By Prince Mashele
Throughout colonialism and apartheid, white people in SA were troubled by one central question: “How do we, as a settler minority, prevail over a majority of black natives?”
Both English liberal Cecil John Rhodes and Afrikaner nationalist Hendrik Verwoerd agreed that the best way was to subjugate and oppress the black majority.
The few whites who fled to Australia, Canada and other white countries in 1994 could not imagine themselves living under a political system governed by a dark-skinned human being.
Those who remained were also scared, but could not uproot centuries of socio-economic and cultural investments they and their ancestors had made in this part of Africa.
Although they did not vote for him in 1994, those whites who remained were pleasantly surprised by Nelson Mandela’s message of forgiveness.
That is why white people are the loudest in promoting Mandela. He gave them what they did not expect: peaceful and luxurious life among the very people they previously oppressed.
But whites have continued to be suspicious of black people. That is why the first hint of departure from Mandela’s forgivism triggered Tony Leon into “fight back” mode.
When all the lies and propaganda have been peeled off, post-apartheid SA remains with two consequential parties: one for black people (ANC) and the other for white people (DA).
The central question for the black party (ANC) has been to restore the broken dignity of the black person.
And the central question for the white party (DA) has been to protect the survival and privileges of the white person under an overwhelming black majority.
The greatest challenge for both parties has been how to manoeuvre towards their respective objectives without making the other (blacks or whites) feel excluded.
Interestingly, both the ANC and the DA have deployed the same tactics to pacify the other. The ANC has preached a gospel of inclusion and embraced a sprinkle of white faces within its leadership ranks to send a message that it is not working against white people.
The DA, too, has employed the same tactics. It has been banging on the gong of inclusiveness and invited into its leadership ranks a few black faces to disguise its fundamental whiteness.
But when the two parties are pushed into a corner, they reveal their true colours. The funny thing about this truth is that both blacks and whites know and deny it. Both blacks and whites think they can fool each other.
What are the respective problems of the existing black (ANC) and white (DA) organisations?
The greatest problem of the black party is corruption. The ANC has been corrupted by criminals beyond repair. It is now a vehicle of self-enrichment for thugs who have mastered the art of manipulating party structures all the way to the top. When the thugs reach the top, they do what criminals are known for: steal.
Now that their party has been stolen from them, the black people of South Africa are left politically stranded. Some are experimenting with a strange beast called the EFF, a pseudo-revolutionary party of young thieves with an ungovernable taste for luxury.
Other frustrated black people seek accommodation in the white party itself. Others simply don’t know what to do.
The greatest problem of the DA is how best to fool black people into believing that the preservation of white privileges is not the party’s main business. Thus, white tacticians and propagandists walk the tight rope of keeping co-opted blacks calm while assuaging white voters not to fear the possible theft of their party by the co-opted blacks.
The recent upheavals in the DA, and the planned return of Helen Zille to leadership, is precisely about that. Whites are beginning to sense that their party has been stolen. And they have decided to reclaim it. They don’t care about all the noises made by black people out there.
SA’s greatest challenge is that the country is trapped in its own past.
Those who plan the future do so either to preserve the past or to punish the beneficiaries of the past.
What, then, is the kind of future awaiting a corrupt black ANC and a pure white, racist DA?