John Kane-Berman responds to the OSA leader's open letter to white South Africans
Dear Mr Maimane
Last month you published a letter to “dear white South Africans”, of which I happen to be one. You thereby played the race card, so I hope you won’t mind if I do the same. I am, however, writing to you rather than to “dear black South Africans”, as that would be carrying generalisation a bit far.
You lump the ANC/ EFF with the DA/FF+ as “representing divisive racialised politics” in contrast to “bridge builders” such as yourself. Do you honestly see no difference between the anti-white aggression of the ANC/EFF and the fact that neither the DA nor the FF+ preaches or practises aggression against anyone?
I seem to recall that the closest the Democratic Alliance came to ANC/EFF-type “racialised politics” was under your leadership. That was in Schweizer-Reneke early last year, when your federal youth leader indulged in a spot of race-baiting against a schoolteacher, Elana Barkhuizen. Far from repudiating this bully, you portrayed him as a victim. So it’s a bit rich for you to complain about “racialised politics”.
On that occasion you complained that your youth leader had been “dishonestly” “lumped in” with the ANC and the EFF. By now lumping your old party in with the ANC and the EFF you are doing exactly what you last year said was “dishonest”.
You urge “white compatriots” to follow the “gallant example” of Beyers Naudé in fighting for a “united South Africa”. “Oom Bey”, as you call him, was undoubtedly brave in confronting the prejudice in his own church. But he had plenty of predecessors in opposing apartheid and fighting divisive racial policies. Dating back to before he was born, they came from many different walks of life. Among whites these liberals were a minority which was constantly vilified. But they carried on regardless and their determination over the decades was one of the factors that brought the apartheid system to an end.
Your call to whites to emulate Beyers Naudé therefore comes late in the day. It also fails to acknowledge that plenty of “white South Africans” in a variety of different organisations are still fighting for a non-racial country instead of one subject to all the new racial laws being piled on to the Statute Book.
Whites in your view must “do more”, “sacrifice more”, “build bridges”, etc. Your “plea” would carry greater weight if you acknowledged the vast amount that whites pay in taxes to a black-dominated government many of whose members continuously waste or steal a huge proportion of those same taxes. It would also carry greater weight if you acknowledged the contribution that whites have been making this year to alleviating suffering among black people during lockdowns while the black government was busy putting obstacles in their way, never mind carrying on with all the theft and looting.
You accuse whites of “failure to play your part” in solving the country’s challenges. Tell that to Renate Barnard, the police captain denied promotion on racial grounds, a travesty of justice and fair play lamentably endorsed by the Constitutional Court. Tell it to the numerous other white (and coloured, Asian, and Indian) South Africans laid off or denied appointment or promotion in terms of the black government’s racial policies. Cyril Ramaphosa constantly bewails violence against women, but his government’s racial policies have denuded the criminal justice system of skills needed to combat this and other types of crime.
“Failure” of whites to play their part “has dire consequences for all 60 million South Africans”. You are right about that. But how much of that “failure” is itself the consequence of the barriers which cadre deployment has placed in their way? How much is the result of the ruling party’s decision to get rid of white teachers, to the detriment of a great many black schoolchildren? How much is the result of the corruption on which the ruling party embarked very shortly after it came to power?
Thanks in part to their privileged position under apartheid legislation, white South Africans were possessed of scarce skills that could have helped the post-apartheid government in all sorts of different ways. How many of these skills were lost to the public sector because they were spurned in pursuance of racial quotas decreed by the ideology of the national democratic revolution?
How many whites have emigrated since 1994 thanks to crime, corruption, proposals to confiscate property, post-apartheid job reservation, incessant “empowerment” demands, and threats of violent attack? How many white farmers are even now contemplating emigration because the black government trivialises the murders of farmers and their families?
You address your letter to the “overwhelming majority” of whites “who want this country to work”. You then contrive to exclude your former party from this “majority”. But that party is already demonstrating how the country can be made to work better at both provincial and local level. Why can you not recognise this?
You also fail to acknowledge all those whites who are dedicated to saving this country from the ruinous policies of its black government. They include individuals brave enough to try to fix state-owned enterprises, and others working in organisations seeking to combat those ruinous policies. Some of these organisations have been in operation for years.
But since 1994 numerous new ones have sprung up to meet growing demand for watchdogs and whistleblowers. Whites are no less involved in this endeavour than are blacks also horrified by the behaviour of the ANC and its communist and trade union allies.
You declare that “we can achieve the dream, of a united, prosperous, and reconciled South Africa” with a “significant level of economic inclusion”. You then urge: “Let’s begin.” Have you not noticed that the work began long ago? That the necessary battle of ideas is already being fought? That those fighting it include people of all races in established liberal and other institutions, as well as in newer ones, among them Afrikaner organisations such as Solidariteit, AfriForum, and Sakeliga?
You complain about “racialised politics”. Perhaps you should consider the beam in your own eye.
* John Kane-Berman is a policy fellow at the IRR, a think-tank that promotes political and economic freedom. Readers are invited to take a stand with the IRR by clicking here or sending an SMS with your name to 32823. Each SMS costs R1. Ts and Cs apply.