Written by: Mark Del
Back in the middle of the 20th century, the Reunited National Party (NP) had the misguided idea to implement the policy of Apartheid. This would doom the country to countless deaths, generations of racial tension, and make it a pariah on the world stage. The party’s short-sightedness failed to grasp the magnitude of such a policy in a post-World War II environment, especially as the proverbial “winds of change” swept across the African continent. But in perhaps the ultimate irony, they especially couldn’t have foreseen that this racist policy meant to benefit a white minority would one day be co-opted by their adversaries.
Apartheid is just as useful today to the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as it was to the NP years ago. It’s still designed to benefit a small elite. It may not be official policy, but its memory is invoked on a frequent basis to justify all manner of exploitative behavior.
Take, for example, Zapiro’s cartoon of Shaun Abrahams, or the Zuma Must Fall display in Cape Town and its subsequent nationwide march. What was the immediate reaction? To shout “racist”, of course, despite the fact that none of these incidents at any time mentioned skin colour or ethnicity and were supported by South Africans of all backgrounds.
The EFF is no better. Their blatantly-obvious, ugly struggle for power is frequently justified by a desire to disenfranchise other ethnic groups as penance for Apartheid. The only difference is that they make no pretense of respecting democracy or freedom of the press. Ask yourself this: would Julius Malema have any argument, or any purpose for that matter, if he wasn’t driven by racist rhetoric? Would his party be anything but rudderless in a post-Zuma South Africa?
Racism is a very real social issue in South Africa. It needs to be addressed, and we need to figure out ways to coexist peacefully. Maybe even learn to respect each other’s beliefs and worldviews, without necessarily agreeing with them. But we’ll never accomplish this when the ANC and the EFF are more concerned with punishing racists and robbing the term of all validity by shouting “racist” at every criticism, real or imaginary.
It’s particularly astonishing in a culture that praises martyrdom. Why isn’t there more outrage over what these parties are doing? They are essentially dancing on the graves of all the victims of Apartheid by using their deaths as an excuse for self-enrichment and power grabs. Did children like Hector Pieterson really die just so Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema could one day own luxurious gifts and amass personal fortunes at the taxpayer’s expense? I’ve no doubt that if either party’s apparatchiks were to read this, they wouldn’t address any of its points and merely label me as a “racist” in an ironic sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Apartheid isn’t dead. And it won’t die any time soon. Not with the ANC and EFF still benefiting handsomely from it and the power its memory affords them. Once these parties understand it as a catastrophe and not a cheap political tactic, we can move on from it and truly honour the innocent who were murdered in its name.
Author: Mark Del, born in 1981 as Delano Cuzzucoli in the US city of Richmond, Virginia, currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He works in IT and has written articles for tech and gaming magazines, both local and abroad. Mark has a passion for history, politics, philosophy, sociology, writing, and the arts.