SA owes a debt of gratitude to Piet Croucamp

Helen Zille responds to the academic and Vrye Weekblad writer's criticism of the DA

South Africa owes a debt of gratitude to Piet Croucamp. In his article “So vou die groot opposisie hoop” (Thus folds the great opposition hope) on VryeWeekblad he unwittingly reveals, more clearly than any other analyst, the real agenda behind the commentariat’s onslaught on the DA.

If you are prepared to hold your nose, and wade through the stream of inchoate insults that run through his article like a loose stool, you may be rewarded by finding the single kernel of insight under the hot mess of “identity politics”.

The key sentence, which reveals the goal of identity politics in South Africa, is this: “Raak tuis in Afrika, want die DA se ooglopende koloniale versugtinge is 'n genetiese afwyking, nie die norm nie.”

In this sentence, Croucamp advises the DA to get used to Africa. Our apparent “longing for the trappings of colonialism,” he says, is a genetic aberration, not the norm in our country.

This is the only sentence in an entire article of over 1,500 words that warrants any closer analysis.

The reader would be wrong to interpret it as an attack on the DA. It is not. It is in fact a diatribe against 1) the constitution and 2) black South Africans.

Everything the DA strives and fights for, lies at the core of our constitution: individual liberty, human rights, non-racialism, the rule of law, the separation of party and state, property rights as the foundation of a job-creating economy, and defeating the devastating legacy of past injustice.

It is these things, argues Piet, that are alien to Africa. Our constitution is out of place on this continent, he implies.

This is a deeply patronising generalisation against Africans. In fact, it is racist. What Piet is actually saying is that black Africans are genetically incapable of embracing the values and ideas of the Enlightenment: the sovereignty of reason, the ideal of liberty, human rights, and constitutional government.

He fails to grasp that, although our constitution embraces all the core concepts of the Enlightenment, it was not a colonial imposition. Our constitution, with all the DA’s core values entrenched in its foundation, was negotiated, written and agreed by representatives of the vast majority of South Africans ourselves, as our foundational law in order to make peace and progress possible.

By rejecting the values and ideas that underpin constitutionalism as “alien to Africa,” Piet is revealing the real agenda of racial identity politics.

This Marxist dogma du jour, cultivated in the Humanities Faculties at American Universities, has metastasized like a malignant cancer throughout universities worldwide, including South Africa. It has extended its tentacles deeply into the key professions that recruit from this pool, particularly the media.

Ironically, in the name of fighting “colonial influences,” they have succumbed to a new form of colonial thought-control that seeks to condescendingly explain to black people that the institutions of constitutional government are alien to their culture, and that independent institutions to limit the powers of rulers are an imposition of colonialism; an historical aberration.

It implies that, to be true to their racial and cultural identity, black people must discard these impositions, making way for a return to traditional governance systems, where the chief wields all power until his strongest rival wields the knife.

Piet is indistinguishable from the infamous UCT student in the notorious “Science Must Fall” video, who proposed that the University de-colonise the curriculum by getting rid of Newtonian physics. If an apple falling off a tree laid the foundation for the Theory of Gravity, she argued, what about developing indigenous theories that can explain how witches “throw lightening” to kill their enemies over great distances?

Julius Malema belongs in their team too. When you strip away his bombast, his goal is to “decolonise” our politics and our economy. Just this week we saw yet another example. Using the threat of raw force and anarchy, he compelled the Chief Executive Officer of a pharmaceutical company to genuflect before him, ignore institutional mechanisms for resolving labour disputes, and implement Malema’s instructions.

The CEO no doubt has the smouldering ruins of several Clicks stores still fresh in his memory. He knew what the alternative to abject obedience would be. As Piet would say: This is Africa, baby (although his words would be appropriately disguised in the diarrhoea of academic discourse.)

In the DA, we reject this simplistic and racist notion of Africa. Indeed, we reject all generalisations about any category of people. We judge people by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin or any other biological attribute.

We reject the idea that Africa, and all Africans, are stuck in the pre-Enlightenment era. The DA’s appeal is to the millions of Africans of all races, who believe in Enlightenment values that underpin our constitution – in rationality, individual liberty, non-racialism and free association.

Not Piet. His patronising generalisations about black South Africans pop up like little solid bits all over the liquid mess of his “analysis:”

Here is one: “Ntuli is die gesig wat die DA suksesvol sou kon maak.”

Mbali Ntuli is the face that could make the DA successful.

Let that sink in (as the Wokes would say).

The FACE. Forget about any of the attributes actually necessary for successful leadership, like Vision, Courage, Integrity, Intelligence and old-fashioned hard work.

Just an attractive FACE, (that must, of course, be black). What an insult to Mbali, and all women leaders.

What an insult to the majority of post-enlightenment African constitutionalists of all races who think that success in political leadership requires more than an attractive face on a poster.

That single sentence reveals Piet’s contemptuous approach to black people in general, and women in particular.

But at least he is consistent in living out the male caricature he associates with Africa. Harking back, no doubt, to the pre-enlightenment practice of Ukuthwala, (which allows men to kidnap women of their choice), Croucamp locked a female colleague at the University of Johannesburg in her office for many hours – an offence for which he was fired in 2016.

Judging by his comments in the media afterwards, he took serious offence to the suggestion that he had violated the woman’s rights. I can only presume that personal freedoms, such as a woman’s right not to be incarcerated by a colleague, are (in his mind) a genetic aberration in Africa. When it comes to the treatment of women, men can do as they please.

The DA has news for Piet Croucamp, and others who wish to destroy South Africa by delegitimising our constitution through identity politics. You will, in the long run be outnumbered by the rational South Africans who want this country to succeed, and who know that the only way to achieve this is through the values of individual liberty, non-racialism, constitutionalism, a social market economy and sustainable strategies to overcome the injustices of the past.

Today, the DA is the only voice speaking unequivocally for these values.

Piet, you have the right to dribble your drivel into the public discourse. But don’t be surprised when the rest of us simply hold our noses and walk in the opposite direction to build a prosperous country on the DA’s liberal democratic values.

This article first appeared on Vrye Weekblad.