Taking The Government to UN On Racism Charge Is Immoral and Un-Patriotic

2015-05-22 20:58

The Cornell University Law School defines an act of affirming the under-privileged or the wronged as;A set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination between applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.  Applicants may be seeking admission to an educational program or looking for professional employment. “ I have always preferred this definition because it goes to the culmination of affirming or correcting, which is also about preventing the discrimination or the wrong done from ensuing or ever repeating in future.

The new DA leader, Mr Mmusi Maimane often in his speeches quotes Dr Martin Luther King Junior and indeed uses Dr King’s reference to his children often when describing his own beautiful family. Dr King as Mr Mandela is, is clearly an idol for Mr Mmusi Maimane.

In 1965, writer Alex Haley interviewed Dr King for a story that ran in Playboy Magazine. Haley asks Dr King about an employment program designed to help "20,000,000 Negroes." After expressing his approval for it, Dr King estimates that such a program would cost $50 billion then.

Haley then asks: "Do you feel it's fair to request a multibillion-dollar program of preferential treatment for the Negro, or for any other minority group?" Dr King responded in his usual confident and thoughtful manner: "I do indeed. Can any fair-minded citizen deny that the Negro has been deprived? Few people reflect that for two centuries the Negro was enslaved, and robbed of any wages--potential accrued wealth that would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America's wealth today could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation.”

Here you see Maimane's idol sharply disagreeable with him on affirmative policies.

American President Lyndon Johnson said about marginalization in 1965, "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair."

President Johnson's speech eloquently stated the rationale behind the now modern use of affirmative action programs to achieve equal opportunity, especially in the fields of employment, business and higher education.

In South Africa, we have the Employment Equity Act of 1998, the Skills Development Act of 1998, the Skills Development Levy Act of 1999, Preferential Policy Framework Act of 2000, the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 and others. These address access, fairness, development, opportunity and equity.

The emphasis on all these aforementioned laws is on opportunity and equality: affirmative action programs are meant to break down barriers, both visible and invisible, to level the playing field, and to make sure everyone is given an equal chance. The aim is for the equality and opportunity where, the previously disadvantaged groups; women, people with disabilities and other special groups still facing discrimination would be fairly represented in the nation's economy.

The debate over affirmative action demarcates a philosophical divide; on one hand are those who have moral authority - on the other hand, the immoral self-interest types. To me, taking the South African Government to the UN and other International Courts to be prosecuted for racial discrimination crimes is immoral, insulting to the pains of the past, it is unpatriotic and itself racist. It is a 'mercenaristic' an act.

One of the key proponents to this immoral behavior is business tycoon and DA member Mr Herman Mashaba who together with the racially formulated White workers trade union Solidarity have started a crusade against affirming those truly afflicted in education, economy and workplaces.

Mr Mashaba recently endorsed Mr Maimane in the leadership contest of the Democratic Alliance (DA), with Maimane using this endorsement to market himself broadly as having been endorsed by a business tycoon.

The division the DA Solidarity Union Alliance are calling for centers on a number of questions: is affirming the wronged discrimination itself or bias, to what extent discrimination and bias persist, to what extent affirmative action programs have been effective in providing otherwise opportunities in: commerce, education, employment, and business; and to what extent affirmative action programs unduly benefit Blacks (Africans, Indians and Coloreds) at the expense of the Whites (economically strong minority which had centuries of being affirmed by its own racist government).

In Solidarity Union’s response to the Periodic Reports of the Republic of South Africa to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under article 9, Solidarity Trade Union’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices writes heavily that South Africa today is a racism based country with racist laws aimed at short changing White people in particular. In their submission they cite Black Empowerment and Employment Equity as the key racial laws they suffer punitively under the democratic dispensation.

In his agreement with Solidarity, Mashaba penned a speech he delivered as input to this “trial” against the government. Mashaba’s speech was part reproduced for the Sunday Times of the 17 May 2015 - delivered on the 13 May 2015 titled: Constructing A Future Based On Race: ‘Racial Representivity Through Affirmative Action And Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment In South Africa’.

Maimane also, addressing the UN bemoaned Black business as funder for ANC and rubbished the need for black business to organize themselves.

