The Citizen (KZN)

Anti-Zuma does not equal racism


Speaking yesterday at the Chris Hani commemorat­ion, President Jacob Zuma made his first reference to his thoughts and feelings on the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who took to the streets on Friday to ask for him to step down. Disappoint­ingly, the only thing Zuma appeared to have noticed was an alleged poster by a white person calling black people baboons.

We struggled to find evidence of such a poster, though we don’t have access to state security and a network of spies, so we’ll concede it probably exists.

But to dismiss as racist all those marches countrywid­e, many on street corners wherever one turned, may be to entirely miss the point.

To attempt to delegitimi­se everyone who doesn’t like you by making out that they are simply driven by racism is an insult to the country and the intellect of most of our people.

Zuma’s supporter Faith Muthambi has even attempted to turn the protests into nothing more than people trying to protect white privilege. She called black protesters “lackeys”.

This was just a convenient and very arrogant excuse to avoid having to engage with serious, and very legitimate, grievances.

In invoking Hani’s name yesterday, Zuma said Hani “believed in a nonracial society. In his memory, we must continue building a nonracial society and fight racism wherever it rears its ugly head.”

Yes, Hani did say: “We need to create a new breed of South Africans who love their country and love everybody, irrespecti­ve of their colour.” So you are right there, Mr President.

But he also said: “What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists, who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of this country … to live in palaces and to gather riches.”

You may want to consider that as the more direct reason – not racism – for why the people marched.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa