The discussion document below was released by then Democratic Party leader, Tony Leon, at a press conference on Wednesday 4th February 1998. This followed Nelson Mandela’ speech at the African National Congress national conference in December the previous year where the outgoing ANC President announced a decisive shift away from racial reconciliation towards the policies of racial transformation championed by his hand-picked successor, Thabo Mbeki.
The DP had won 1,7% of the vote in the 1994 elections, as compared to the 20% won by the National Party. In 1997 it was still polling at around 2%. The DP made its great electoral breakthrough in the first half of 1998 with the two parties level pegging by July 1998 according to Markdata polling. In the 1999 elections the DP would overtak the Freedom Front, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and the now New National Party and become the official opposition in the South African parliament. - PW
The Death of the Rainbow Nation
Unmasking the ANC's programme of re-racialisation
3. The ANC's Programme of Racial "Transformation"
3.1 The dangers of racial politics
3.3 The ANC leadership on racial transformation
3.3 Implementing the re-racialisation programme
3.4 The Employment Equity Bill
3.5 Racial transformation in the public sector
3.6 Racial transformation in higher education
3.7 Race and sport
4. Creating an Enabling Environment for the ANC's Racial Agenda
4.2 The general atmosphere: Political correctness and intimidation
4.3 Mobilising the rhetoric of non-racialism in the pursuit of racial politics
4.4 The promise that racial discrimination will be temporary
4.5 Making the terms "black" and "ANC" synonymous
4.6 Making "white" synonymous with racism and protecting white privilege
4.7 Scapegoating minorities
4.8 The threat of a racial explosion
5. The Foundation of the ANC's Policy of Racial Transformation
5.1 The myth of finite opportunities
5.2 The myth that equality and demographic representivity are synonymous
5.3 The electoral value to the ANC of its re-racialisation programme
6. Implications and Consequences of Racial Transformation
6.1 Implications for a common society
6.2 Consequences for delivery
For a brief period after 1994 it appeared that South Africa would be able to transcend its racially divisive past. The promise of the "New South Africa" was first and foremost, the promise of a future in which race would no longer be the over-riding determinant of identity and opportunity.
In his first speech to Parliament as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela spoke of the remarkable transition "from being one of the most deeply divided societies in the world to one so inspiringly united around the commitment to a common future." Mandela pointed to the "unanimous support from all parties for the programme of reconstruction and development and for the idea of nation-building." There had been a vindication of the belief that "there continued to exist a rich pool of goodwill and desire for peace and racial harmony in our country in spite of the decades of racial oppression, division and segregation."
Yet over the past three years the ANC has shifted from the rhetoric of nation-building to the politics of racial division. Since 1994 there has been a creeping reintroduction of race policies justified by the need for "corrective action". There has also been a deliberate attempt to polarise political debate and to shift the blame for the government's failure onto a disloyal minority. And so at the ANC national conference in Mafikeng three and a half years after his opening address to Parliament, Mandela delivered a different speech. He launched an attack on the press, on the "mainly white" opposition parties, on civil society and on the white minority in a speech that overstepped the bounds of legitimate political debate and entered the realm of racial demagoguery. There were, he said, "anti democratic forces of counter-revolution" whose purpose is to "maintain the privileges of the white minority". He then proceeded to name the Democratic Party as part of these "counter-revolutionary forces".
This report does not set out to exhaustively analyse the nature of race relations in this country. Rather, it is an attempt to document the ANC's programme of racial "transformation" and the consequences of that programme.
Our reasons for focusing on the ANC are:
- As the government and dominant party the ANC holds a position through which it can exercise a determinant influence over the future of race relations in South Africa.
- For reasons which this document makes clear, we believe the ANC policies and rhetoric are likely to lead to the deterioration of race relations in our country.
- In any analysis of race relations conducted by either the ANC or its Fellow Travellers, the ANC is likely to be represented as morally untouchable and the standard bearer for the forces of good against evil. The result is that the racial policies of the ANC and their destructive consequences have been glossed over or blame has been shifted to other parties .
Since 1994 there has been a creeping reintroduction of race policies in South African society, justified by the need for "corrective action". In the past year, however, there have been moves to systematise these policies, entrench and extend them to new areas of South African society: tertiary education, national sports teams, the public and private employment sectors are being compelled to reintroduce racial classification and racial discrimination.
This programme of re-racialisation is based on a complex foundation which includes the following:
- the assumption that opportunities are of necessity finite and need thus to be parcelled out on the basis of race;
- the assumption that demographic representativity equals racial equality;
- the electoral value for the ANC of separating the interests of blacks from those of the racial minorities;
In order to create an environment - a political climate - in which the ANC's programme of re-racialisation can be successful, the ANC has resorted to a number of strategies, which include:
- Sustaining a politically correct atmosphere in which acquiescence to the ANC's programme of re-racialisation becomes the morally correct, or easiest, thing to do.
- Employing, where possible, the rhetoric of non-racialism to cover the politics of racial division and classification. A prime example is the Employment Equity Bill, whose name rivals the Abolition of Passes Act and the Extension of Universities Act for legislative doublethink.
- Making assurances that racist legislation will only be temporary.
- Attempting to make being black synonymous with being ANC through, for instance, construing criticism of the ANC as criticism of blacks in general.
- Attempting to make opposition to the ANC synonymous with white racism and an attempt to hold onto "white apartheid privileges". The frequency and regularity with which the ANC fallaciously accuses its critics of racism illustrates this point.
- Attempting to shift the blame for government's failure onto a disloyal minority, as evidenced in the President's recent attack on opposition parties, NGOs and elements of the media, as well as the attempt to blame crime on a "third force" operating on behalf of people loyal to the old order.
- Employing the threat of "black racial explosion" to undermine opposition to the ANC's re-racialisation programme.
The Democratic Party believes that the ANC is taking South Africa down a road that will lead to increased racial tension, hostility and, possibly, even conflict. But it does not have to be this way.
We believe that a truly non-racial future requires policies that successfully create expanding opportunities for all, an attitude which welcomes critical opposition and difference, a determination to treat all citizens with equal respect irrespective of race and the will to stick to what is right even when that means giving up short term electoral gains.
3. THE ANC's PROGRAMME OF RACIAL "TRANSFORMATION"
3.1 The dangers of racial politics
The historian C. Vann Woodward, in a seminal work on the rise of segregation in the American South tells how up until 1898 South Carolina had resisted the Jim Crow car movement (which demanded the introduction of segregated railway carriages.) In that year, as supporters of the law were on the verge of victory, the Charleston News and Courier, the South's oldest newspaper, launched a final broadside against the Jim Crow proponents. The editor wrote that "as we got on fairly well for a third of a century, without such a measure, we can probably get on as well hereafter without it, and certainly so extreme a measure should not be adopted and enforced without added and urgent cause."
The editor then went on to outline what the absurd consequences could be once the principle of the thing had been conceded. "If there must be Jim Crow cars on the railroads, there should be Jim Crow cars on the street railways. Also on all passenger boats. If there are to be Jim Crow cars, moreover, there should be Jim Crow waiting saloons at all stations, and Jim Crow eating houses. There should be Jim Crow sections of the jury box, and a separate Jim Crow dock and witness stand in every court - and a Jim Crow Bible for colored witnesses to kiss. It would be advisable also to have a Jim Crow section in county auditors' and treasurers' offices of the accommodation of colored taxpayers. The two races are dreadfully mixed in these offices for weeks every year, especially about Christmas. There should be a Jim Crow department for making returns and paying for the privileges and blessings of citizenship. Perhaps the best plan would be, after all, to take the short cut to the general end, by establishing two or three Jim Crow counties at once, and turning them over to our colored citizens for their special and exclusive accommodation."
Yet as Vann Woodward points out, what the Editor regarded as an absurdity "became in a very short time a reality." With the exception of the Jim Crow witness stand and Jim Crow counties "all the improbable applications of the principle suggested by the editor in derision had been put into practice."
As this passage illustrates, just because race-based legislation is absurd is no check on its introduction. Once the principle has been accepted, alternatives are removed and the racial programme develops a certain logical momentum. Racial legislation is a very slippery slope: apartheid, American segregation and Nazi Germany all had very small beginnings. Once the system is established it starts to shape reality, and becomes part of the very nature of things.
3.2 The ANC leadership on racial transformation
In the ANC discussion document Nation Formation and Nation Building, Joel Netshitenzhe wrote that "in building a new South African nation what is required is a continuing battle to assert African hegemony in the context of a multi-cultural and non-racial society." The document endorsed the view that the "main content of the National Democratic Revolution should find expression in the leadership structures of the ANC, and indeed of the country as a whole. This is usually referred to as 'African leadership.'"
For Netshitenzhe the difficulty was in asserting "African hegemony" while making sure that a "critical mass" is not reached where "perceptions of dominance can take root."
"Representivity" is perhaps the ideal mechanism for achieving African hegemony while defusing minority opposition. It can use seemingly objective demographic criteria; need not be framed in explicitly racial terms; and the emphasis can be placed on the equality of results.
In an interview with The Economist Deputy President Thabo Mbeki stated that "Affirmative action isn't a philosophy. It's not an end in itself. It's an instrument to get a more equal society broadly representative of society."
With black South Africans constituting 76% of the population it is also involves the relentless retreat of minority rights in the face of majoritarian logic. Its stated aim is to achieve an acceptable level of racial exclusion for minorities; yet even that reservation will probably be discarded, as equal opportunity was discarded for affirmative action, affirmative action superseded by "broad representivity," and broad representivity is being superseded by "demographic representivity."
In perhaps the few institutions where "representivity" is of critical importance - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being an example - it is almost completely lacking. While these institutions are more or less "broadly representative" in terms of race they are constituted almost entirely by ANC-aligned South Africans. This highlights the political usefulness of the principle of demographic representivity: It can be used to exclude both non-ANC blacks and non-ANC whites. The end result is that institutions that have been transformed are invariably representative only of the political views of the ANC.
In a speech to the Black Editors Forum in September 1997 Deputy President Thabo Mbeki outlined what areas of South Africa needed racial transformation: The "bulk of [South Africa's] wealth" was owned by whites. The management of the economy is "predominantly in white hands" and whites "predominate in many of the professions." "The management of the public service also continue to be predominantly white." "The newspapers and magazines are predominantly white owned, edited by whites and largely written" by whites. The universities and technikons "still do not reflect the demographic composition of our population indicating that the new output of professionals and managers will continue to reflect our past."
"The homeless, the unemployed and the illiterate in our country are predominantly black."
With two exceptions his statement reflects which areas of South African life the ANC has targeted for racial "transformation." The one area which Mbeki does not mention, but where there are plans for interference is sport. And then there are "the homeless, the unemployed and the illiterate" who are still poor, still illiterate, still homeless and still black. For Mbeki's "important national objectives" of affirmative action, representivity and empowerment do little for the poorest South Africans.
3.3 Implementing the re-racialisation programme
Over the last year the ANC has begun to implement a systematic programme of racialising South African society and politics through both legislation and policy directives. This section exposes and outlines the contents of the ANC's racialisation programme focusing on the following:
- the Employment Equity Bill
- the public service
This is not an exhaustive list of examples. Yet it is enough to show the extent to which race is becoming the central factor in determining the nature of both legislation and policy.
3.4 The Employment Equity Bill
The stated objective of the Employment Equity Bill is to achieve "equality" in the workplace. This is, however, the equality of results and not of opportunity. The ultimate aim of the Bill is to achieve "demographic representivity" at all levels of the workforce: the Bill's preamble states that the legislation is there to "achieve a diverse workforce broadly representative" of South Africa's people, while the Bill's explanatory memorandum explains that one of the main reasons for the legislation is that there is "little correlation between the composition of the workforce at technical, professional and managerial levels and the overall demographics of our country".
This "equality" will be achieved through both the "elimination of unfair discrimination" and through the implementation of "positive measures." These are meant to ensure the "equitable representation" of black people, women and the disabled "in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce".
The Employment Equity Bill is the cornerstone of the ANC's programme of racial "transformation" - in this case the racial transfer of reserved job opportunities.
The Bill will apply to much of the private and public sectors: the provisions on the abolition of "unfair discrimination" apply to all employers, while those dealing with the implementation of "employment equity" apply to all "designated" employers - those with 50 or more employees.
To achieve its purposes the Bill reintroduces compulsory racial classification and criminalises non-racialism in the workplace. As such it is a Population Registration Act for the public and private sector. Yet the Bill does not stop there: it demands that designated employers implement racial preference policies, and that they set time-bound race targets for all levels of their work force. The discretion for determining these numerical goals lies partially with the employer but predominantly with the Minister of Labour. The Bill stops just short of legislating a racial quota in any single clause (and indeed there is a clause saying the Bill does not require quotas) but it is weighted in such a manner that this is clearly the intention.
As an exercise in social engineering, the Bill necessarily makes provision for an extensive bureaucracy whose task will be to implement, monitor and enforce the Bill.
Eliminating Unfair Discrimination
Chapter II of the Bill deals with the elimination of "unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice." Accordingly, all employers are required to "promote equal opportunity" through the elimination of "unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice". The Bill prohibits direct or indirect "unfair discrimination" on 19 different grounds including race, gender, age, disability, language, ethnic or social origin. "Unfair discrimination" includes racial or sexual harassment, which will be defined by the Department in a Code of Practice.
The onus of proof is placed on the employer to establish that discrimination on any of the 19 grounds is fair. The South African Institute of Race Relations points out that in American law (on which much of this Chapter is based) "'under-representation' of blacks, women and the disabled at any level in the workforce is well recognised as providing proof of 'indirect discrimination'". While the South African courts may not interpret the Bill this way it is certainly consistent with the philosophy behind the Bill.
What the Chapter does not do, however, is to provide equal protection for all. The explanatory memorandum of the Bill states that "it will not be unfair to discriminate for purposes of affirmative action". Section 5 states that "It is not unfair discrimination... to take any positive measure consistent with this Act". It will be unfair to discriminate against blacks in favour of non-blacks, but "fair" to discriminate against non-blacks in favour of blacks for the purposes of racial preferences.
Implementing "Employment Equity"
Chapter III of the Bill applies to all employers who have 50 or more employees. The employer is required to follow a four-step process when introducing "employment equity". He must:
- Consult with his employees.
- Conduct an analysis to determine the racial profile of the workforce.
- Prepare an employment equity plan.
- Submit the plan as well as an annual report on its implementation to the Director General of Labour.
Consulting with employees
The employer is required to take "reasonable steps to consult and attempt to reach agreement" with a workplace forum, or with any registered trade union and employee representatives. The employer must consult on issues concerning the conduction of the analysis, the preparation and implementation of the employment equity plan and the report to the Director General.
Analysing the racial profile of the workforce
The employer is required to conduct an analysis of "employment policies, practices, procedures and the working environment" to identify "employment barriers" which adversely affect black people, women and the disabled.
As part of this analysis the employer must racially classify his workforce (How he does so will be set out in a Code of Good Practice drawn up by the Minister) and submit to the Department of Labour a racial breakdown of the workforce within each occupational category and level.
Drawing up an "employment equity plan"
The employer is then required to prepare an employment equity plan. This must outline what "employment barriers" are to be removed. Where the race audit has identified "under-representation" the employer must state the time-bound racial targets that have been set to achieve representivity and the strategies that will be employed to achieve them, "including preferential treatment to appoint and promote suitably qualified people from designated groups to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels of the workforce". Preferential measures to "retain, train and develop" blacks, women and the disabled must also be set in place.
The employer must then submit the report to the Director- General and an annual report on the implementation of the plan.
