not acceptable for SA to be an unequal society, there is a historical context to that. Perhaps I need to state my perspective on this issue. The manner in which government implemented empowerment policies is certainly not satisfactory. One is in Limpopo and we witness such in many ways, but to say that the policies are wrong is not true.

If it were to be said that the policies are not adequate, it may be that they are not as radical as they need to be to accelerate transformation.  

The view one takes, given the above, is that “Although the word “transformation” does not appear in the Constitution there can be no doubt that it is a transformational document. It is permeated with the requirement to move society from where it found itself in 1996 to the vision set out in its founding values.”, as Mr De Klerk said. In ensuring that we advance the constitution we need to promote the values enshrined in its constitution such as

Ø  Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms;

Ø  Non–racialism and non–sexism;

Ø  Supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law;

As a matter of conclusion, we need to transform society drastically. The views by Mr De Klerk reflect those of other gate keepers of transformation. We should not accept that. Those of us outside politics need to contribute to such discourses as well.

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