Oh, the tiresome color issue…

What exactly EFF leader Julius Malema hopes or foresees the final outcome will be of the fierce and unabated racially charged attacks he launches from each and every possible soapbox and platform, is not clear. But it (the onslaught) pretty much looks and sounds at very least like a multi-pronged effort to dispirit, disperse, discourage, dishevel, dishearten and ultimately dispense of, any pale (enough) colored human who calls South Africa home. Come on! After all the drills and dramas and deep waters and crunches we’ve been through as a country: how can the color of a skin still be an issue?

Just how unwise and short-sighted this reckless endeavor is in the bigger scheme of things, he obviously does not realize. He is definitely not counting the cost of driving farmers, investors, employers and professionals to eventually abandon what may soon become a sinking ship. I suspect he is plain and simply poorly informed. Oh! And shamefully outdated, whilst most likely confident in his ignorance that he is actually an ahead-of-his-time trendsetter: hurtling ahead of the pack who are still doggedly flogging the long-dead horse of being previously disadvantaged after almost a quarter of a century of freedom and democracy.

Has he even thought of the dire consequences of racial intolerance that plays out daily to the tune he calls, with vitally productive South African farmers simply calling it a day, their farms often going to rack and ruin because they are no longer able to bear the brunt? Or because in many, many cases they are not even alive anymore after being mowed down in cold blood or butchered apart out of what mostly appears to be undiluted scorn and contempt – for as little as a cell phone?

Ironic victims

Does it not cross his mind that the very people whose rescue he claims to be coming to, are the ones who suffer most when white employers who are constantly at the receiving end of incessant hate speech come to realize they can no longer afford to risk their own safety amidst the daily threats that gain momentum and reverberate across the country, explicitly directed at all who are cursed with white skins?

The whites whom you claim you have no time for, Mr Malema, are the ones who are here because they are willing and determined to see things through, shoulder to shoulder with other South Africans of whatever color or creed. They are the ones who heartily and devotedly sing ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ along with you and who stand united with fellow South Africans under the colorful flag that we all call our own. They are proud to vote in democratic elections. They are eager to pull their weight in a dispensation that is fair and just for all.

Some lucky ones (whites) are land or home owners. Sometimes they find themselves on land that has been tilled and built up over centuries by predecessors, willing to rise to the challenge of toeing the line. Mostly (white) property owners are ‘lucky’ because they have spent many years slowly and laboriously climbing the ladder of hard work and saving until they are able to afford making an offer on a place of their own. Most often this purchase is a small apartment; sometimes a humble and run-down cottage badly in need of repairs; and yes – sometimes it is something slightly more luxurious like an upmarket dwelling set in a lush garden.

Only some of us own property

I bet you don’t know, Mr Malema, that many, many whites have never before tasted the privilege of being property owners? Hundreds are even homeless. My guess is that you prefer to ignore these hard realities, because they would tend to level the playing field, would they not? And it would not suit you, because you would have to admit that your accusations and assumptions are skewed, to say the very least. You would have to face the fact that land ownership is a status that is hankered after and longed for by South Africans of all colors and from all walks of life.

Do you even know how many young white adults who were born in the 80’s and 90’s are unemployed and anxious today or working abroad, and how many who were born in the 70’s have for years been living overseas because there was simply no hope for them to ever find jobs when they set out to do so in the 90’s? By the scores, parents and their young adult children became separated from one another when the latter were forced to spread their wings and find a livelihood further afield, whilst the former stayed put in the country of their birth and are now – as I write – ageing, ailing and dying often without the closeness and assistance of their loved ones?

The white faces you see in parliament, in public, in schools and universities, on farms and in your neighborhood – alongside you on the road to a better South Africa for all, often belong to 10th, 11th or 12th generation descendants of hopeful forefathers who came to Africa with little more than hope and basic skills.

This is our land of origin and birth, Mr Malema, as it is yours. You could even say the respective colors of our skins are coincidental. But they have never been a crime. Not yours, not ours.

