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.