In his speech, Mashaba formulate the now usual narrative about Nelson Mandela: he says; “…Sadly, 21 years down the line, we should be a mature democracy. Instead, the glow of the rainbow is beginning to diminish and Nelson Mandela’s great legacy is being dismantled by his own political party, the ANC.”

Mashaba becomes clearer at this part of his speech: stating;“The notion of empowering previously disadvantaged blacks is a noble ideal, noble but racist.”

Reading this, the apartheid police gifted bullet wound scar on my ankle began to pain (imaginary); I wondered how life would have been had Mashaba with his bags of money then, had organized to go to the UN to prosecute apartheid as he is now (perhaps he did not have connections to do so). It is so easy to join in with Solidarity today and condemn once more Blacks as was done before the day President FW de Klerk conferred full South African citizenship to Blacks of in this country in his 1990 famous speech.

Mashaba, Like Maimane show Mandela a lot of love and admiration, blame Mandela’s political party of betraying him almost each time they speak. As a person who was blessed and truly privileged to know Mandela in person, I often wonder which Mandela they talk of or about. Indeed Maimane has a Mandela portrait in his own office yet Mandela stood for everything Maimane (really) says or (really) stands for. All of Maimane’s views when deeply analyzed are diametrically opposed to those of Nelson Mandela. Mandela lived to fight such mindset and died totally opposed to such ideas Maimane stands for even their nuance.

The Employment Equity Act (EE) Mashaba has called racist is a Mandela horned policy. Likewise the other affirmative laws I have aforementioned, all but one were passed and signed by Mandela hand. If such laws are inherently racist, by definition the author, Mandela is racist according to the DA, Mashaba, Maimane and Solidarity Union (immoral) Alliance.

At a speech by President Mandela at a May Day rally in Kimberley, 1 May 1998, Mandela said: “…Organized workers are indispensable to our efforts to deracialise our economy. Whatever the final details of the Employment Equity Bill it is based on a fundamental principle. And that is, that we do need corrective action to put right the historical wrongs caused by discrimination and prejudice against Africans, Coloureds, Indians, women and the disabled.”

Mashaba has argued that laws that seek to affirm groups that were wronged and abused have exacerbated social progress digression and economic progress slow down. The groups he refers are the disabled, the women, youth and Blacks. Mashaba claims that affirmative laws have caused serious damage in whites and they suffer gross unemployment as a result.

How can affirming women, the majority of our country be digressing?

Mashaba continues in his UN speech, this time rather bizarrely, says after dropping out from University he intended to go on exile: “…Regrettably, I did not have the connections to facilitate my desire to undergo military training and become a freedom fighter.”

Mashaba may be advised that things did not go that way, the struggle was not a crony "connections" enterprise and importantly the first lessons if he had managed to be recruited would have been his ideological training which he seemingly requires to this day.

A liberation soldier without ideological training before gun training is an enemy of the struggles. Generally, underground recruiters recruited those who exhibited special talents and they never missed one. Inquisitive youths always found the way, even 10 year olds did. If you were willing and able but waited for "connections", it says a lot about ones priorities then which Mashaba explained later on in the speech.

Mashaba proudly tells a story of being happy to do business inside South Africa during apartheid whilst the Anti-Apartheid Movement was loosing heels campaigning for disinvestment: he says; “…Black Like Me, and also inviting a fellow white South African to join the business as an equal partner.”

The address to the UN by Mashaba, Maimane and Solidarity reminded me of the days when Archbishop Emeritus Tutu in 1980 addressed the UN against racial oppression of the majority. He had his detractors. It also reminded me of the extensive trips and campaigns where Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi campaigned for the opposite, funded by the White Apartheid Government. Similarities are uncanny. We have walked this walk before where some amongst us chose the Bantustan minority hegemonic ways. These two DA Blacks addressed the UN against Black emancipation and one of them even called laws that affirm Blacks “racist”.

Mashaba, a business tycoon, himself a huge beneficiary of affirmative action; Maimane one of the best fast tracked affirmative action poster personalities ever, like the US Supreme Court Judge Roberts in America all are against the same affirmation treatment advanced to their own. This is an immoral attitude.

Mashaba offers economic advise to government and fashions himself a business voice of the DA - business people have always held the idea that they can offer economic advise to governments. I always disagreed with this and recall Dr Mzukisi Qobo on social media questioning why I was talking my peers and self down.