The Employment Equity Bill is an enabling Act which gives the Minister the power to issue regulations on the conduct of the analysis and on how employers should racially classify their staff. The "numerical goals" and the factors to be taken into account when determining what they should be will be included in a Code of Good Practice. This Code will be issued after consultation with the newly constituted Employment Equity Commission. (Legally, he is free to ignore their advice.)
The Bill states that the Act must be interpreted taking into account "any relevant code of good practice issued in terms of this Act". The Code of Good Practice shifts the onus onto the employer-if, for example, the employer fails to meet the numerical goals set out in the Code he will have to justify why he failed to achieve them. (Other issues that will be subject to codes include: the preparation of the plans, advertising, recruitment procedures and selection criteria, and sexual and racial harassment.)
Enforcement And Monitoring
According to the Central Statistical Services there are approximately 10 000 employers with 50 employees or more. It is inevitable then that the monitoring and enforcement of the Bill will require a large bureaucracy.
The public sector
The Labour Department has made the claim that this bill is "self-regulating". Even if this was true, it is by no means benign. Each public company is required to publish a summary of its report in its annual financial statements and every state employer must table the information contained in the report in Parliament. The employer is required to display the provisions of the Act, the latest report and any other information prescribed by the Minister. The intention is clearly that state employers who are failing to implement an acceptable level of racial exclusion of minorities will come under extreme political pressure in Parliament.
The private sector
In the private sector similar requirements for disclosure will encourage racial mobilisation - in the workplace and in public - against an employer who fails to implement the required racial targets.
Employees who try to enforce the "rights" granted to them under the act, or who alert the authorities to a contravention of the act are protected from "victimisation or discrimination". In addition, a great deal of the monitoring and enforcement of the Bill (as well as the agitation for racial preferences) is intended to be provided by the trade unions and employees. The explanatory memorandum of the Bill states that "trade unions have a significant role to play in the consultation process preceding the development of employment equity plans. In addition, the supervisory and monitoring role of the Department of Labour is reinforced". Thus trade unions will be expected to push for "equitable representation" in negotiations and if that is insufficient (or if the employer fails to carry out the proper procedure) they, or any other employee, can declare a dispute and take the issue to the CCMA.
Key areas that will require monitoring by employees will be racial classification and the promotion of "undesignated minorities" in contravention of codes of good practice. If someone is misclassified or attempts to pass as coloured instead of white, or as black instead of coloured, the trade unions will be expected to inform the Department of the contravention and a labour inspector will be dispatched, presumably with pencil in hand.
Any dispute that arises in the workplace over the drawing up or implementation of the plan can be referred to the CCMA for conciliation or arbitration. The Labour Court is the court of final appeal for all matters relating to the Act and has the power to impose fines for any contravention. These vary between R500 000 for a first offence and R900 000 for a fourth offence (they can also be altered by ministerial decree.)
When applying for contracts or state tenders the employer must request a certificate of compliance from the Minister and submit it to the State Tender Board. If the Minister refuses to grant such a certificate the employer cannot bid for a contract. If the employer fails to comply with the Act that would constitute "sufficient ground" for the cancellation of any agreement already in place.
The enforcement of chapter III is also the responsibility of the Department of Labour. Labour inspectors have the power to enter and inspect a workplace and to question employees and employers. If the inspector has "reasonable grounds" to believe the employer is not complying with the Act he can issue a compliance order. The employer can appeal this to the Director-General and if that fails to the Labour Court.
The "review" procedure
The Director-General is given the power to undertake a "review" of an employer. In conducting what is in effect a racial inquisition the Director-General can request a meeting with both employers and employees and "any other person who may have information relevant to the review". The DG can also request an employer to submit "any book, record, correspondence, document or information that the Director-General believes could reasonably be relevant to the review of the employer's compliance" with the Act.
In assessing whether the employer is implementing "employment equity" the Director General must take into account the affirmative action measures put in place, preferential training and development policies implemented, the introduction of "diversity" measures and the elimination of "employment barriers". He must also take into account the extent to which blacks, women and the disabled are "equitably represented". (What constitutes "equitable representation" will be set out in a Code of Good Practice.)
Section 40 lists 5 criteria which are relevant in determining equitable representation. These are: national demographics, the pool of suitably qualified blacks, women and disabled people from which the employer can reasonably expect to appoint or promote employees, regional demographics, economic and financial factors relevant to the sector in which the employer is operating, the present and anticipated financial circumstances of the employer.
Once the inquisition is complete the DG may approve the "employment equity" plan or make a recommendation outlining the steps which the employer must take and the time period in which this must be done. If the employer fails to comply with this recommendation the Director General may refer the matter to the Labour Court.
Implications for the legal system
To enforce the provisions of the Employment Equity Bill an almost Kafkaesque legal system is put in place. Employers are required to prove that they are not discriminating against the racial majority in Chapter II, and then required to prove that they are discriminating against minorities in favour of that majority in Chapter III. Because the onus of proof is shifted onto the employer in both Chapter II and III once they have been accused, they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.
Any dispute in the workplace over unfair discrimination or a failure to implement "not unfair" discrimination goes before the CCMA for conciliation and, failing that, to arbitration. If an employer is accused by a Labour Inspector of not implementing "employment equity" he has to prove his innocence first to the Director General, and failing that to the Labour Court. If the DG launches an inquisition and makes a finding against the employer, the employer is once again guilty until he can prove himself innocent. The only place where the employer can gain access to due process and a fair trial is in the Labour Court. Even here the onus of proof is still on the employer to explain why he did not "unfairly discriminate" or why he failed to implement enough "not unfair" discrimination to achieve the numerical goals set out in the Code of Good Practice. For the smaller employer this is all likely to be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
- The Employment Equity Bill effectively criminalises non-racialism or colour-blindness: any employer who fails to racially classify his employees or to differentiate between them on the basis of race is, according to this law, committing a serious crime.
- The rights and protections against unfair discrimination in Chapter II are in effect denied to the racial minorities subjected to the enforced racial discrimination of Chapter III. Placing the emphasis on words such as "positive measures" and "affirmative action" when defining what is "fair discrimination" is reminiscent of the distinction between negative and "positive" apartheid. Race-based affirmative action is just the flip side of racial discrimination: for every person being racially discriminated against there is someone else being "affirmed".
- The Bill also seeks to place the weight of the law behind black racial agitation in the workplace. Advancement will be achieved not through individual merit but through racial mobilisation.
- Whatever the level of the employment equity targets, for business to meet them will require the almost total exclusion of the "undesignated" minority in appointments and promotions. This will hit the younger generation the hardest. If there is one group that will be relatively unaffected it will be the older generation, which is perhaps why there has been so little opposition from the "Captains of Industry".
Advertisements such as this one for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry are likely to become compulsory:
"The Department... is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer (sic). The intention is to promote representivity in the Public Service through the filling of these positions and persons whose transfer/promotion/appointment will promote representivity will receive preference... If no suitable candidates from the unrepresented groups can be recruited, candidates from the represented groups will be considered".
3.5 Racial "Transformation" In The Public Sector
The area where the ANC's programme of racial "transformation" is perhaps furthest advanced is in the Public Service. According to the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Zola Skweyiya, "In 1994 black people accounted for only 6% of the management echelon of the public service. In 1997, they accounted for 32% in national departments. In provincial administrations, black people are now 66% according to the statistics (September 1997)".
This tendency to measure the "transformation" of the Public Service primarily through the degree to which it is "demographically representative" rather than through its ability to deliver to poorer communities has created some perverse incentives. These include the granting of large severance packages to some of the most experienced public servants and (particularly in the provincial departments) through the incorporation of homeland civil service jobs.
The Draft White Paper on Affirmative Action in the Public Service states that the racial targets set out in the White Paper on Transformation of the Public Service have not been reached: only 38% of management level employees are black when the target says there should be 50% by 1999. The percentage of women recruited to middle and senior management level is only 11% when the target says there should 38% by 1999.
