News24 readers respond to Mmusi Maimane's open letter to white South Africans

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Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and ex-Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and ex-Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Gallo Images, Papi Morake, file

News24 received a large number of letters in response to Mmusi Maimane's open letter to white South Africans which was published on Friday. You can read the letters below: 

Support for Maimane

I am a white male,  63 years of age, born in South Africa to parents who were also born in South Africa. I am one of three siblings. Somebody once said to me: "If you look back, you hurt your neck," which, for me, meant that you cannot change the past, you learn from the past and you look forward.

I support Maimane in everything he has said.

The great divide in our nation must be broken. I do not know how we do this without spending on infrastructure. Plans around megacities, with schools, universities, clinics etc, are a wonderful start, but it will take years. The bribery and corruption which are so rampant in our country, undermine any infrastructural programme to the extent that potential funders will not invest unless there is proper governance, accountability and delivery.

White people were and are more privileged than black people. If black students were able to walk a few kilometres home, had parents (helped by their grandparents) who helped them with their homework, and had a good meal, we would have a vibrant country. We lost that due to apartheid.

I am a trustee of two educational trusts.

The one in particular, run by CEO James Urdang, has done amazing work. He has received international awards for the work he has done.

So if a small group of people can create an environment where children can learn, be fed, play sports and achieve, then think about what we as South Africans can do together. Why is it so difficult? Maimane, I have great admiration for you and I think you have encapsulated our current situation so well.

I look forward to the work that will be done.

- Gary Poultney, Johannesburg

Good work

Mmusi Maimane, for the first time since democracy I read an article written by a politician who speaks like a true leader of all the citizens in South Africa.  Good work, sir!

- Jacky Tolmay

Ongoing project 

The recent letter written by Mmusi Maimane, published by News24, resonated strongly with many of my own thoughts, so I felt compelled to get in touch to say thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mmusi and team.

You will no doubt be ridiculed but it is necessary to keep pushing the same message through the ridicule so that it reaches enough people. 

It is so important for South Africans to understand that the project is never going to be finished and the responsibility will always be shared. If I want to live in a country where there is no need to worry about kids walking to the shop, then I should do what is in my power to contribute towards fixing the problem... and that problem, if you go down to its root, is poverty. 

The polarisation in our current politics, whether viewed through a red, yellow, green or blue lens, is what stops people from making a sacrifice. Everyone assumes they will be taken advantage of and that the sacrifice will be to their detriment.

In addition to this, people need to make sacrifices if they want to see change... and I don't mean sacrificing 10 minutes to type a complaint about the government on Facebook. They can't do everything and should never be expected to, even if functional.

- Shaun Nel

Concern for everyone

I read with interest the article by Mmusi Maimane….I wish to applaud the way he wrote this article and I do believe he writes with genuine concern as a South African citizen.  I too am a white citizen and want to see equality and change for the better. Education is the key and each and every one of us can do our bit on a daily basis, in a small way, and this will make a difference.

I thank Mmusi Maimane and I do hope other citizens will read and support his initiative.

- Patricia Lambrechts

No plan

I am in favour of his principle and have always been a fan of Mmusi Maimane. The problem, is how it will be achieved. No plan was given in his article.  I was very disappointed because I had hoped for better from him. To me, John Steenhuisen's hard-nosed realism is better.

Bear in mind that I grew up in Kenya as a farmer's boy among the Kikuyu and there is no doubt at all that "interracial" relations are a lot better. Give credit to the British government, the great Jomo Kenyatta and the people.  Bear in mind, too, that my ancestry is Danish from the happiest and least crime-ridden country in the world. Why? Socialist policies moderated by financial common sense (no isms, except pragmatism) and a belief, taken in with mother's milk, that everyone has equal opportunity and rights and the duty to use them.

- JS Cridland, Rondebosch

Stop blaming white people

I have always had a lot of respect for you, Mr Maimane, and I appreciate and agree with many of your thoughts.

I grew up on a missionary station near Mmthata and learnt from a young age to respect and love all people that cross my road as Jesus loves all people He created. I have no hate in my heart towards anyone. I look at people through a lens of absolutely no racism. 

I note that you are blaming white people for white economy. That white economy you are talking about is the top 4% of the white population in this country. Your reference to salaries earned by whites compared to blacks also needs recalculating. 

You don't need a degree to see and to realise that the 40% unemployed in the country was caused mainly by corruption and stealing and not by anything else. 

All I actually want to say is today you have lost my vote.

Twenty-six years on and black people are suffering much more today than they did before and it's still the white man's fault.

I agree with many things you said. We need each other and we can make it work but for crying out loud, stop blaming the white man. 

- Frans Strijdom.

Bridge Builders 

It is all very well to urge SA citizens to be bridge builders. Why don't you build bridges with like-minded political entities, eg Herman Mashaba, the ACDP, etc?

Philip Wassung, Hermanus

Why is Maimane speaking for white people? 

I do not ask that you publish this because I know that you publish only articles that suit your hidden or favoured agenda, keeping sober discussion away. For many of us who also read News24, you do not allow facts to change the way you made up your mind.

However, someone should speak up against Maimane for the drivel he writes. I never thought his delusion and drivel would outshine that of Melanie Verwoerd and John Mattison but here it is, staring us in the face and angering us.

I am speaking here on behalf of white people who have accepted the diversity of this nation and respects the views and living space of all, quite different from the position of News24.

How can Maimane speak to or for white people when his improvised ANC agenda chased them away from the DA in droves and got him fired? When will he ever learn or accept any responsibility for his words and deeds?

When I tried some years ago to make an appointment with him while he was leader of the DA to try and get some sense into his actions, I was too lowly a voter of the DA for him to even consider that. He excused himself with the words that he was too busy. How can any prospective voter ever believe in his new stillborn party.

One South Africa, in terms of his delusional open letter, can never succeed. We became a rainbow nation when the political prism broke the rays of white light into the wonderful colours of the rainbow.

He doesn't have, hasn't had, and will never have any idea of any policy that can remotely resemble a solution to our fragmented needs.

He is going nowhere slowly. Why he has been afforded the opportunity to irritate us with his numerous meaningless, non-sensical and superficial humanistic speak on News24, beats my understanding.

Is he a black man standing up for the rights of white people? He was never able to do so and will never be able to do so.

Is he trying to chastise white people for the "wrong" that they are said to think? He failed miserably in the DA for that.

Is he standing up against corruption of politicians? He failed miserably with that in the DA.

Is he trying to solve some social, sociological, human resources or political issues? He has never solved one.

He just irritates white and black people, steering his bobbing canoe which is being pushed around by the wind into untenable positions of his delusion.

- PK Odendaal

*Some of the letters have been edited for brevity. 

**If you want to share your view send your letter or article to with your name and town or province. You are welcome to also send a profile picture. We encourage a diversity of voices and views in our readers' submissions and reserve the right not to publish any and all submissions received.

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