CityPress - - Voices - Man­fred Schroenn Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, KwaZulu-Natal

en­joyed read­ing the col­umn “We have not walked Madiba’s path” by Fanie du Toit (City Press, July 5 2015).

Re­gard­ing the very laud­able im­prove­ments in in­ter­ra­cial trust and a few con­cerns ex­pressed about in­ter­ra­cial at­ti­tudes in the ar­ti­cle, per­haps it might en­hance the in­sti­tute’s strate­gic po­si­tion if de­mo­graphic sta­tis­tics were pro­vided. For ex­am­ple, if there are only 4.5 mil­lion whites out of a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of about 51 mil­lion peo­ple, the op­por­tu­nity for about 46 mil­lion peo­ple to en­counter and in­ter­act closely with whites, as their fel­low South Africans, may be some­what lim­ited.

Per­haps the “fall­ing lev­els of sup­port among white South Africans for ... re­dress” also needs to be seen in terms of the ef­fects and dy­nam­ics of leg­is­lated change, and the very small pop­u­la­tion of whites.

The gov­ern­ment’s ex­ten­sive re­dress leg­is­la­tion has been en­acted so con­spic­u­ously that there would ap­pear to be less in­cli­na­tion for whites to be ex­pected to con­trib­ute in greater ways to re­dress in “con­crete and ma­te­rial” terms. One won­ders what pre­cisely is the “con­crete and ma­te­rial” re­dress that is ex­pected of whites.

Ap­par­ently, the black mid­dle class now com­prises about 6 mil­lion or 7 mil­lion peo­ple. It will be valu­able to get more ex­act sta­tis­tics for this.

Clearly, the new mid­dle class is not only white. Fur­ther­more, there are prob­a­bly a sub­stan­tial num­ber of whites who fall within the low­est class of be­ing poverty-stricken and un­em­ployed. Some even live in squat­ter camps and are no longer pro­tected by the in­jus­tice of apartheid job reser­va­tion.

On the other hand, the dy­namic of up­wardly mo­bile, pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple, pro­pelled by the re­dress of af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion and BEE op­por­tu­ni­ties is adding to the rapid growth of the mid­dle class.

It would be ju­di­cious, less self-in­ter­ested and more em­pa­thetic for the South African mid­dle class, black and white, to fol­low Madiba’s path and vi­sion, and be will­ing “to walk with each other ... and to care for one an­other”, es­pe­cially those poverty-stricken and un­em­ployed South Africans.

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