To fill this gap the draft White Paper on Affirmative Action introduces a far more systematic and strident form of racial preference policy: systematic racial classification is being introduced and the targets made into de-facto quotas. Hence the failure of the government to reach its arbitrary targets (along with the often disastrous consequence of trying to achieve them) does not result in the reconsideration of the targets, but rather the introduction of a more rigid form of racial preference policy.
The contents of the Affirmative Action plan
The aim of the Draft White Paper on Affirmative Action in the Public Service is to achieve "the numeric targets set out in the White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service". The Affirmative Action White Paper sets out various minimum mandatory requirements:
- "The broad numeric targets set out in the White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service for each of the three target groups [blacks, women and the disabled] must be translated into time-bound targets for each of the Department's main occupational groups".
- Each Department in the Public Service is required to racially classify their workforce and "maintain accurate statistics" on: the racial breakdown of the department by rank and occupational class, the number of blacks, women and disabled who participated in the training and development programmes provided, the racial breakdown of recruitments and promotions over the past 12 months and the occupational groups and ranks to which these appointments were made.
- Each department is also required to conduct a review of management practices "to determine not only whether these constitute or contain barriers to members of the three target groups, but also what changes are required to promote their advancement".
- An affirmative action plan must be prepared setting out the affirmative action objectives and time-bound targets for their achievement, who will be responsible, what resources will be allocated etc.
- The development and implementation of the plan should be "one of the criteria against which the Director-General's or Head of Department's performance is assessed, and this should be included in performance contracts agreed when then Public Service Laws Amendment Act comes into force".
- The implementation of affirmative action would also be one of the key criteria for measuring the performance of Line Managers and Heads of Human Resources.
- National and provincial departments will be required to monitor progress and publish racial audits in their annual reports.
- Affirmative action will be monitored by the Public Service Commission and the Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee will hold national departments and provincial administrations to account for their performance in implementing affirmative action policies.
Some consequences of the ANC approach
In one of the more notorious cases of blanket racial discrimination in the Public Service, 30 state attorneys took the Minister of Justice to court when he refused to allow them to be considered for senior positions because they were classified white. The court overturned the Minister's decision and the matter is now on appeal.
Following this case the ANC in the Public Service Committee introduced an amendment to the Public Service Act to facilitate race-based affirmative action. In proposing the amendment the ANC MP Maria Rantho was quoted as saying that " if the words 'race, gender and disability' were not added to the clause which called for a public service 'broadly representative of the South African people' it could be open to various interpretations.' She said it was imperative to get rid of merit as the overriding principle in the appointment of public servants".
Apart from being another example of the government changing the law in the face of a court decision it disliked, this action removed a key safeguard against racial discrimination for racial minorities in the Public Service. The general population is left one step closer to a Public Service orientated towards political patronage rather than delivery.
The abandonment of the (recently introduced) merit principle to facilitate transformation has allows the ANC to make appointments on the basis of political allegiance. By doing so the distinction between party and state has become blurred and at time indistinguishable.
Other perverse results of this infatuation with racial bean counting are:
- Posts in the Public Service left vacant because the only qualified people to fill them are white.
- Experienced public servants given huge severance packages and then re-employed as consultants.
- Inexperienced people are promoted to high positions.
- In many cases the departure of senior civil servants has lead to a breakdown in proper training for those just entering the system.
- There has also been a breakdown in proper financial management due to the departure of skilled personnel.
- The most damning indictment of this "transformation" is the fact that many of the poorest areas of the country still lack a functioning civil service.
There is surely no better way for the ANC government to live up to its election commitment to provide "a better life for all" than through a huge improvement in the quantity and quality of service delivery to the citizens of South Africa. Yet there is no doubt that the racial polices it pursues in the civil service run counter to this noble end. In its haste to change the face of service delivery the ANC has failed to change the nature of that delivery for the better. Indeed in some instances it is changing for the worse - surely the most searing indictment possible for the government which was supposed to rid us of the legacy of apartheid.
3.6 Racial "Transformation" in Higher Education
One of the key elements of the ANC's programme of racial transformation is the implementation of "demographic representivity" in tertiary education. Staff and students at tertiary education institutions will be racially classified and racial preferences introduced. Although the White Paper on Transforming Higher Education states that this will be achieved through targets, where this programme is currently being implemented it is being done through quotas.
The plan for education
- The Education Department states that the "composition of the student body in higher education must progressively reflect the demographic realities of the broader society". This will be achieved through the "targeted redistribution of the public subsidy to higher education". The "relative proportion used to support able but disadvantaged students" will be increased.
- According to the White Paper, institutions will have to "develop their own race and gender equity goals and plans for achieving them, using indicative goals for distributing publicly subsidised places rather than firm quotas". However, the Education Department now states that the race targets and the time frames for achieving them "will be determined by the national plan on higher education which will be developed by the Department after consultation with the [newly constituted] Council for Higher Education". (The Department is free to ignore the advice of the Council.) It is likely that the racial and gender targets will ultimately be set by politicians and political imperatives.
- The White Paper states that "Ensuring equity of access must be complemented by a concern for equity of outcomes... public funds earmarked for achieving redress and equity must be linked to measurable progress toward improving quality and reducing the high drop-out and repetition rates". The logical conclusion of this policy is that students should not only be accepted on the basis of race but should be passed on that basis as well.
- The Health Department has already demanded that "Faculties of Health Sciences must reach an acceptable target by the year 1999, so that 75% of the first year intake will consist of Black students. The view of the Department of Health is that the first year intake in 1999 should be demographically representative".
- The White Paper states that between 1998 and 2000 the Education Ministry will conduct an racial audit of higher education institutions: Institutions will be required to produce (among other information): A profile of staff by post levels and qualifications, age, race and gender; as well as a profile of student enrolments by race, gender and educational backgrounds.
- The White Paper states that "unlike the changing student profile, especially in undergraduate programmes, the composition of staff in higher education fails to reflect demographic realities". In order to address these "stark-race and gender imbalances in the demographic composition of researchers in Higher Education, research councils, and private sector research establishments". The Ministry advocates "targets and performance indicators to achieve redress by developing a more representative research community". Further, the "access of black and women students to masters, doctoral and post doctoral programmes" should be prioritised.
- In line with the White Paper the Human Sciences Research Council has implemented a rigid quota system in the scholarships it grants to Honours and Masters students. On the application forms for the Centre for Scientific Development Scholarships applicants are required to classify themselves according to "historical designations" i.e. Black, Coloured, Asian and White.
- The form states that this is in order "for the CSD to invest in and monitor redress". "Redress" takes the form of a quota system: The CSD states that for Honours studies "500 Scholarships per year are available for full-time studies at South African Universities. Scholarship awards are in line with the CSD's commitment to redress and therefore the division is as follows: 350 scholarships are available to black, Asian and coloured students; 150 scholarships available to white students".
- According to the CSD "the awarding of a scholarship for full-time Honours degree studies will be considered if: black, Asian and coloured applicants obtained at least 60% and white applicants obtained at least 75%".
- For Masters degrees there are 400 scholarships available for those classified black, coloured and Indian and 200 for those classified as white.
- Supervisors applying for Masters and Doctoral scholarships for their students are allowed three - 2 black and one white.
- The implementation of racial quotas to exclude minority students from higher education institutions is not only grossly discriminatory but, as with most of the parts of the ANC's race project, it is the non-black youth who will be worst affected. These individuals are being discriminated against because people with a similar racial phenotype benefited from racial preferences in the past.
- With the funding crunch in higher education there are no new posts being created therefore the only way new posts will be opened up is through natural attrition. To achieve these targets would involve the almost total exclusion of non-black applicants for a long period of time.
- The ANC's racial programme also uses race rather than class to define "disadvantage". Thus, a son of a Professor who is classified black would only need 60% to apply for a Honours scholarship, but a white person from a working class background would have to get 75%.
