“Transformation”, Provocation and Confrontation: Insurrection Looms

2015-09-30 08:41

When South Africa’s new dispensation was negotiated in the early nineties, respect for minority rights – be they language, cultural, institutional or mother tongue education entitlements – were enshrined in our constitution - with 11 languages recognized as “official”. The nation’s leaders all endorsed the plurality of the “Rainbow Nation” in a show of unity from diversity and stressed the importance of respecting the nation’s diverse cultures. The future seemed to hold promise.

But we have done a U turn - and it started immediately the new dispensation took root. Once the dust had settled, distortions were mandated in the way the nation was to function.

They included affirmative action and BEE (both benefitting minority, low productivity interests at the expense of those offering high productivity and growth) and economic and labour market perversions that diminished free choice and caused unemployment and hardship.

The age of burgeoning grant recipient queues had dawned.

Other perversions included a state education system that crumbled in the face of trade union coercion to promote the interests of incompetent teachers above those of the youth.

But there were others beside.

They included a lexicon of distortionary political terms and ANC franchised mantras, such as “equality” and “transformation”, the pursuit of which carries a huge cost to society and the economy. That is because the negative long term effects of skewing a society’s productive and human resources through political coercion are hugely negative – as the Iron Curtain and other 20th century socio-political experiments of modern history have proved.

Faced with societal decay at many levels, these terms are now used to mobilize dysfunctional and disaffected elements that have fallen prey to the failed official policies of the ruling party. Because of a lack of deductive capacity, they are increasingly invoked to attract attention to every day grievances and “popularized” to a point where perspective has been abandoned and respect lost for sustainable values.

In the process, the boundaries between the rights of legitimate interest groups and the dubious demands of fringe movements – fanned by ANC led populism - have become blurred. And an anarchic trajectory threatens to make things worse.

Agents provocateur and their acolytes now mark out their turf on the nation’s campuses, insulting and demeaning the cultures, traditions and intellectual foundations of minorities who, it must be said, largely built the nation on the strength of these institutions, and their values and work ethic: South Africa did not become the leading African economy (up to +- 10 years ago, anyway), by accident and the nation’s erstwhile successes were largely on account of the human capital cultivated and skills built at seats of higher learning.

Our tertiary education institutions played a key role in South Africa’s global leadership in mining, medicine, banking, agriculture, and branches of industry and commerce. Indeed, without such influences, there would be little to show in the way of modern living standards, intellectual insights and economic development in sub Saharan Africa.

Universities – typically crucibles of excellence and groundbreaking research at the cutting edge of Man’s advancement – have played a key role.

For that very reason these institutions need to be free of pressures that undermine their ethos, and essential character and purpose – including the language and cultural predisposition that drives their achievements.

Stellenbosch has always been an Afrikaans university. Its culture and values are profoundly Afrikaans, although it has broadened its appeal in recent years. So to campaign for another language (English) to be made its default medium is beyond unreasonable. It is arrogant, provocative and insulting.

Given the approach of those protesting "their plight” (enrolling at an Afrikaans speaking university and waiting until late in the academic year!), further trouble is likely. And when that happens, retribution is possible in ways not envisaged by or encouraged in the spirit of our constitution.

“Transformation” proponents abuse the intelligence of the university and its wider community and agents provocateur will only have themselves, the ANC establishment and its progeny (the EFF, for example) to blame when tempers run ever higher and things get out of hand. That serious violence could result is obvious.

A measure of blood has already been spilled in campus scuffles and it would not surprise me to see that turn into open conflagration.

Just How Far Have We Fallen?

It sometimes seems to me that we are drifting ever further into a state of low intensity civil war as ANC proxies, their associates and its EFF progeny become ever more truculent and removed from reality.

This trend has not gone unnoticed internationally.

The Economist magazine (September 5th- 11th) comments on South Africa’s foreign policy as being “Clueless and Immoral” quoting from a paper drafted by ANC ruling party officials. The paper's contents are illuminating: it rues the fall of the Berlin Wall; "blames" the liberation of Eastern Europe on the West (“a triumph of Western Imperialism”) and charges Washington as being responsible for the pro democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The Economist also points to Mandela’s love affair with Muammar Qaddafi; the propping up of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the shielding of war criminal Omar al-Bashir by Zuma and his cronies and the denial of a visa for the Dalai Lama.

A Rainbow Nation? I hardly think so.

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