Nobel Prize economist, Professor Paul Krugman in his paper said it best: He posed a question; “…doesn’t their (businessmen) success with money mean that they know how the economy really works?” He answered it; ” Actually, no. In fact, business leaders often give remarkably bad economic advice, especially in troubled times. And I think it’s important to understand why. The problem is businesses think company as countries…”

Mashaba claims that Whites in South Africa are “suffering” under the affirmative laws BEE and EE.

Lets test this against the Statistic South Africa, a Constitutional body, reported that:

In comparing data from the October 1994 household survey, and its 2014 quarterly labour force survey. It notes that between 1994 and 2014, employment rose by 6.2 million, but the labour force (those working and those seeking work) rose by 8.7 million, resulting in a net increase of 2.6 million in unemployed.

The unemployment rate increased from 22% to 25% over the past 20 years. Under the expanded definition of unemployment however, the number of unemployed rose by 3.5 million between 1994 and 2014, with the unemployment rate at 35%.

Possibly of most concern is the increase in the unemployment rate for black Africans with tertiary education. It more than doubled, from 8% to 19%,”. In 1994, 15% of black African workers occupied skilled jobs, increasing to only 18% in 2014. Over the same period the proportion of black African workers in semi-skilled occupations increased from 42% to 48%. Only 3% of white workers occupied low-skilled occupations in both 1994 and 2014.”

There has been no negative change in White low skilled unemployment numbers even though the white population has increased.

Mashaba and his alliance must be reminded that altogether, in 2015 total White unemployment in South Africa beats most European countries as it moves between 5-6%.

What causes them to lie?

This at the time of tough world economic conditions is not showing negativity. As for those who immigrated in the 1990’s on Mandela fears, there was no EE until 1998/9. The White immigrants did so on racist fears and not based on EE or BEE. In fact these same people have been coming back home in droves assisted by the likes of First National Bank.

Our Constitutional Court has repeatedly found these Affirmative laws not racist, yet the biggest proponents of constitutionalism are fighting hard against this, all the way to UN.

As for business, BEE has enabled for the country's market to be bigger and larger as more sophisticated consumers can only be increased from the Black groups. Besides this no more than R500 billion rand is in Black hands in an economy that has the JSE net market valued at R6 trillion, plus the Pension Funds cash at R4 trillion plus the cash in banks in trillions (estimate unavailable to writer), in a GDP of R5 trillion. Only some R500 billion is in Black peoples hands and they are at last 82% of country’s population. An immoral picture. That is what should be taken to the UN and prosecuted.

South Africa's GDP in 1994 was only R1.2 trillion today it is R5 trillion. Where is this backwardness Mashaba decries?

If these laws are racist, then it follows that what they aim to redress is pure and must be left untouched. If these “ bad ANC” laws are racist so is President Franklin Roosevelt who when he sought to avert the march by my favourite unionist and one of Dr. Molefi Kete Asante’s 100 Greatest African Americans, Mr A. Philip Randolph, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 requiring defense contractors to pledge nondiscrimination in employment in government-funded projects. This was an affirmative action order. Even today after 60 years of Affirmative laws in America, minority preferential procurement laws are still in existence so are employment and others. Still more is still to be done. Certainly this giant of Black liberation, Mr Randolph was not racist.

President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive Order 10925 and made reference to "affirmative action", which created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandates that projects financed with federal funds "take affirmative action" to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias. President Kennedy was not a racist.

I am duty bound to repeat the words from this eloquent speech to the graduating class at Howard University by President Johnson: "You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: 'now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe you have been completely fair . . . This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result."

Affirmative laws emanate from a commitment to the people at least since the formulation of the Freedom Charter in 1955 which stated: “The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be re- stored to the people; The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people.”

Nelson Mandela after his release from prison and during his very first public address to South African big business in May 1990 said of affirmative policies: “It is quite obvious that the economic power relations represented by the excessive concentration of power in a few white hands have to change ... one of South Africa’s imperatives is to end white domination in all its forms, to deracialise the exercise of economic power.”