 

 

Advertisements

Helen Zille’s Track Record speaks louder than her words

images

Although she did not use the word ‘devastating’ lightly, my mother in her lifetime fairly often resorted to it in describing adverse events that were deeply saddening or profoundly shocking.

I do not know how Western Cape Premier Helen Zille feels about the furore that broke loose after her now notorious colonialism tweet in March of this year, shortly after an official visit to Singapore. However, as rational and controlled as her responses may be, the various reactions may quite well for several reasons be devastating to her. One of them must surely be the fact that she has spent her entire adult life (from student days) fighting, writing and campaigning against political inequalities in this country. And notwithstanding this track record, she is being ostracized over this tweet: “For those claiming the legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport, infrastructure, piped water etc.”

CONTEXT

Sure, it is probably valid to say that it was somewhat irresponsible to share a thought of that nature with the world at large and more specifically her extremely jumpy and jittery fellow South Africans. But what about context? What about the courage to point out that we are, in fact, in various ways benefiting from some of the more harmless leftovers of an undesirable era.

I only once had a very brief personal encounter with Zille in the course of my five year term as a ward councillor between 2011 and 2016 – during which time she was the Federal Leader of the Party until succeeded by Mmusi Maimane in 2015. However, as a journalist myself by profession, I have for long taken a keen interest in her leadership style, her role in the Struggle and her approach to politics in South Africa; and I have coincidentally learned a great deal more about her background and history by reading her autobiography ‘Not Without a Fight’.

She is perfectly human, which is a relief to know, and far from perfect. But, as the case would have been even before the unfortunate tweet incident, I am of the opinion that Helen Zille has an almost unparalleled track record as a (white) champion for democracy in this country.

In my humble opinion as a professional person with a master’s degree, an above-average interest in politics as well as a coveted first-hand experience in politics during a crucial time in democratic South Africa, the public response to her tweet by her own party leadership could have been dealt with differently. I mean to say: Surely her actions over decades speak way louder than a loaded word taken out of context?!

DECADES OF DEDICATION

Have a heart. After fearlessly and tirelessly pioneering and spearheading in pursuit of a South Africa without oppression, racial divides and inequality for literally decades; after surrounding herself in the process with kindred spirits from all walks of life and mentoring, empowering those who could eventually take over the reins; and after stepping down at the best time possible to stand back – in favour of a new and equally dynamic leadership in the person of Mmusi Maimane, without however quitting the quest: was it the most suitable response from her inner circle, to declare that it was distancing itself from her and that she should be subjected to a disciplinary hearing?

On 6 April Times Live quoted her as saying:

“One of those lessons was that Singapore, having suffered centuries of colonial oppression, succeeded in re-purposing aspects of colonialism’s legacy to build an inclusive modern economy. This, among other things, has enabled its people to escape poverty within a generation.

“There is no question that colonialism was driven by greed and oppressive intent. The question for countries today is whether they are able, like Singapore, to leverage aspects of the legacy of an oppressive past to their advantage.” Mature minds, surely, could have processed and subsequently responded more wisely to the actual tweet, for example by requesting an explanation and clarification from her and by stating that further announcements would be made once the matter had been dealt with internally?

COLLEAGUES APPLAUDED

On 29 March 2017 IOL reported: “After a fiery speech in her own defence she received a standing ovation from DA colleagues.” “…Zille said on Tuesday that people who believed the price of colonialism was too high should not drive cars or visit places of worship, as these were leftover legacies of colonists in SA.

“I am talking about the motor car. Today in South Africa, this colonial leftover is not only a means of transport, but the ultimate status symbol,” she said.

“She defended her tweet as a ‘simple statement of fact’ and said it had sparked a ‘critical’ debate which was of ‘urgent national importance’.”

She had said her visit to Singapore and Japan had been eye-opening.

“It seemed to me that the colonised has overtaken the coloniser on the world stage and I thought it was worthwhile asking why,” she said.