- Students from the same suburb, same school and same class could thus face vastly divergent requirements for getting into university.
The government clearly views "transformation" as the use of racially discriminatory policies, legislation and funding to make Universities "demographically representative". All the evidence suggests it is ignoring a better and more sustainable method: sorting out the mess in secondary schools.
It is particularly unfair to make certain racial categories of tertiary students pay for the failure of the government to provide South Africa's children with quality primary and secondary education.
Finally, the demand for immediate "demographic representivity" is in direct contradiction with the need to provide proper academic and financial support for students from poor schools, primarily because support programmes constitute a large financial burden on tertiary institutions.
3.7 Race And Sport
In the National Assembly in October 1997 the Minister of Sport and Recreation stated that "There is going to be interference from the Government in every sphere of life and activity in South Africa, including sport. I repeat, there is going to be interference in sport".
The situation in sport
- In explaining the need for a Sports Bill that would give the Sports Ministry control over sport in South Africa, the Director-General of Sport and Recreation Mtobi Tyamzashe said that it was a "dilemma" that the department had no power over sporting bodies, if their teams, for example "were not representative". "It is nothing draconian. The department can call on no authority to intervene. This is the dilemma. If a team is not representative then the sporting body can just say it is sorry. We rely just on goodwill".
- Under the particular draft of the Sports Bill that the Democratic Party has in its possession "No funding shall be provided to National Federations where no development competition exists or where teams willingfully to exclude (sic) participation at the top level of sport from the disadvantaged groups".
- There has been a dispute between the Ministry and the National Sports Council over the power of the Minister relative to the proposed Sport Commission. There is agreement, however, that the NSC will form the backbone of the new Sports Commission and that there should be intervention in sport to make provincial and national teams "representative".
- In July 1997 the National Sports Council announced that the policy document "Towards an affirmative action policy in sport" had been adopted for implementation by the National Federations. The Federations would be expected to "set realistic targets for implementation over the short term and submit their strategies as part of their development plans to the NSC for approval". To achieve these "realistic targets" the National Federations are required to gerrymander their elections, set aside certain staff posts for "affirmative action" groups and introduce a rigid quota system for selectors, officials and athletes.
- The document "Towards an affirmative action policy in sport" states that the "executive or board of any sports organisation must reflect representivity" of blacks, women and the disabled. This must be done through the manipulation of the electoral process. "Sports organisations need to prescribe in the nomination lists... the required number of people from the affirmative action groups". Then during the election process "the organisation must ensure through the electoral officer that no less than 40% of the total number of elected office bearers come from the affirmative action groups".
- When it comes to staff employment and "in order to change the complexion of the office" the organisation must "designate certain posts as affirmative action posts and these must be advertised as such". As the document comments "It is important that the office outlook of the sports organisations must reflect their membership and the people they are trying to attract to the sport".
- The National Federations are required by the policy to introduce "development programmes" that will involve the "upliftment of officials [managers, coaches and administrators] in order to prepare them to take responsible positions within a defined period of time". As part of this process sports organisations which have "white national officials, these officials must at all time be deputised by black people, as part of their training in order to ensure that they will be ready to take such positions when required".
- Furthermore, a quota must be implemented for officials. "In the representative teams (from regional to national level) there must at all times be a 50% representation of affirmative action groups".
- When it comes to the athletes themselves the policy states that "Representative teams at all levels need to reflect the demographics of the country". Thus, sports teams must be selected according to a quota system: "Sports organisations' representative teams must at all time and at all levels have at least 40% representation with an escalating scale from senior to junior teams (i.e. there should be bigger representation of black and women athletes in junior teams.)"
- The National Executive of the NSC was granted the power by a constitutional amendment to "intervene and undertake an investigation into the affairs of a member due to sufficient evidence of ... the continuation of institutionalised practices of discrimination based on race or sex". This presumably means a failure to enforce race and gender quotas.
- According to Qondisa Ngwenya, Manager of Development at the NSC, the policy is to be put in place over three years. National Federations are in the process of adopting affirmative action policies which will be submitted to the NSC for approval. At the under-12, under-13 level the 40% quota "is likely to be implemented as is - lock, stock and barrel". For the more senior teams there is more leeway.
- National Federations taking teams to international tournaments have to apply to the NSC for national colours. They are required to submit the names of the participants as well as a racial breakdown of the athletes and officials. If the NSC is not satisfied that the team is "reflective of demography" then they will be refused national colours.
It is inevitable that when a racial quota system is implemented people are excluded on the basis of race. In one instance two athletes were excluded from the team to travel to Namibia to attend a Southern African athletics meeting on the basis of their race. Their times should have qualified them but black athletes (with worse times) were given preference so that the NSC quota could be met.
It is also somewhat difficult to reconcile "redress" with the imposition of racial quotas (and racial classification) on twelve and thirteen year olds (children who were 4 years old in 1990).
4. CREATING AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE ANC's RACIAL AGENDA
There is no doubt that the ANC is consciously creating a political climate to smooth the passage of its re-racialisation process. This chapter describes some of the ways in which it does this.
4.2 The general atmosphere: Political correctness and intimidation
For Vann Woodward the "The [American] South's adoption of extreme racism was due not so much to a conversion as it was to a relaxation of the opposition. All the elements of fear, jealousy, proscription, hatred, fanaticism had long been present, as they are present in various degrees of intensity in any society".
One of the striking features of the new South Africa is that there has been so little opposition to the reintroduction of racial classification and discrimination. In 1957 the English speaking universities opposed the Extension of University Education Act, which abolished integrated higher education on the basis that it violated university autonomy. Marches were held, speeches made and when, in the 1980s, the then Minister of Education stated that he wished to integrate higher education on the basis of racial quotas, he was attacked and ridiculed on the basis that Universities should be free to select their own students.
In 1997 the Health Department announced that it wanted the 1999 first year intake of medical schools to be "demographically representative" - a quota of 76% for black students, 13% for whites, 9% for coloureds and 2% for Indians must be implemented. There have been no marches in protest, no speeches, no great stands made on principle. Indeed, the Health Department states that "The majority [of medical schools] are not averse to the proposition". The furthest (some of) the Universities go is to say that there "are not enough suitably qualified black students". There is no mention of the principle of university autonomy that is being violated, no opposition to the extreme racial discrimination and exclusion that these quotas entail.
Part of the reason for this lack of opposition lies with white guilt. There is a tendency among some of the white older generation, safely ensconced in senior positions, to support or acquiesce in racial discrimination against non-black youth. These are people who think that affirmative action is a wonderful idea as long as it is not they who are affected.
Then there are those who seek to appease the ANC in the hope of gaining some personal advantage or who have been intimidated by the ruling party. Although the ANC's programme of racial "transformation" is at heart an Africanist project, it is being eagerly implemented by a multi-racial coalition of racial bigots, carpetbaggers, ideologues and guilters. However, most of the credit for the smooth implementation of the programme must go to the extremely clever way in which the ANC has diffused minority opposition.
The ANC has been careful to implement the racial programme incrementally. It has used small steps to remove minority protections and introduce racial classification and discrimination. As society adapts and conforms to each piece of racial policy, so a new piece can be introduced taking the programme one step further. For racial minorities the temperature is turned up gradually, and never so sharply that it provokes a reaction. When minorities have had their protections removed and the structure of racial domination put in place, they will be too weak to do anything.
4.3 Mobilising the rhetoric of non-racialism in the pursuit of racial politics
During the Constitutional negotiations the ANC made the claim that South Africa was a common society where the outcome of elections would be uncertain and not be predetermined by racial or ethnic loyalties. It also made the claim that it was a non-racial organisation. The ANC used these two claims to exclude minority protections such as federalism and power-sharing. Individual centred protections against racial discrimination (for minorities) were watered down through affirmative action clauses. After all, if the ANC was a non-racial organisation and South Africa a common society, where was the need for protections for minorities?
