I was sitting in the drive through this afternoon, waiting for delivery of my well know branded chicken pieces, when on the Afrikaans RSG radio station an ANC local government advert bleated over my car’s stereo speakers after the compulsory warning that the political party and not the SABC paid for the advert. President Zuma urging Arikaans speaking voters, many who are White, to vote for his beloved “we will rule till Jesus descends from heaven” and “the party is my first love” political movement, the ANC.
Vote for us he said in imperfect English (not that mine is any better!) on an Afrikaans public radio station, because we will rid you from the pain of years of discrimination caused by the White Apartheid regime. Agreed, Apartheid was a gross injustice and a system that discriminated against many fellow South Africans purely based on their race.
But herein irony number one, the race card being played by a so called non-racial party – ‘White Apartheid’, the Presidents words aimed at uniting the nation behind the ANC, as opposed to just ‘Apartheid’. And that when trying to convince White voters to vote for it! What a sure way to convince those same White voters, the majority of whom voted in the 1980’s and early 1990’s to eventually rid South Africa from Apartheid or are born frees that only knows the new South Africa, not to vote for you.
But maybe the ANC don’t actual need the White votes because they are still generally expected to come out tops this year despite the growing electoral threat of the DA and the ANC’s own stepchild, the EFF. But maybe not in this years local government election, but highly possible in the next national election the ANC might just desperately need each and every White or Coloured Afrikaans speaking voter it can lay its hands on just to stay in power.
Irony number two namely the President advertising his party of freedom that gave us our wonderful Constitution with its guarantees of media freedom on the RSG radio station, belonging to the public broadcaster the SABC, and urging Afrikaans voters to vote for his party, when the same SABC as a government entity is busy eroding freedom of speech and free and fair reporting of news that’s in the public interest through the implementation of censorship. All of this right under the nose of the same ANC who until recently staunchly defended the SABC, its Board and controversial COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and who only changed their tune very late because the party feared loosing even more votes in an election year.
Irony number three, that it was mainly journalist from the Afrikaans radio station, RSG, that had the guts to eventually stand up against the SABC dictatorship, thereby pushing the matter firmly into the national spotlight. Soldiers for media freedom, White and Coloured Afrikaans speaking South Africans together with their Black colleagues standing up and saying #notinmyname and paying the price by being summarily dismissed by the SABC without due process. Not bad Mr. President for a few descendants of Jan van Riebeeck, who you so quickly blame for all South Africa’s social ills, and Harry the Strandloper. But vote for you party, I would think not because when we expected your party to lead in front as the guardians of our Constitution you dismally failed leaving the fight for media freedom to mainly a few Afrikaans speaking SABC radio journalists.
Irony number four, the President being quoted in the media (and not out of context this time) saying that he does not understand how Black people could ever vote for the DA. Forgive me but on the ANC posters I thought I read that the party will fight racism? How then can President Zuma so blatantly claim all Black voters as the ANC’s personal property as if these voters don’t have the ability, free will and personal agency to decide for themselves who to vote for! And so only Black voters care for the ANC Mr. President? This would be funny if it was not so sad and tragic.
Coming back to the issue of calling out Apartheid as being a White construct it goes without saying that yes, White voters introduced Apartheid and sustained it for a number of decades to their benefit (and yes Apartheid was inherently unjust and discriminatory as previously stated). However in the last 15 years or so of Apartheid it was however hardly a pure White construct anymore. Hundred of thousands of Black, Coloured and Indian politicians and government functionaries served freely during these years in, and benefited from, state organs like the tri-cameral parliament, homeland governments and administrations, the TBVC state governments and administrations (former Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei governments), racially based local government structures in the Black townships and Indian and Coloured towns, racially mixed regional services councils and racially mixed provincial executives.
And herein lies irony number five, our past is seen by the ANC only in either good or bad, black or white terms. As if nothing good ever ever happened during the Apartheid years – South Africa did not develop to become Africa’s leading economy with an advanced banking and finance system and modern road and rail infrastructure, an industrialized nation that offered employment for most of its citizens, we did not advance technologically (no heart transplants, no Sasol etc.), there were no happy families or good memories for those living during those years etc. etc., no no all was bad and evil with only racist White people supporting the system and with all Black people, with the exception of a few collaborators, vehemently opposing the system.
And so to the last irony, whereas the ANC is quick to blame all White people for their association with Apartheid, they are even quicker to name as their own some of those Black people who served in the apartheid state or those White people who despite Apartheid are useful to their purpose. One example of the former being the late Tom Boya, the Mayor of the racially based and therefore despised by the ANC, Daveyton Black Local Authority who the ANC hailed as a hero at his funeral. This despite the fact that Tom Boya was not just an ordinary Mayor under Apartheid, but chairperson for many years in the 1980’s of the Black Urban Council Association of South Africa (UCASA), a position similar to that of the chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) today. He was however not branded a sell-out by the ANC as Mr. Buthelezi were often for having served in the KwaZulu-Natal homeland government.
An example of the latter – a White Deputy Minister who will remain nameless serving in the ANC government today despite being anti-ANC as a student at the Rand Afrikaans University. Every time I see him on television, I cringe when I think about how he spoke out against the ANC in the early 1980’s.
I’m sorry Mr. President, because of the aforementioned its going to take much more than a few words in a badly thought out English radio add aired on an Afrikaans radio station RSG to convince Afrikaans speaking voters of all backgrounds to vote for the ANC. And no its got nothing to do with racism or being anti-Black or anti-ANC but everything to do with the ANC’s dismal record in promoting and demonstrating their own commitment to real non-racialism, in upholding and fighting for all the values set out in our Constitution (cowardly leaving these fights to opposition parties, the Public Protector and ordinary citizens like the ‘SABC 8’) and in ensuring good governance in so many government institutions of which the SABC is but one of the ANC’s many failures.