To my mind
PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI must surely cringe every time someone becomes a victim of crime in the Auckland Park area. His statement that crime is not out of control has come back to haunt him. Earlier this year he said in an interview on SABC TV: “It’s not as if someone will walk here to the TV studio in Auckland Park and get shot. That doesn’t happen and it won’t happen.”
He should ask Generations actress Katlego Danke what she thinks of that (she was attacked and knifed outside the studio).
And yet it’s a great pity that every time another South African becomes the victim of crime, it’s more ammunition for the anti-Mbeki camp. It’s just as pitiful that every time someone makes a racist remark, it adds fuel to the flames of the racist fire that our President apparently loves fanning so furiously. This leads to the importance of these serious issues being lost in the mudslinging.
In fact, all that we achieve is emphasising the differences between South Africans and opening the raw wounds of the past. FF Plus leader Pieter Mulder and outgoing Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon made relevant points when they said in Parliament recently that South Africans don’t listen or talk to one another enough. Someone went further and said we don’t even know one another. That’s even closer to the truth.
We don’t need special insight to predict that – as with crime – we’ll always have racism. It won’t disappear. But what can change is the way we cope with our differences. If we got to know each other better, we’d recognise similarities and would become less obsessed with the differences.
And greater understanding of each other would make us less susceptible to misconceptions – and even deliberate attempts by politicians to mislead us.
In his book The Other Side of History, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert wrote that myths disappear when the weight of historical evidence makes them irrelevant. Incidentally, he said in the same paragraph that race is one of the most stubborn and entrenched myths that keeps on surviving.
It’s only ordinary South Africans who can disprove such myths. We can’t rely on politicians to do it for us.
South Africans have been suffering the scourge of crime for long enough due to a lack of leadership, and under the “leadership” of politicians, we’re increasingly being driven further apart because of racism. It will be the silent majority – who have already shown that they want to work and stay together as South Africans – who will decide how South Africa is going to overcome those differences.
SIZWEKAZI JEKWA has been chosen as the South African winner of a journalistic prize introduced by Citigroup and awarded in all the countries in which it operates. The prize for excellence in journalism – first awarded in 1982 – is aimed at promoting financial and business journalism. As part of her prize, Jekwa will attend a two-week course at the renowned Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in the United States.