Populist politicking is on the rise, pursuing hatred to attract the masses

Andile Mngxitama of the Black First Land First movement uses the race card as his rallying point. Picture: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images
Andile Mngxitama of the Black First Land First movement uses the race card as his rallying point. Picture: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images

Many African politicians in our country use the race card to appeal to voters by placing all societal crises on “white” people; they often blame their weak policies on the “West” claiming that there is political interference by former colonisers.

Although this can be true to some an extent, we cannot wholly blame other nationalities.

We need to take accountability ourselves in order to be able to move forward as a nation.

Apartheid was a different type of colonialism based on the policy of segregation, a policy advocated by Afrikaner nationalists which was based on race.

It excluded the majority of African people from social, economic and political activities.

African people did not have suffrage. They were barred from entering many places including accessing quality education.

And Africans were enslaved in their own country.

The post-apartheid dispensation promised what was to be known as the Rainbow Nation, which was to bring people together after experiencing the most tragic humanitarian crises.

The government under the leadership of Nelson Mandela pursued an inclusive agenda as well as affirmative action as a mechanism to correct the past injustices, as the Constitution of South Africa proclaims in its preamble.

Adolf Hitler used the race card to win the support of his fellow Germans by claiming that the Jewish people were stealing the fortunes of the native Germans and that resulted into a humanitarian catastrophe – the Holocaust, where thousands and thousands of people were killed.

The majority of these people were Jews but there were, of course, other races that fell victim to the unfortunate political grandstanding.

The legal system of this country should be applauded for upholding the rights of minority groups.

If there is one thing we can be proud of it is the judicial system of this country because it has not yet been politicised and can act independently.

We have seen a few racists been dealt with by our courts – such as estate agent Vicky Momberg, who was punished for her racist behaviour.

It is unnecessary to incite violence while showing support to those you believe are oppressed or downtrodden.

Tony Ehrenreich, trade unionist, made war remarks in which he claimed that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was complicit in humanitarian crimes committed against people in Gaza.

He made a threat to members of that organisation by claiming that there would be a violent reaction by South Africans against them.

It is unnecessary to incite violence while showing support to those you believe are oppressed or downtrodden.

And incitement of war or violence is the last thing we need as South Africans – we are still healing the wounds of the humanitarian catastrophe which we have suffered from 1652 and we are not prepared for another crisis like that.

Politicians or unionists often use the race card to entice voters or followers to support them in their cause.

The poor, innocent masses fall prey to that trap because they are made to think that a certain group of people are the cause of all their immediate challenges.

Andile Mngxitama of the Black First Land First movement is always using the race card as his rallying point. There is absolutely nothing which his party is offering to South Africans.

He has brainwashed his followers into believing that South Africa’s immediate problem is white people.

This is something that our media, together with the Constitution, should address because we cannot have people perpetually dividing the citizens because of their greed.

It is true that African people are today dispossessed of their land but it does not mean there must be a hatred of other people – that we must condemn with the harshest terms it deserves.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema also often pulls the race card, says the author. Picture: Deaan Vivier/Beeld/Gallo Images

One of the most charismatic leaders of our time, Julius Malema, often uses the same race card tactic to woo support.

He recently talked about “cutting the throat of whiteness” when he was promising to remove Athol Trollip from his mayoral position in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape province.

His followers applauded him because they saw that as part of addressing their immediate challenges.

Malema as also took a swipe at the Jewish community when he claimed that they were training white people to be snipers.

Neither the South African Secret Service nor the incompetent National Intelligence Agency have denied or confirmed these allegations.

We are living in times where politics have shifted from their fundamental purpose of existing to being used to peddle divisions within our society.

It is not only South African politicians who are using race card to strengthen and grow support.

We have recently seen how the principal right-winger, Donald Trump, used his racism to win the support of the majority of Americans who voted in the last presidential elections in that country.

It is bad because we are seeing the oppression of minority groups in the United States, who face police brutality and the perpetrators are not even subjected to the rule of law.

Trump is supposed to use his powerful position to unite society but he is doing the opposite, and that is no good to the world given Washington’s position in geopolitics.

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is Pan Africanist Congress spokesperson. He writes in his personal capacity.

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July 2020

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