How SA un­der the ANC is be­ing re-racialised


THE Constitution makes the sta­tus of non-racism clear by declar­ing in Sec­tion 1 – deal­ing with the fun­da­men­tal val­ues on which our demo­cratic sovereign state is based – that non-racism is one of th­ese val­ues along with hu­man dig­nity and the achieve­ment of equal­ity.

The ANC’s constitution and the Free­dom Char­ter en­dorse this prin­ci­ple by declar­ing, in the last case, “South Africa be­longs to all who live in it, black and white”.

This ex­plains the con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal po­si­tion as well as the tra­di­tional and his­tor­i­cal po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion of the ANC.

In the lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle the ANC’s lead­er­ship and prom­i­nent spokesper­sons and lead­ers re­flected this prin­ci­ple of non-racism, by virtue of the fact that the fol­low­ing peo­ple were in­volved: Bram Fisher, Ahmed Kathrada, Joe Slovo, Kader As­mal, He­len Joseph, Jay Naidoo, Dul­lah Omar, Trevor Manuel and Jay Naidoo.

In this re­gard, The­uns Eloff, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the FW de Klerk Foun­da­tion penned an in­ter­est­ing and per­cep­tive ar­ti­cle on No­vem­ber 1 on the an­ti­thet­i­cal per­spec­tives in re­la­tion to the sem­i­nal ques­tion of non-racism in the ac­ri­mo­niously di­vided ANC now.

He does this us­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­for­ma­tion from a 30-page leaked doc­u­ment of the Thabo Mbeki Foun­da­tion (TMF), which caused a furore on so­cial me­dia and, in par­tic­u­lar, within the ANC.

It is clear from this con­tro­versy that the ANC, as a po­lit­i­cal party and move­ment, is acutely and ap­par­ently ir­repara­bly di­vided on the car­di­nal is­sue and sta­tus of non-racism.

Eloff, in his in­sight­ful ar­ti­cle, makes some per­ti­nent and per­cep­tive ob­ser­va­tions that de­serve care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and po­lit­i­cal re­flec­tion.

First, he points out that the TMF be­lieves the con­tentious is­sue of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion (EWC) is pos­si­ble with­out a for­mal amend­ment of Sec­tion 25 of the Constitution.

How­ever, what is of pro­found sig­nif­i­cance is that the de­mand for such an amend­ment is un­for­tu­nately race-based.

Sec­ond, in this re­gard, he ex­plains that the cru­cial is­sue is how this re­cent ANC de­ci­sion to amend Sec­tion 25 for the ex­press pur­pose of EWC af­fects in no un­cer­tain way the na­tional ques­tion and need to build a non-ra­cial so­ci­ety as en­vis­aged in the SA Constitution and that of the ANC.

His care­fully con­sid­ered opin­ion is a clear in­di­ca­tion that the TMF has come to the in­escapable con­clu­sion that the ex­tant ANC has de­parted from the tra­di­tional view and prin­ci­ple of non-racism, as ex­plained above, by tak­ing its de­ci­sion on EWC, which re­quires an ex­press amend­ment of Sec­tion 25 of the Constitution.

He opines that the in­evitable re­sult of this is that the ANC has ef­fec­tively been trans­formed into an es­sen­tially “black or African­ist party” in the nar­row sense of the word.

It is there­fore no longer rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all South Africans and, as a re­sult, In­di­ans, coloureds and whites are be­ing ef­fec­tively ex­cluded or at least marginalised. This means that the ANC can no longer be a “Par­lia­ment of the peo­ple” as it has been his­tor­i­cally.

Eloff ob­serves that, for some time, start­ing with the Zuma pres­i­dency, mat­ters have gone awry and that a process of re-racial­is­ing the state and its op­er­a­tion has been in­ex­orably oc­cur­ring.

This is bring­ing about a sys­tem of ra­cial na­tion­al­ism, fa­cil­i­tated by ag­gres­sive af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion, in the form of cadre de­ploy­ment, rad­i­cal black em­pow­er­ment and un­qual­i­fied em­ploy­ment eq­uity, all un­der the guise of “trans­for­ma­tion”, re­sult­ing in the marginal­i­sa­tion of the mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties of In­di­ans, coloureds and whites.

Ra­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion, based most fre­quently on the na­tional de­mog­ra­phy of 80% African, 9% coloured, 9% white and 2% In­dian, gives rise to ra­cial for­mula of 80:9:9:2 for th­ese groups when it comes to em­ploy­ment in the civil ser­vice and else­where.

The marginal­i­sa­tion of mi­nori­ties has been wors­ened by the vo­cif­er­ous rhetoric of de­coloni­sa­tion which has emerged out of the Fees Must Fall move­ment which en­gulfed the uni­ver­si­ties, start­ing at UCT.

In cer­tain pol­icy doc­u­ments deal­ing with the Na­tional Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion, white South Africans were de­scribed derog­a­tively as “colo­nial­ists of a spe­cial kind”.

All of this must in­evitably give rise to a man­i­fest po­lar­i­sa­tion, rather than na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and na­tion-build­ing.

For some time the two streams of thought that have crys­tallised into an­tag­o­nis­tic fac­tions, which have been emerg­ing within the ANC in re­la­tion to non-racism, one co­gently com­mit­ted to it, the other di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to it.

This con­sti­tutes a fault line which, to­gether with the fact that the tri­par­tite al­liance is in in­ex­orable de­cline or is vir­tu­ally mori­bund, has sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for our fu­ture po­lit­i­cal devel­op­ment and which could lead to a re­ori­en­ta­tion of po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

The two streams or fac­tions as­so­ci­ated with Ramaphosa and Zuma re­spec­tively are prob­a­bly in­com­pat­i­ble and at some time in the fu­ture there must be a part­ing of the ways.

Wait­ing in the wings are the EFF and the DA, who might be­come in­volved through the pol­i­tics of coali­tion or merger, should the ANC un­der Ramaphosa fail to se­cure more than 50% in the gen­eral elec­tions that must take place around May.

This could change the face of South Africa’s pol­i­tics fun­da­men­tally for­ever.

Even if Ramaphosa does se­cure more than 50%, in the long term, change of this kind ap­pears to be in­evitable be­cause of the ba­sic in­com­pat­i­bil­ity of the two fac­tions.

Ul­ti­mately, as our pol­i­tics ma­tures po­lit­i­cal par­ties will be­gin to dif­fer on eco­nomic is­sues, as has oc­curred in Eu­rope and the UK, rather than race, as has been tra­di­tion­ally the po­si­tion in South Africa.

Devenish is emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor at UKZN and helped draft the in­terim constitution in 1993.

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