Then in the 1994 elections the black and white populations voted almost entirely for historically black and white parties respectively. It was only within the coloured and Indian population that there was a anything like a contest for votes by the NP and the ANC.
Since 1996 the ANC's rhetoric of non-racialism has become more and more hollow. It has increasingly resorted to playing the race card to consolidate its hegemony over the black population and prevent the emergence of a common society that would facilitate the emergence of a cross-racial coalition that could challenge it for power. A glaringly obvious conclusion is that the ANC used the rhetoric of "non-racialism" and reconciliation as big lies, primarily to diffuse any resistance by minorities until it had consolidated power.
A good case study of how the ANC implements a piece of racial legislation while undermining opposition is the Employment Equity Bill. In introducing the Bill Tito Mboweni stated that the purpose of the Bill was to bury "the industrial colour bar in practice, not just in our constitution... that when it comes to hiring, training and promotion, we want a fair deal for all workers".
Justifying the need for the Bill, Mboweni stated that "We cannot compete in the global economy unless we draw on all the skills of all our people". He then made "no apology for the fact that this Bill favours those previously disadvantaged... The days of job reservation are now over". Mboweni was describing a Bill that enforces racial discrimination in the workplace. It is a Bill which will set out race targets which, if they are to be met, will entail job reservation for the racial majority and the almost complete exclusion of non-black youth from promotion or appointments, thus establishing a de facto colour bar in the workforce. Well educated and talented South Africans will be faced with the choice of trying to join a local company where, if appointed, the law demands that they be treated like second class citizens. Or they can go overseas.
Yet Mboweni was certainly being sincere (and self righteous) - which illustrates the doublethink behind the ANC’s racial programme. George Orwell described doublethink as the “power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s own mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” It is doublethink which enables the ANC to pursue policies of racial discrimination while claiming the moral high ground of being non-racial. It enables Mboweni to introduce a Bill which outlaws “unfair” discrimination (discrimination against blacks) and makes discrimination against non-blacks compulsory. Yet if someone had heard Mboweni’s speech, without reading the Bill (a fundamentally dishonest piece of legislation in itself) they would have been lead to believe that the purpose of the Bill was to introduce equality into the workplace and abolish discrimination. As Orwell points out, doublethink is necessary for “the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty.”
Thus a key part of implementing the racial programme involves mobilising the rhetoric of non-racialism. This involves the ANC maintaining an extremely ambiguous stance on issues of non-racialism and Africanism. The more powerful they become the less they need to maintain this ambiguity. They can then discard the non-racial assurances and put the stress on racial intimidation as Mbeki has been doing since 1994. The key is to give minorities as many reasons as possible not to oppose racial transformation. The measures are introduced incrementally, they affect different sectors of society in turn, they affect the youth (who are weaker) but not the older who are in positions of power. The ANC promises that the measures are only temporary, and they are usually couched in non-racial assurances. A good rule of thumb is that the more racist the speech or policy the greater the pronunciations of non-racialism and de-racialisation. The original meaning of the word “non-racial” has become warped in the process. It is reaching a point where the words “non-racialism” and “Africanism” will be interchangeable.
4.4 The promise that racial discrimination will be temporary
Another means of diffusing opposition is by making the claim that a policy is just a temporary measure. The press release announcing the launch of the Employment Equity Bill states that “We do not see affirmative action as a permanent feature of our labour market. That is why the Bill provides for a comprehensive review of compliance with its objectives and progress towards employment equity within seven years after the Bill becomes law.”[i]
However, the constitution does not impose a time limit for racial preference measures and nor does this Bill. It states that “we are not so naive as to think that so many centuries of oppression and discrimination can be eliminated in seven years.”[ii] There has been no country that has voluntarily dismantled affirmative action measures. To monitor and enforce “employment equity” will require a large bureaucracy to enforce, which will be unwilling to dissolve itself. The few beneficiaries of this legislation will not easily sacrifice the racial privilege they are granted.
The Bill itself does not cover some of the most contentious areas such as how the workforce must be racially classified or what the factors will be in determining the numerical goals. It is the minister who will determine these in Codes of Good Practice. It costs him nothing to give warm assurances that he will use this power carefully and that discrimination will not be too severe. Whatever the first Codes say, they can always be altered. In a similar way, when the Group Areas Act was about to be passed the relevant Minister did not announce that he would use the law to bulldoze District Six.
4.5 Making the terms “black” and “ANC” synonymous
Thabo Mbeki has a disconcerting tendency to see himself as the spokesman for the black population. A typical Mbeki statement is “Blacks are aware that we cannot change everything from one day to another.”
Mbeki is thus not trying to attract voters with his policies or by appealing to their interests, rather, his role is to interpret the collective will of a monolithic black (“African”) nation and speak on their behalf. Mbeki also tends to view any criticism of ANC or racial preferences as an attack on the abilities of blacks. In April 1996 Mbeki stated that “There seems to be an accusation that it cannot be that a majority black government can properly manage an economy as sophisticated as ours. After all, look at the rest of Africa!”[iii]
This was a theme elaborated in his speech to Parliament in June 1997 when Mbeki attacked critics of Affirmative Action “We are not far from the day when diplomatic language will slip and the point will be made that ‘the Bantus are not yet ready to govern.’”[iv]
In his Mafikeng speech Mandela stated that “the Prophets of Doom…adhere to the openly racist position that a South Africa led by the African National Congress and no longer under white minority rule, will, inevitably sink into failure and disaster.”[v]
This criticism is not based on what people actually say but on the sinister motivations behind that criticism. Thus any criticism of the ANC is an attack on the ability of “black” people to govern and therefore “racist.”
4.6 Making white synonymous with racism and protecting white privilege
The ANC has over the past year made a concerted effort to smear its political opponents as “apartheid spies” or “racists” on the most specious of grounds. More importantly there has been an attempt to racialise the terms of debate in South Africa, and by doing so to marginalise opposition parties and any alternative vision of South Africa’s future in the eyes of the black majority.
The most crude form of this attack is the attempt to smear opposition leaders as racist. When Tony Leon criticised the award of the Order of Good Hope to Libyan dictator Muammar Ghadaffi the ANC released a press statement accusing Leon of “increasingly showing his true colours, that of a white racist South African.”[vi]
After the award of the Order of Good Hope to another financial backer of the ANC, President Suharto of Indonesia, President Mandela accused the DP of racism and the disregard for South Africa’s divided past. Parks Mankahlana stated that “the president is particularly concerned that all the leaders, whose decoration is being objected to, are of a racial background that is different from that of South Africa’s political parties.”[vii]
Having framed any criticism of the government as racist the ANC then proceeds to marginalise the minority opposition parties as supporters as “white privilege.” In his Mafikeng speech Mandela stated that “the NP and DP are engaged in a desperate struggle to out-compete each other in a race which they believe will be won by whoever convinces the white minority that they believe will be won by whoever convinces the white minority that they are the most reliable and best defenders of white privilege.”[viii]
What exactly this “white privilege” is, is never explained or spelt out. What we have instead is truth through repetition—if the accusation is repeated often enough it becomes an axiom. If the accused wish to refute these allegations they would first have to elaborate all the unstated assumptions and then construct the argument against themselves. As the American economist Thomas Sowell has written “demagoguery flourishes when something can be said in a few catchy words that would take volumes to disprove.”[ix]
For the ANC to play the race card is not just a short term tactic with short term consequences. To mobilise around race is an attempt to tap into all the fears, resentments and suspicions built up under apartheid. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the ANC’s racial ideology is the growing tendency to blame minorities for the government’s failure to deliver on its election promises.