If you revere Mandela, follow him, follow him strictly and not “ala carte” or else stop fronting, stop quoting Mandela, quote Mrs Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer and Tony Leon - those are your fore bearers.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act that was signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki in January 2004 is not “narrow” as Mashaba believes. The Act empowered the Minister of Trade and Industry to issue codes of good practice with respect to BEE. The aim of these codes was to clarify the conceptualization and measurement of B-BBEE, to outline the qualification criteria for procurement and other economic activities, to determine the weights attached to different elements of B-BBEE and to also clarify the status of the Industry Charters. These include employment of women, the disabled, and importantly empowering these groups with skills. How can this be racist? These laws empower the workers to take co-ownership of their workplaces. Communities where mines operate can now demand and point to a law that encourages their involvement in the business. How can this be hated and labelled racist?

For centuries, South Africa was based on an economic and political model where whites created laws and institutions in order to repress blacks and extract resources from them. The result is the most unequal society in the world. The extraction of sweat, land and other from black people created a gross misallocation of resources.

These were not just human, but also physical. Blacks had no access to land or capital and the Group Areas Act blocked Blacks from social progress and removed the incentives to invest in human capital, it was better to die. Bantu education removed their ability to accumulate useful human capital. Today the same Blacks are blamed for everything; apartheid is described as the “thing” of the past. It is NOT. Basic economic theory - there are huge productivity and growth benefits to be had from overcoming the misallocation of human and physical resources. This week’s OECD Report on Inequality also confirms this. Inequality hurts growth and its stupid. In 2000, Harvard University Professor Robert Barro found that inequality leads to lower growth in poor countries. With higher inequality comes significant lower impact on educational outcomes. This instructs that the ANC must pump more effort on affirming Blacks. Maimane and Mashaba must understands that overcoming decades of racial, class and gender oppression will not be ended simply by formal rights, by constitutional equality for all South Africans. It’s not “tabula rasa”. "Affirmative action is corrective action," Mandela said at the opening of Parliament in 1999. He said, "We shall not be discouraged by the sirens of self-interest that are being sounded in defense of privilege, and the insults that equate women, Africans, ... coloreds, and the disabled with a lowering of standards." Which Mandela do you know? Mandela further accused the Institute of Race Relations, the DA (DP) aligned think tank, of "scaremongering and defending white privilege” after they launched a campaign against the EE Act. Mandela continued in his hard hitting speech in 1999, “ Even the newspaper Business Day, voice of the white business elite, calls the legislation "an unobtrusive bill to address historical inequities and contemporary political pressure which, if not remedied, could lead to economic instability." It is very clear to whom these Mandela words apply to today. Mandela stood against the likes of Maimane and for that he was jailed.

Both Maimane and Mashaba say the only time Blacks should be affirmed in taking their rightful place in the economy is only if they create jobs (non unionized and low wage jobs). Transformation of the economy from its racist character is made by these two is giving punitive conditions to the very oppressed blacks. Maimane is so proud of this condition on Blacks that he erected himself a huge billboard in 2014 about it. He declared that Blacks must not share in the economy unless they create jobs. Clearly Maimane is “influx controlling” Blacks from the throngs of economic power. Blacks are to stay out of equity transactions? Why the extra-ordinary conditions imposed on Blacks? Do Whites in the DA get told they can only partake in economy only if they create jobs? No!

BEE was never a jobs or growth policy, there are other policies for that. Of course the patriotic thing to do is to maximize employment creation wherever the opportunity and this is always top of mind from Black business. To punish Blacks further is immoral.

Litigating a democratic government of racism at the UN is equal to litigating the majority of the people of South Africa as racist having voted for such political platform and laws. Litigating this democratic government of racism over laws signed by Mandela is litigating the Mandela memory itself of racism in a parliament that had Mrs Tambo, Mrs Sisulu, Archie Gumede, Ruth Momphati and Dorothy Nyembe etc.

I am embarrassed to think of what Reverend Jessie Jackson, Mr Harry Belafonte, Dr Leon Sullivan of the famous “UN Sullivan Principles Against Apartheid” and many more of our friends in Sweden (Scandinavia), Britain, Russia, Cuba etc. say when they hear that the campaigns they risked their all for are being prosecuted by some amongst us. What a disgrace. We owe these friends in need far more than this. Indeed someone is broken.

Bongani Mbindwane is on twitter @mbindwane and host’s “The Bridge” on ubunturadio.com, a political-economy talk show, Bongani is also a columnist with Daily Maverick. Bongani is a businessman and a mining economy analyst.

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