There’s a phenomenon in the mainstream media that has become particularly prominent during the media blitz over the controversy triggered by IRR writer Hermann Pretorius’s article on Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. This was exacerbated by Helen Zille’s decision to run for and then be elected to the position of chairperson of the Federal Executive Council of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The phenomenon is the reference to ‘conservative’ whites. Commentators never define ‘conservative’. They also do little to interrogate the reasons for the disgruntlement of these ‘conservatives’. There is no reason to suggest that white DA supporters are reactionary or right-wing.
Most of the DA’s policies have been supported by the ‘conservative’ whites for years. They don’t do that because they want a ‘white’ country; they support the party because it’s the party with the most decent policies on offer. The African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are race nationalists. When the Twitterati, the main stream media and race nationalists refer sneeringly to people wanting the DA to ‘return to the past’ or snidely deride ‘conservatives’, they are being ignorant and dishonest.
What alienated whites most in the 2019 election was the DA’s position on race. The issue predated Mmusi Maimane’s leadership, but a series of actions and comments by Maimane and some of his colleagues over time have alienated many, notwithstanding the DA’s being frequently hailed as a truly non-racial party.
The now infamous incident at the school in Schweizer-Reneke had a profound effect on DA voters, particularly in the hinterland. Maimane should have been tough enough to berate youth leader Luyolo Mphithi. Mphithi didn’t need to be removed from his position, but he needed to learn more about the political environment. The adult in Maimane should have dealt with it firmly. He didn’t.
This event had a profound effect on white voters in these areas. It wasn’t that they were closet racists or hankered after a bygone era: it was fear and insecurity. It was fear that the DA wouldn’t have their backs when the race nationalists continue to threaten and belittle whites. In a political and economic environment as strained as ours, Maimane should have known better. Many of these people had voted for the DA for the last 20 years.
It matters not a jot whether they are ‘conservative’ or not; they gave their precious vote to the DA. So whether they liked them or not, it meant that they supported the DA’s policies.
Knowledge of the existence of a ‘black caucus’ within the DA was a warning that the leadership was faltering and moving closer to emulating the views of its opponents. Voters hadn’t supported the DA for that. The evolution of the ‘1959 Caucus’ was an unhelpful reaction in response to black isolationism. The DA’s constitution doesn’t allow for these caucuses, so Maimane should have shut them down.
The many comments supporting the ANC’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) redress policies and the about-turn from a non-racial policy back to BEE, was, for many whites, the last straw. The switch from moving firmly in the direction of genuine non-racialism within a very short time after policy advisor Gwen Ngwenya resigned left a lot of whites feeling utterly betrayed. These are people who saw their post-apartheid children being barred from jobs because of colour, and had had enough.
These young people were excluded from potential jobs. Bizarrely, when only white applicants apply for some jobs, the organisation offering the employment withdraws or does not fill a post until a black applicant comes along. Presumably this is intended to fill a quota system based on demographics, which is social engineering of the creepiest kind. Nowhere in the world do successful job applicants exactly match a country’s demographics. If they do, then presumably some have to be incapable of doing their job and so services are poorly provided. No wonder South Africa is in a monstrous mess.
So, does this rejection of exclusionary policy make whites conservative? Is the argument that the significantly flawed BEE policies of the ANC are the only policies that should be allowed to exist? When did ANC policy become holy writ? Why do media commentators who regularly deride the ANC for benefiting a few well-connected individuals refuse to properly consider alternatives? Why is taking race out of determining entitlement to empowerment such a problem for the Left?
Let’s look at the maths. Let’s use the example of the youth who desperately require jobs. Consider the following demographic statistics-
|Age group 15 – 24||8,231,199||834,669||190,189||496,905||9,752,951|
|Age group 25 – 34||9,163,506||839,657||261,245||567,785||10,832,193|
We see that young whites comprise 5% of these population groups. If all young whites were to apply for jobs, they could never remotely be a large enough group to make a dent in the number of jobs that should need to be done.
Numerically, the BEE restrictions are ludicrous, but the ANC ties itself to them like scripture. Better by far would be the IRR’s alternative to BEE – Economic Empowerment for the Disadvantaged (EED) – which is based on disadvantage not race.
The DA is expected, because of its liberal principles, to stand up for egalitarianism not the racial preference which the numbers show is not necessary. The better education generally enjoyed by whites has meant that the number of whites likely to need assistance under EED, is very, very small. Heaven forbid a few whites should also get help!
The principles of (classical) liberalism support and protect the individual first and foremost; protection of the individual will ensure protection of the group, but the reverse is not necessarily true. The principles of liberalism are limited government, a market economy, private enterprise, freedom of speech, individual liberty and the rule of law.
Liberalism recognises that each individual is different, that he/she must be allowed to make and be responsible for their own choices. The state is there to serve all individuals not manage them.
Given this, why would anyone not want to be a liberal? What is it in liberal principles that suggests they are ‘right-wing’? Analysis has to be more informed and more honest before we can have a meaningful debate – about what really matters.
Sara Gon is the head of strategic engagement at the IRR. If you like what you have just read, become a Friend of the IRR if you aren’t already one by SMSing your name to 32823 or clicking here. Each SMS costs R1.’ Terms & Conditions Apply.