For Thabo Mbeki, all South Africa’s problems can be traced back to the day in which white people first arrived in this country: “Ours is a society whose constitutional and sociopolitical ills date back to 1652, the beginning of the long history of colonisation over the indigenous people of our country.”[x] This was a theme picked up in Mandela’s Mafikeng speech when he stated that “all elements of our society reflect and are characterised by the three hundred years of the colonial and apartheid domination of our country.”[xi]
The consequence is that the country is “essentially structured in a manner which denies us the possibility to achieve the goal of creating a new people-centered society.” With the very structure of society militating against change there is a need to “transform our country, fundamentally.”[xii]
Yet “three hundred years of the colonial and apartheid domination” is such a vague and abstract concept that it applies to everything and to nothing. When it comes to identifying and addressing the concrete problems facing South Africa it is meaningless. This is perhaps the reason why the ANC and Mr. Mbeki in particular, uses it so often. If it is the very structure of society that is militating against change then the ANC is given a blank cheque to pursue racial and social engineering as it seems fit. The ANC can also avoid responsibility for the failure of its policies and for the consequences of “transformation.”
The first attempt to find a scapegoat for the failure of the government was the attempt to pin crime on disloyal minority within the security establishment - a “Third Force” that was using crime to undermine South Africa’s democracy. No substantial evidence has ever been provided to support his allegation.
The “Third Force” allegations have rapidly degenerated into an attempt to blame the white minority for the government’s failure to deliver. In his Mafikeng speech Mandela stated that the governments programme was being continuously obstructed and subverted by a disloyal minority who wished to hang onto “apartheid privileges.”
For Mandela the media and the “mainly white” opposition parties “have been most vigorous in their opposition, whenever legislative and executive measures have been introduced, seeking the end of the racial disparities which continue to characterise our society.”[xiii]
In the Public Service “transformation” has been resisted by “representatives of the old order using all means in their possession to ensure that they remain in dominant positions.”[xiv]
In the country as a whole there has been an attempt to set up a “counter-revolutionary network” which would seek to destabilise the country. This programme would include the weakening of the ANC, “the use of crime to make the country ungovernable”, the subversion of the economy; and the erosion of public confidence.[xv]
Further, this network which is based “on those in the public administration and others in other sectors of our society who have not accepted the reality of majority rule, is capable of carrying out very disruptive actions.”
Thus the disarray in the Public Service is not the result of the disastrous consequences of “transformation” it is the result of resistance to “transformation.” Crime, the poor economy and a loss of confidence in the government, is not due to the cronyism, corruption or misguided policies of the ANC but rather the work of a sinister counter-revolutionary network. There is never any evidence provided to back up these claims. They have about as much truth as the claim that the Jews lost Germany the First World War.
The threat of a racial explosion
In an interview with The Economist Mbeki stated that unless the task of transformation is pursued there can be no reconciliation. “It might look so to people who benefited from apartheid–everybody’s forgiven us, nobody’s after nationalising our swimming pools. It isn’t, because you have the anger that would be boiling among the black people.”[xvi]
In an interview with Die Burger at about the same time Mbeki said that there would be a “rasse-opstand” in three to five years if whites did not make certain voluntary sacrifices in the interests of stability.[xvii]
On the face of it this statement is absurd. South Africa is a democracy and the people should be able to kick out any government that they believe is not delivering. Yet when you look at the assumptions behind Mbeki’s statement it acquires a certain sinister logic. What Mbeki is really saying is that if the government fails to deliver to the poor or give blacks a share of the economy it is the fault of the whites. And whites will be punished for it.
In the Die Burger interview he cited the example of Malaysia where there were race riots directed at a wealthier Chinese minority in 1970 which persuaded that minority to accede to a systematic form of affirmative action for the Malay majority.[xviii]
His statement is not quite an incitement of racial violence but more a threat of it - an attempt to get minorities to surrender their rights and protections. If minorities do not roll over on the issues of affirmative action, empowerment and representivity there is going to be an “explosion.” [This has been a consistent theme of Mbeki since 22 Sept 1994 when he stated that “if in time the reality of the absence of fundamental change convinces the disadvantaged majority that we have created a political democracy, which is unable or unwilling to dismantle the system of racial oppression and exploitation fully, we must expect that the dream deferred will, rather than wilt in the sun, explode. These masses shall then… ask a question, which miraculously they have not yet asked: ‘if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” In March 7, 1996 he said: “The maintenance and perpetuation of the past can only be a recipe for conflict, and more, for an explosion in future which would arise from anger fuelled by the continued existence of the master and servant relations of our apartheid past.”]
Mbeki is saying that whites have to make “sacrifices” if there is to be black advancement in the professions, in the Universities, Public Service or private companies. And if there is insufficient black advancement then it is the white minority who will be the scapegoat.
This view is based on the racial myth that “black advancement” and white “privilege” are irreconcilable. This myth is best expressed in that favourite canard of foreign correspondents that the government has to “balance black hopes and white fears.” It is the belief that blacks cannot advance in society unless whites make “sacrifices” or unless legislation makes them give way. All white “privilege” in turn must have been acquired at the expense of black people.
If this myth is accepted then race relations become a zero-sum game and the concept of an interdependent society or (colour blind) individual advancement is abolished. You either have black advancement, which requires racial discrimination against whites, or you have “white privilege” which was built upon racial discrimination against blacks and is then perpetuated by less open means. It is this myth which is the underlying assumption of much of the ANC’s “transformation” programme.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE ANC’s POLICY OF RACIALISATION
5.1The myth of finite opportunities
It is a common misconception of the left that opportunities are finite. This gives rise to the idea that re-distribution involves the parcelling out of the opportunities - such as for instance the job opportunities that currently exist. Thus the contest for access to opportunities becomes a zero sum game - and if you believe the interests of blacks are fundamentally at odds with those of minorities, then the contest becomes a racial zero sum game.
That is precisely the thinking which underlies the ANC belief that the advancement of blacks and minorities are mutually exclusive possibilities. Thus they feel the need to produce race based laws and policy as a means to protect the bulk of their support base. The consequences for race relations are obvious and disastrous.
Of course it does not have to be this way, because opportunities for employment, education and advancement do not have to be static. Indeed the idea is to create expanding opportunities. In such a scenario the need for obsessive racial bean counting immediately disappears.
Thus a central solution to racial tension, hostility and conflict is to create expanding opportunities, in the first instance through job creation and the provision of quality education. Yet it is in precisely these areas where the ANC government is failing so dismally. The result: shrinking opportunities, a racial zero sum game and an upsurge in racial tension and hostility. Once again, the blame must fall squarely on the shoulders of the ANC government.
5.2 The myth that equality and demographic representivity are synonymous
The scientific racism of the early Twentieth Century made the claim the poverty, illiteracy and ill-health of lower classes (or black race) were the result of genetic factors rather than social or environmental factors. Therefore there was no point in pursuing programmes of social meliorism. In fact, such programmes would be counterproductive for they would result in the bluntening of the effects of natural selection. (The great anti-racist scientist Franz Boas, stated that the differences within racial groups are far greater than the differences between racial groups. This applies as much to cultural and class differences claims of present-day South Africa as it did to the claims made by racial science in the early Twentieth Century.)
But while scientific racism made the claim that the differences between groups were racial (and permanent), demographic representivity is based on the assumption that equality is racial and permanent. The logical conclusion is that this “racial equality” must then be reflected in the racial composition of institutions. A 1994 ANC document on Affirmative Action states that “if we accept… that brains and talents are randomly distributed amongst individuals in all race groups, then any normal system of recruitment and advancement would result in the army, the police service and the public administration at all levels reflecting in its composition the neighbouring population.”
Racial equality is measured by the extent to which “demographic representivity” is reflected in the staff composition of the Public and Private sectors, Universities etc. The effects of class, education, cultural, social and evironmental factors are yet again discounted. The problems of poverty, unemployment, the poor state of township and rural schools are relegated to being of secondary importance. Racial equality exists, all the government has to do is implement it.
