White racists pay no price for their intolerance - COSATU

Federation says structural cause is the stranglehold white minority continues to exercise over the economy

The untransformed South African economy is the swamp that feeds and allows racist like Ms Sparrow to breed

6 January 2016

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with indignation the vile racists’ rants of the Democratic Alliance member and Estate Agent, Ms Penny Sparrow, who referred to black beachgoers as animals. While we understand the resultant justifiable anger from black South Africans, the federation feels that focusing and limiting the anger of the nation to only the insults of one lunatic racist is missing the bigger picture.

This is not a new crisis nor is it limited to her alone. The latest statement by the economist and media darling Mr Chris Hart shows how deep-rooted the problem of racism is in this country. Mr Hart tweeted on Sunday that 25 years after apartheid ended; the victims are increasing, along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.

It is a travesty that for years, the people of this country have been subjected to the anachronistic analogy and economic commentary by this close minded person, who is prejudiced against those, who were victimised by the heinous crime of apartheid. Apartheid like slavery was a heinous crime and a step above the grave for the victims and for racists like Mr Hart, who benefited from this criminal system to come and play victim is pure arrogance.

Workers in general and domestic and farm workers in particular are experiencing racial insults everyday in their workplaces. The fact is that racism is not dead in South Africa and the sooner we realise that the better prepared we will be prepared ,as a country to deal with it in a more comprehensive, coherent and decisive manner.

What allows the white racists to have the arrogance and audacity to publicly use such incendiary language, to vent their racial prejudices is the stranglehold that they still have over our economy. The economic fault lines and the ownership patterns of the economy have not been changed. They still favour the white minority and therefore these racists pay no price for their intolerance. Unless our government takes seriously the task of economic transformation, we will continue to see this race baiting from these close minded and condescending bigots.

What is also a travesty is that 25 years after the democratic breakthrough, we still hear reports of whites’ only beaches in KZN. The ANC, the Durban Municipality and the provincial government should investigate the reports that black people were barred from a certain beach in Durban over the festive season.

While they are still having their gardens cared for by exploited black people, dine in restaurants, where they are served by poorly paid black waiters and leave their kids with their poorly paid nannies, white people will continue with their racist tendencies. When this furore around the insults by Ms Sparrow has died down, racists of all sorts will continue with their abusing workers behind closed doors and the worse affected will be the vulnerable workers, who will be forced to choose between their dignity and their livelihoods.

COSATU is also not surprised that Ms Sparrow is a member of the Democratic Alliance, because that party is a nest for rabid racists, who are nostalgic for the segregationist past, where whites were superior citizens by law. Racism is in their DNA and no amount of spin and public gestures will camouflage or change that reality. The people of South Africa should be reminded of that fact as we approach the coming local government elections.

Workers and their families should not allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the DA. It has proven time and again that it is not the party that is committed nor interested in advancing the interests of Africans and black people in particular. Their policies are racist and do not acknowledge the apartheid engineered inequalities. They are committed to defending the white privileges and eroding the gains that have been gained by the workers over the years.

Racism need not just be opposed but has to be vigorously fought against and this cannot be successfully done ,when the entire economic system is still racially skewed in favour of the white minority. If we are to defeat racism we need to ensure that black people get their land back and they are given a share in the country’s wealth. The best strategy to fight racism is to dry up the swamp, where these racists feed and breed , by breaking the stranglehold that they still have over the economy. They will continue to goad and insult black people and behave as if this country is theirs, because they pay no price for their bigotry.

Statement issued by Sizwe Pamla, COSATU national spokesperson, 5 January 2016