She denied defending or praising colonialism and apologised to those offended by her tweets.

Earlier DA MPLs among whom Bonginkosi Madikizela, Masizole Mnqasela and Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer had defended Zille, with Mnqasela bringing up Zille’s struggle credentials, reminding MPs of when she had sheltered ANC activists such as Tony Yengeni and Mcebisi Skwatsha.

“NOTHING BUT HARM”

Ironically, in an interview with Alec Hogg for BizNews.com in November 2015, one of Helen Zille’s former critics from within her own ranks at the time, writer Bill (RW) Johnson’ had spoken out against the heavy penalty that MP Diane Kohler Barnard had incurred by tweeting irresponsibly, and prophetically made out a case in Zille’s favour:

“This nonsense with Diane Kohler Barnard… Look, I don’t do social media. I don’t waste my time with it but all these politicians seem to get into tremendous trouble by using it. I don’t know why they do either. It’s done nothing but harm to Helen Zille and now, it’s harmed Kohler Barnard. What she did was a sort of ridiculous thing, which anyone could do with a flick of the mouse. To throw her out of the party and ruin her career over that is an amazing piece of hypersensitivity.”

“Blah-blah-blah…” Is JZ taking strain?

presidentjacobzumaI was not personally present in the ‘House’. Thank goodness. But in the comfort of my own home with mercifully only a screen-sized image of the so-called ‘state of the nation address’, I was allowed ample opportunity to partake with much dismay in the scandalous proceedings  of Parliament yesterday, 9 February 2017.

Once the red and white chaos and turbulence of raucous EFF conduct and somewhat vehement security intervention had subsided on the screen and the other opposition parties had seemingly haphazardly voiced their points of order, concerns and objections or left the House in protest, the beleaguered president could commence his address more than an hour late. This was also after the speakers of the two houses had exerted themselves (pretty much in vain!) in an effort to exercise their powers and execute their duties for the sake of maintaining(?) / restoring (?) order in the House… Two stern women. But to no avail.

HE LAUGHED

And what was JZ’s first reaction when he ‘finally’ (his word) took the podium? He laughed. I would have cried. At least inwardly, which I seriously doubt he is even capable of doing. What a shame. What a shambles. I used the same word to describe the previous SONA, and I wish it were different this time.

The worst of the laughing bit is that he did it at least twice during the course of last night’s address. That hollow, nerve-grating sound that says ‘see the tear in my eye!’.

Did I want to hear what he had to say? Honestly, no. It was so much of the same old, same old. Interspersed with scarlet threads of threat upon (racial) threat. Yes! How is it in order for this individual to hammer on the black/white issue without anyone blinking an eye?! Twenty three years down the line! How much time do you need, sir? “Today we are starting a new chapter of radical social-economic transformation…” Oh my word: rewind, rewind, rewind?

I did not count how many times our president made references to race and to the measures in which – in his explicit opinion – inequality still prevailed in, among others, the business sector and the work-place… and how drastic measures were (according to him) to be put in place to rectify the situation. Oh boy. Just imagine if anyone else, from any other political or social grouping, had the audacity and took the liberty to speak so freely on sensitive issues in racially charged terms!

TIRED & LONELY?

The kitchen with unwashed dinner dishes has a strangely powerful attraction to me midway through his address. And from there, whilst performing mundane household duties, I hear this halting and monotonous drone that could/should surely not be an address  by a country’s number one citizen to his people?

The course of events inside  that Parliament building – whilst the angry tumult of the exiles continues on the streets surrounding it – sounds and appears to be like the lifeless rehearsal of a stage production doomed to failure: undramatic sentences… followed by uninspired applause. More of that. And yet more. Announcement. Applause. Repeat.

You look extremely tired, Mr President. And spent. You even appear lonely. Alone. Deserted? Abandoned?

Yet – you stay. How come? But seriously: don’t you get it? What will it take?