5.3 The electoral value to the ANC of its re-racialisation programme
There is an obvious electoral advantage to be gained for the ANC from its programme of re-racialisation. By driving home the idea that the supposed racial interests of blacks as a group are synonymous with those of the ANC as a party the ANC shores up its support amongst the majority of South Africans. By then providing that racial group with an enemy or a scapegoat - the ANC manages to further strengthen its control over its almost exclusively black support base. Thus the electoral implications of the ANC’s racial agenda are an enormously positive spin-off for the ANC as an electoral machine.
THE IMPLICATIONS FOR A COMMON SOCIETY
6.1 Implications for a common society
In 1984 the historian Hermann Giliomee wrote of how apartheid had created a “no-mans land between peoples.”[xix] With the end of apartheid it is on that no-mans land that the beginnings of a common society have been established.
Since 1990 there has been a fragile de-racialisation of South African society. South Africans have been able, for the first time, to attend the same schools, the same universities and technikons, to live in the same areas, and for those priviliged enough to attend good schools, a more or less equal chance to get ahead. For the first time, South Africans have been able to share the same aspirations and to dream the same dreams.
This de-racialisation of society has been achieved, firstly, through the dismantling of apartheid barriers. Secondly, the collapse of apartheid led to the lifting of that weight of racial ideology that had structured the way South Africans had viewed the world. And thirdly, the balance of power between the NP and the ANC in the early 1990s was recognised by both parties and expressed through the emphasis on nation-building and national reconciliation. However, this “spirit of national reconciliation” as purveyed by South Africa’s politicians has proved fleeting and ephemeral.
The establishment of a common society has not been the achievement of the ANC leadership. To the extent that there is a common society in South Africa, it has been created through the thousands of personal relationships formed between South Africans previously divided by apartheid legislation. It is these relationships which Thabo Mbeki so disparagingly calls “non-racial teaparties” and which are threatened by the ANC’s programme of racial “transformation.”
It is those South Africans who have sacrificed the (often stifling) security of group protection for individual opportunity and a colour blind weltanschauung who are the most vulnerable to any racial polarisation engendered by the ANC’s race programme.
The consequences for building a South African identity should not be underestimated, for as one political scientist has commented a “sense of national identity is more likely to develop out of functional relationships within society, than out of deliberate attempts to promote it.”[xx]
Racial transformation structures race relations in such a way that black and non-black will not be able to compete with each other as individuals. Individuals will be allocated a certain quota or target and they will only be able to compete with people of the same colour skin. The end result will be a kind of intra-institutional apartheid. With every institution structured to ensure “African hegemony”.
For the integration of institutions to be translated into colour blindness, or at least mutual respect, it has to be achieved through individual opportunity and individual protections. The ANC’s racial programme forces racial classification and racial discrimination into almost all South African institutions. The differential treatment accorded will engender great bitterness, and if apartheid is any example, the greater the privilege accorded to a racial elite, the greater the racism that will be needed to justify it. It is likely that faced with such a brutal and forced integration individuals will withdraw into the protection provided by their racial groups. Racial identities will be rigidified and people will increasingly view their interests as being tied to racial group they are trapped in.
6.2 Consequences for delivery
There are though two legacies of apartheid that South Africa must confront. First, there is the legacy of group-think among many South Africans—the tendency to view the world through Verwoerdian spectacles. Then there is the legacy of poverty, of unemployment, of illiteracy, of crime and of institutional decay. The consequences of the ANC’s obsession with racial transformation for any rapid and sustainable victory over this group of socio-economic evils are dire.
The biggest lie of the ideology of racial transformation is the argument that it is for the benefit of the black majority. Race-based affirmative action is a policy that, all through the world, has only ever benefited the elite.
In South Africa’s case there is no better example that the Employment Equity Bill, whose stated purpose is to create a black management and professional class. Yet management consultancy, FSA-Contract, predicts that 33% of professionals will be black by the year 2000, while the Breakwater Monitor at the UCT’s Graduate School of Business predicts that over half of all managers will be black by the year 2000. A black management and professional class is thus already undergoing such explosive growth that it will outstrip any employment equity targets that might result from the Employment Equity Bill—and that without the use of any legislative or punitive muscle.
The real challenge—if you are serious about the needs of the majority—is to successfully create employment opportunities for the unemployed, who are in any event predominantly black and female. As Professor Lawrence Schlemmer has recently shown, unemployment has superseded race as the primary factor in income inequality. Yet Employment Equity does nothing for the poor unemployed. Indeed, it is being driven by the very Minister whose party steamrolled through Parliament such employment-hostile legislation as the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Further, the prioritisation in the public service of legislated “equality” (in the form of demographic representivity) over experience, creates a breakdown in management. Certainly the ANC’s programme of racial transformation is partly to blame for the state’s increasing inability to function with even a moderate amount of efficiency. The primary victims are those individuals who do not have the means to buy private health care, private education, unsubsidised housing etc.
The less the ANC is able to deliver on its material promises to its constituency the more it has to revert to delivering symbolic goods. If peoples lives are not improving, at least the “complexion” of institutions is getting darker. Individuals end up having to live the “better life for all” by racial association. Township youths are forced to read about “Black empowerment deals” on the JSE while labour laws further entrench their future unemployment and Minister Bengu continues to do his level best to ill-prepare them for an increasingly competitive job market.
South Africa is an interdependent society—something it took the National Party 40 years to realise and three years for the ANC to forget. If the ANC really wanted to deliver a better life to the poor, to the illiterate and to the unemployed it would use the skills and resources of all South Africans regardless of their colour. Instead it has chosen the mirage of equality that legislated demographic representivity affords over the substantive equality that employment growth and quality education provide.
The Democratic Party believes the following should serve as points of departure in the pursuit of an alternative path for race relations and “transformation” in the future:
1. Creating expanding opportunities as a fundamental objective of policy. In particular, job creation and education opportunities are a foundation without which South Africa’s racially divisive past will never be over come.
2. Prioritising quality in service provision over short term demographic representivity. Quality education, for instance, is a better and more sustainable medium term guarantee of opportunities for poor school-leavers than quick fix obsessions with demographic representivity.
3. Prioritising merit above race. This is not only the principled approach, but one more likely to provide the competitive edge and belief in individual responsibility on which successful societies and economies rely. It also is a guard against cronyism and nepotism and explodes the myth that the interests of blacks and minorities are mutually exclusive.
4. Understand equality to be best protected through equality of opportunity in a context where opportunities are expanding, rather than holding onto the bizarre belief that demographic representivity is synonymous with equality. Indeed, no outcomes based conception of equality ever achieves anything except the mirage of equality and always results in decreasing standards and opportunities.
5. Leave institutions, NGOs and individuals to find their own solutions to problems involving racial integration rather than pursuing a state centred ideologically driven “solution programme”.
6. Focus the assistance of the state on skills development, training, adult literacy programmes and other opportunity creating initiatives.
7. Appeal to voters on the bases of interests, not race. This entails refraining from bashing minority or majority race groups in the pursuit of electoral gain.
[i] Press release, Ministry of Labour, November 1997
[iii] Quoted in Cape Times 8 April 1996
[iv] Speech in the National Assembly June 10, 1997
[v] Speech to 50th National Conference of the ANC, December 16 1997
[vi] ANC press statement 4 November 1997
[vii] The Citizen 26 November 1997
[viii] Speech to 50th National Conference of the ANC, December 16 1997
[ix] Sowell, T. Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? William Morrow: New York, 1984.
[x] Speech at the ANC National Constitutional Conference March/April 1995
[xi] Speech to 50th National Conference of the ANC, December 16 1997
[xvi] Quoted in “Who is Thabo Mbeki?” The Economist November 1st, 1997
[xvii] Die Burger November 1 1997
[xix] Giliomee, H “Changing Everything (Except the Way We Think)” Leadership SA, vol. 3, no. 3, 1984, p. 125
[xx] Kelman cited in Giliomee, H. in F Cloete (ed) Policy Options for a New South Africa. Pretoria: HSRC, 1991