Nothing good can come of leaders’ racist rhetoric in the political sphere

The continued use of racial rhetoric in public speeches and platforms by political leaders in South Africa is something deserving of the strongest condemnation.

BANTU MNIKI Picture: FILE

It is a foolish game, out of which nothing good could come.

“I know president Mbeki, you’re fighting your own factional battles. “But when you fight your battles, don’t distort the truth. Whites are monopolising our economy.”

These words were reportedly said by EFF leader Julius Malema, at his party’s fourth anniversary celebrations in Durban. The danger lies in Malema’s sneaky suggestion that he stands for the “truth”.

Malema knows that his statements present what can be easily corroborated by the skewed socio-economic results of colonialism and apartheid.

As a result, it is a statement which easily finds resonance with most of the least economically stable of our citizens. These are members of our society who were previously disadvantaged and dispossessed by colonialism and apartheid.

While Malema’s words may find resonance with his followers and probably grow his political support, he is missing an opportunity to do something much greater.

Instead he is making the same mistake that has tripped the ANC for so long; he is putting the EFF or its popularity ahead of the good of the country.

Most people may assume this is the nature of politics. However, it is the one thing which guarantees that a political party will fail in its mandate to improve society even if it wins support for many years. If its obsession is itself, it cannot fulfil its societal obligations. The ANC has already demonstrated this.

My point is, the country does not benefit from the use of race to base anything, even a simple argument. The use of race as a political tool heightens other divisions within society as well. Where racism thrives, tribalism, sexism, and an entrenched “us against them” attitude thrives as well.

It is dangerous. It creates instability, keeping us always on the verge of a crisis. It makes it easy for people to turn on each other should things not happen the way they would like.

Referring to the discredited concept of “white monopoly capital”, Malema reportedly said: “It must be replaced by socialism and sharing of wealth. We are not for any monopoly, not even Indian monopoly which happens here in Durban”.

If Hendrik Verwoerd was alive, he would have been proud to see the young EFF leader passionately embracing and encouraging racial hatred and misunderstanding, proving him right.

By painting “whites” and “Indians” as the holders of monopoly capital, Malema is inferring that these “races” are to be regarded as the enemy of those who do not regard themselves as holders of any monopoly capital; read “blacks”. This is very reckless coming from someone who considers himself a leader.

But maybe even more poisonous is Malema’s presentation of the economy as something to have, or maybe take from somewhere and cut into pieces and share.

This attitude of extraction and distribution is the worst idea to cultivate about any economy. It gives people the idea that if the economy is in the hands of “whites” and “Indians”, it can be taken away from them and shared among those who had none, read “blacks”. It is a foolish and dangerous idea that should never be toyed with, at least not in 2017.

Perhaps betraying what may be his true attitude, Malema also reportedly complained: “Every big tender is given to Indian families in Natal. We don’t have a problem, but we’re saying share with our people”.

So, Malema does not mind as long as tenders are shared with his people? Who are his people? Is he referring to EFF members? Is he hoping to maybe do the same thing we have seen the ANC do all these years, eh … sharing tenders “with their people”?

Maybe it is just me, but I am sick and tired of all this old stale populist pseudo-revolutionary nonsense. This populist nonsense by Malema is actual hindering us from fulfilling our true potential.

South Africa remains one of the most advanced societies on the continent. We have a country which has the potential of producing an economy based on the development of society from the ground up. That economy could seek to develop value in every citizen. Every citizen could then participate meaningfully in the creation of new wealth through co-operation. A culture of contribution could develop together with such an economy to produce a better society, something we all desire. There is just no room for racism, there’s only room for people.

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