F.W. De Klerk has entered the South African racial debacle by lodging a formal complaint. What can the South African government do to eliminate racism? South Africa, it seems, is going through a mini-revolution, and in certain quarters, tempers have reached the boiling point. Black, colored, white and Indian people all have a list of grievances and reasons for being discontent. The recent racist remark by Penny Sparrow, who forgot that many people have wounds that have not healed, only scratched the surface and perhaps revealed that only Nelson Mandela forgave wholeheartedly.
Is the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party to blame for racism in South Africa? When going back through history, the 1989 elections took De Klerk to the presidency, and it was De Klerk that campaigned on the ticket of change for an all-inclusive democracy for the country. At that time, the National party got 48 percent of the popular vote, meaning that the majority of white people voted against the change De Klerk was advocating. He became president and proceeded with change nonetheless, against the wishes of the majority of the people he was governing.
The ANC took over in 1994 not as a party wanting to govern, but as a corrupt, power-hungry party that wanted nothing but to get its hands on the levers of state power and the national purse strings. A party with a plan to govern would have, between 1990 and 1994, studied the kind of citizens it was going to govern and come up with a plan on how not to antagonize the white majority who did not want the ANC in power – a majority who, at that time, was controlling almost the entire economy of the country. The ANC did not, and instead unleashed a racist vitriol against white people, threatening to take everything owned by the now-minority group at the drop of a hat, even though the ANC cannot legally do so. Now that the current ANC president, Jacob Zuma, has triggered the majority’s anger and shown that the ANC is not untouchable, the ruling party complains about white racism.
The F.W. De Klerk Foundation has stated that blacks are more racist than whites and have lodged several complaints with the Human Rights Commission. De Klerk wants the commission to intervene regarding the racism and hate speech against whites. Hate speech and racism peaked on social media platforms over the past few weeks. Many of the posts are damning and hurtful, and now the ANC government wants to regulate the laws, but perhaps it is a little too late. De Klerk, in the meantime, is under fire for taking action, and many are calling for his head. How can progress be made and forgiveness, that will lead to real reconciliation, equality and a better life for all South Africans, be granted? To narrow inequality, increase the tax base, uplift poor communities, and incorporate all South Africans, the government should improve the infrastructure, education, and medical facilities. Shacks and hostels should be replaced with decent housing, as living conditions are appalling. The poorest of the poor are forced to live in inhumane conditions, as the government has failed to address the urgent need for providing houses.
Only when the ANC government addresses the needs of the people will the hatred against the minority ease. The ANC must correct the wrongs of its neo-liberal policies, which have trapped a black race into debt, inequality, unemployment, and poverty. Perhaps one of the worst moves the ANC government undertook was to join the World Trade Organization on negative terms as a “transitional,” and not a developing, economy. This move led to the destruction of many clothing, textile, appliances, and other labor-intensive firms, creating a tsunami of unemployment, and many of these unemployed people have lost a dignity that is now festering into hatred.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
IOL: Blacks more racist than whites
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