The transcendent Mmusi Maimane just doesn't get it

2017-02-15 15:46

In his State of the Nation debate, DA Leader Mmusi Maimane went deeper in his oratory skills horned as a youth pastor before joining politics in 2010, “The weight of history lies upon all of us. We can choose to remain trapped in it or we can choose to transcend it.”

Echoing the Mamphele Ramphele’s Agang SA doctrine, Maimane invoked Ramphele's plea to South Africans, in particular black South Africans to transcend race, transcend the injustices that ended some twenty years ago and simply move on and construct and tabula-rasa system where statistics should not mentioned the race of the people but their nationality – South African. A, "apartheid is over get over it" narrative that does not see post apartheid apartheid as a thing.

Maimane zeroed in on the Washington style politics made popular by the ascendance of new US President Donald Trump. Maine used terms like “alternative facts” in describing South African president Jacob Zuma assessment of the State of the Nation. Zuma relied heavily on the independent Statistics South Africa for data showing that Africans who comprise some eighty five percent of the population remain horrifyingly poor and that the system is still structurally constructed against them.

By labelling the statistics “alternative facts”, Maimane implies it is not true that blacks remain oppressed, that they earn six times less than their white counterparts who comprise some eight percent of the population and that blacks have given more to country and received nothing back but disdain from whites.

There are categories of black people in South Africa. There are Africans who include aboriginal Khoi and San, mix race blacks also referred to as Coloreds and Asians mainly from Indian decent and a small Malay and Chinese community.

Of these blacks, the Indian community of South Africa has readily lost the political categorization to be “black” due to their wealth, mobility, advancement and social progress and almost ninety percent of the Indian community is middle or upper middle class. Indians have "transcended". Historically, Indians were treated better by the apartheid regime and allowed many rights Africans and Coloureds did not have. These included rights to buy and own land including better education and allocation of supreme land near economic modes as we see in Durban in particular.

Coloured South Africans, although also higher in apartheid hierarchy compared to Africans, they also continue to be subjected to lives in labour townships and low cost housing flats engineered by apartheid.

Historically, Indian South Africans have always voted for the DA, its parent party the DP. Mr Rajbansi’s Minority Front got the second most votes from Indians followed by the IFP and the ANC.

The Khoi and San, as Africans were treated the worst and can be labelled an endangered people.

Within black people there is also classism and colourism. The darker skin toned you are the worst the treatment from fellow citizens even within your own race.

Black division has not changed much since apartheid except that there is now the Transcendent Black class Maimane is urging his fellow blacks to emulate.

Transcendent blacks are those like Maimane who may have family members in the white race or have high stakes businesses with Whites, they dine and live within white communities, go to white churches and their children go to white majority schools - the only blacks in the class. They have transcended. These blacks have wealth, power and mobility. Importantly they do not understand their fellow blacks who are in the majority.

We also have the majority mainstream blacks who are Twitter users or middle class type and the Abandoned blacks spread throughout the land from our labour townships like Soweto, Mitchells Plain, Langa, Zwelitsha, Bonteheuvel, Kwa-Mashu to Sobantu, the rural folk and the typical shack dwellings near major cities.

Transcendent Maimane now urges that the mainstream and abandoned blacks simply transcend, to him its all in the mind - black oppression is imagined or some psychological matter to simply be "transcended". How does one transcend from a shack, a traditional township house and a closed economy? How does one transcend when they live and work under a racist farmer who pay slave wages and threaten security of dwelling? You can not transcend poverty - its not in the mind, it is real.

What will make South Africans to transcend is not Maimane’s sweet words but direct economic revolution in South Africa now. Maimane does not get it that the first people of this land can not come second for another day.

Bo Mbindwane is on Twitter: @mbindwane

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