The end of non-racialism?

Dave Steward says ANC rhetoric consistently characterises whites as “the other”

Dave Steward

In his recent address to the Cape Town Press Club Hlumelo Biko pointed to the increasing tendency within the ANC to “obectivise”, to “other” and to “border” non-black communities – and particularly whites. He warned that this process was not good news for those who are being objectivised.




What did he mean?

A speech by Jeff Radebe last month in Parliament provides some pointers regarding the manner in which the Government is ramping up its rhetoric. In a relatively short address, he referred no fewer than seven times to the depredations of the past –


  • to “apartheid colonialism”;
  • to “the struggle against colonialism and apartheid”;
  • to “the forces of colonialism and later of apartheid, on the one side, arrayed …against the forces of freedom and democracy on the other side;”
  •  to ” … the heroic stance by the United Nations when It declared apartheid a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace;”
  • to “…the untold suffering, strife and racial hatred sowed by apartheid…”; and
  • to “…the poverty trap and vicious cycle of inequality perpetrated by the legacy of apartheid and colonialism…”


Such references pepper most policy statements made by the ANC. Whatever their historic merit – or lack of merit – it would be surprising if they do not stir up some degree of racial animosity – or at the very least – reinforce perceptions of white moral inferiority and black entitlement. Inevitably they fuel demands for restitution – particularly of land – which most black South Africans firmly believe was stolen from their ancestors.

The message characterises whites as “the other” and places them beyond the border of “us” because they are presented as being either directly responsible for “apartheid colonialism” – or as being its present day heirs and beneficiaries. Whites are indelibly tarnished by the past – while blacks are identified with the forces of freedom and democracy. The “legacy of apartheid and colonialism” is routinely identified as the root cause of most of South Africa’s problems – and particularly of the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Increasing use is made of the term “apartheid colonialism” – implying that whites are transient alien interlopers. For example, the Green Paper on Land Reform proclaims that “all anti-colonial struggles are at the core about two things, repossession of lost land and restoring the centrality of indigenous culture” (i.e. placing blacks at the centre and “bordering” and “othering” minorities at the periphery).

The message continues that, in the second phase of national transition, the time has now arrived to take action against these vestiges of apartheid and colonialism.

All this raises questions about the degree to which non-racialism is still a core value of our new society, of our government and of the ruling alliance.

It is a question that was recently addressed by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in a study of racial perceptions in a number of ANC branches in Guateng. The findings revealed “a growing sense of isolation and fracture among non-African constituencies” which could have “profound implications for the party’s (the ANC’s) ‘identity’ as a non-racial party.”

Although participants in the survey noted that the ANC “theoretically supports the ideal of non-racialism” they felt that there were “significant problems with race relations within the ANC, at all levels” – particularly in branches with strong minority membership – such as Eldorado Park, Sandton and Lenasia. Among the problems were perceptions of racism and the sense that non-Africans were excluded from leadership positions.

The authors of the study go on to discuss the ANC doctrine that the institutional racism of “colonialism of a special type” can be overcome only through the “empowerment of blacks in general and Africans in particular”. This will require “the radical restructuring of key aspects of the economy so as to destroy the material basis of the white racist power structure.” This process – which lies at the core of the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution – is described by Firoz Cachalia as “anti-racist-racism”. According to Pallo Jordan

“The movement adopted as policy the conscious and deliberate re-racialisation of South Africa by undertaking a host of measures, among which are affirmative action, to ensure that the results of decades of systematic discrimination and denial of job opportunities are reversed. In other words, the purpose of affirmative action is to create circumstances in which affirmative action will no longer be necessary.”

The ANC’s updated 2012 Strategy and Tactics document states that “the need for such affirmative action will decline in the same measure as all centres of power and influence and other critical spheres of social endeavour become broadly representative of the country’s demographics. In the process, all inequalities that may persist or arise need to be addressed.”

The “re-racialisation” of South Africa is gathering pace. The government rigidly allocates posts in the public service according to demographics – down to the first decimal point – regardless of merit or objective circumstances. Coloured employees of the Department of Correctional Services in the Western Cape are informed that they will not be promoted – because they have exceeded their national racial quota of 8.8%. 1 500 white members of the SAPS have been refused promotion to vacant officers posts because they have exceeded their 9% quota. Late last year Minister Rob Davies said that demographic representivity should also be applied to the private sector: “We need to make sure that in the country’s economy, control, ownership and leadership are reflective of the demographics of the society in the same way the political space does. ”

What we are experiencing is racial social engineering on a Verwoerdian scale, where once again, the course of South Africans’ lives is being determined by their race and not by individual merit. Because it will take generations to achieve broad demographic representivity in all centres of power and influence minority communities can expect to be subjected to “anti-racist racism” for the indefinite future. For all intents and purposes South Africa is no longer a non-racial society.

The “re-racialistion” of South Africa is the antithesis of the constitutional values of human dignity, equality and on-racialism on which our new society has been based. It contravenes South Africa’s international treaty obligations – and it will certainly destroy any hope of national unity. Without national unity we will have little chance of successfully implementing the National Development Plan or of addressing the many challenges that confront us – including the pressing need for a rational and workable transformation process.

Dave Steward is Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation


South Africa is open for business – Jacob Zuma

President tells WEF meeting that Mangaung has restored policy certainty

President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma

Address by President Jacob Zuma to the South African Business Community attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland

23 January 2013





Honourable Ministers,

Brand SA Chairperson, Ms Chichi Maponya,

The South African business community,

WEF representatives,

Members of the media,

Good afternoon to you all.

We are here in Davos, as South Africans from different sectors, to present South Africa to the World Economic Forum as a country of many opportunities, and as a destination of choice for investors.

We will present a South Africa that is part of the impressively growing African continent.

We also meet in Davos just a few weeks after a very important political event in our country, the 53rd national conference of the African National Congress, which plays a key role in determining the country’s policy direction.

The conference adopted the National Development Plan, which was produced last year by the National Planning Commission in my office, as our blueprint towards development and prosperity.

The conference has thus set the tone and provided the line of march, not only for the next five years, but until 2030.Nobody can say that they are uncertain about the direction that our country is taking. That is the good news about South Africa.

The Mangaung conference also declared that our key objective for the next five years in particular, is to achieve comprehensive socio-economic freedom.

We have achieved a comprehensive political freedom and stability and consolidated our constitutional democracy. Now we must deliver prosperity and a better life for all, especially for the poor and the working class in our country.

Together as business, government, labour and the community sector, we must tackle our three fierce enemies – poverty, unemployment and inequality.

These three challenges remain persistent, regardless of the progress we are making in improving the quality of life for all.

You will recall that our Census 2011 report also indicated the high levels of inequality that we must still deal with, regardless of the strides we have made since 1994.

One of the findings of the Census 2011 is that income distribution and growth are still racially skewed in favour of white compatriots. This is a cause for concern for all of us.

It compels us to work together with all our social partners to attack head on, the triple challenges.

All these challenges will be easier to tackle now under a climate of policy certainty. They are easier to tackle if there is unity in action.

A positive note for our growth and development prospects, confirmed by the Census, is that we are essentially a nation of young people. Just over a third of the population is under the age of 15.

Therefore our focus on improving the quality of education and skills development is well-placed.

The good news is that we already have agreements on basic education and skills development signed by government, labour and business, which demonstrates the willingness to work together to solve problems facing the country. This willingness to work together is a very positive attribute of South Africa. We must celebrate it and nurture it.

Going forward, we invite the business sector to continue partnering government in finding solutions. There can be no “us and them”, we are building one country.

Now that the National Development Plan has been put on the table, and enjoys the widest support in the country by all political parties and sectors, we must now implement it, all of us.

In government and the ANC we will spend time at the two forthcoming makgotla this month and in February discussing the implementation of the plan. We invite business to do the same. We trust that companies will align their strategic plans with the National Development Plan. Companies should be able to say what they want to achieve by 2030 in terms of promoting sound and inclusive growth, in line with the National Development Plan.

We also urge companies to anticipate difficult situations such as the current global economic crisis which is impacting negatively in our country socially and economically.

The decrease in the demand and price of platinum, coupled with internal dynamics within the sector, are already leading to job losses in South Africa.

Shareholders naturally look at their profit margins and tend to prioritise them over jobs.

If we plan together as we should and keep channels of communication open at all times, we can arrive at win/win solutions that benefit the country as a whole, while protecting the vulnerable, especially workers and the poor in our country.


Let me also remind you of our six job drivers in which we urge you and the international business sector to invest in. These are agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, mining, manufacturing and the green economy. We have been promoting investments and growth in these six areas since 2010 and trust that you will continue to find opportunities. The purpose is to create jobs and improve the livelihoods of our people.

Infrastructure development is our flagship project, given its capacity to create jobs while changing the landscape of our country. Domestically there are roads, dams, power stations, schools, hospitals and more that are being built or refurbished. All these provide enormous opportunities for the business sector.

In the continent, the North-South infrastructure development corridor that South Africa champions, from Durban to Dar-es-Salaam, also provides enormous investment opportunities.

Let me reiterate that Mangaung has brought about policy certainty. Now is the time for us to work harder to break the back of poverty, unemployment and inequality, working together. We must focus our collective energies on building a prosperous South Africa and the achievement of socio-economic freedom in our lifetime for our people.

It is also the time for all us to begin promoting our country and selling its many positive attributes. This means we need a serious shift in mindset. We must turn our backs on negativity and embrace a new spirit of innovation, creativity and patriotism. We also need to stop exaggerating some of the occurrences in our country which are regarded as normal in other countries. For example, worker strikes are a common feature in democracies. Workers have rights and know their rights. They will exercise these rights from time to time. Strikes hardly make headlines in other countries as they are normal occurrences. In South Africa these tend to be seen to indicate that the country is somehow falling apart!

We have a progressive labour relations framework which must be utilised to quickly resolve industrial disputes. We must move away from exaggerations and focus on solutions.


It is possible to build a South Africa as outlined in the National Development Plan, where all have water, electricity, sanitation, quality education, health care and housing, and where the majority have jobs and a good life. But that will require a lot of work from all of us. It will require the collective use of the talent and leadership that exists in our country in business, government, labour and the community sectors in a partnership for development and progress.

South Africa provides huge opportunities in the six job drivers, especially the infrastructure programme, which is estimated at four trillion rand over the next 15 years.

South Africa is stable, friendly, resilient and able to solve its problems. That is the type of country and society that we are presenting to the world.

We are presenting a South Africa that is open for business and which is open to provide entry into the African continent, a fast growing region which is proving many Afro-pessimists wrong.

I wish you well with all your sessions.

Let us make South Africa shine in Davos, together!

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency, January 23 2013