Last week we ran a couple of stories that detailed some of the racial tensions brewing in South Africa. We also included a couple of videos. What was most disturbing and noteworthy was seeing the extreme anger being expressed by white Afrikaners who are claiming they want ‘their country back’. Does this sound familiar? Does it sound like the rhetoric being expressed by Tea Party types who seem to have been motivated by having a Black man in the White House as opposed to the corporate heads (many of them white) who caused much of the economic upheavals they are railing about. Its hard not to hear about this anger among White South Africans and not compare that with what’s going on here. They want to celebrate and highlight what they claim is a unique culture and here in the US we have sitting governors publicaly harking back to the ‘the good ole days’ when the Confederate South was on the running things.
Sadly here in this country race trumps all logic and as we seen time and time again folks will vote against their own self interests rather than share power and resources with racial rivals. call it a warped sense of entitlement where some whites feel that they have a God-Given right to be economically, politically and socially better off then people of color. From what I’m reading about in South Africa, it seems like a resentment of no longer being in charge. In any case here’s a recent Africa Watch blog laying out some of what’s going on in South Africa…
Rising Dissatisfaction Among Post Apartheid Blacks. Is South Africa On The Brink Of A Bloodbath?
Julius Malema, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader, and the recent brutal murder of the African Resistance Movement (AWB) creator Eugen Terreblanche may be the spark that lights the fuse of dissatisfaction at the limited gains received by blacks in post apartheid South Africa.
First Terreblanche is a white racist Afrikaner whose viciousness and brutality toward the killing of unarmed black South Africans came to light under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – he confessed his sins and walked away a free man.
Malema has received much scrutiny in the South African and British press lately, for, among other things, calling for the nationalization of South Africa’s mining industry, the singing and then banning by the courts of the song that includes the lyrics “shoot the boer,” and traveling to Zimbabwe and being met at the airport by 500 Zanu-PF youth members singing the above song, as well as being received on the tarmac by Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe.
The AWB (at their height they claimed a membership of 70,000) or what is left of it vowed to avenge Terreblanche, as the group has since toned down their call for revenge. According to news reports, “fear of growing racial tensions and polarization grew as condolences streamed in,” and the General-Secretary of the AWB blamed Malema. During a phone interview, he said to expect “revenge.” We are going to finish with funeral arrangements and thereafter have a summit conference on May one in Pretoria, where all of our leaders and members of the AWB will come together and decide on what actions we will take to revenge Terreblanche’s death.” He then linked the song with the lyrics “shoot the boer” reported News24.com, sung until recently banned by Malema as directly responsible for the killing.
“There were mixed reactions from political parties,” reported News24.com. Those included the Azanian People’s Organization (Azapo) that said Terreblanche died in a similar manner in which he murdered blacks. We are sad that Mr. Terreblanche died in the manner in which he died, murdered in cold blood. Sadly, this is how he killed black defenseless farm workers in Venterdorp.”
The Afrikaner author and political commentator Dr. Dan Roodt accused the ANC youth wing of creating “a crime of hatred towards Afrikaners” which, reported News24.com, could lead to “anarchy (and) Zimbabwean-style land evasions.”
In addition, the country is at the crossroad, he said, and appealed to the international community, including the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations to intervene and stop the potential for a bloodbath in South Africa.
But all of this talk of a blood bath fails to consider that in post apartheid South Africa, the economy including 87 percent of the productive farmland, continues to be in the hands of whites. So Terreblanche might be the spark that lights the fuse, but the powder keg representing the unmet needs of black South Africans has been simmering for some time.
Then there is the land question, and all of the ink being abused in order to discuss white fear of a black takeover of the economy.
This question prompted then President Mandela to say in 1997 that: “Their task is to spread messages about an impending economic collapse, escalating corruption in the public service, rampant and uncontrollable crime, a massive loss of skills through white emigration and mass demoralization among the people… because they are white and therefore threatened by the ANC and its policies which favor black people.”
The current public discussion appears to be geared toward masking “racist narratives,” with a tendency to portray black wealth as something to be regarded with suspension, said Black Management Forman deputy president Tembakazi Mnyaka.
This is being couched in calls for “lifestyle audits,” which is a “smokescreen,” that Mnyaka claims, “the purveyors of this narrative seek to silence the emerging black economic elite and middle class, lest they are blackmailed by the now exposed banner that says: blacks cannot be wealthy.”
Mnyaka believes those that support calls for lifestyle audits “manipulate” and “de-historize the context.”
He also says, “We are made to question whether apartheid and its attendant policies that dehumanized blacks and created the most unequal society in the world really happened: and if the conclusion is that it did, we are made to feel guilty about correcting its wrongs.”
This narrative includes post apartheid blacks being made to feel guilty for desiring ownership of productive farmland 87 percent of which is in the hands of white South Africans.
President Zuma has promised to overhaul the governments’ land reform program, as a government minister said, “one of the most visible legacies of apartheid that has failed.”
This land distribution program to date, according to land reform minister Gugile Nkwinti, has not been “sustainable and has not provided the anticipated benefits to the recipients.” In addition, Nkwinti says, of the 15 million acres that has been distributed, most of which is non-productive land, and “has been transferred through restitution and redistribution… and has not created any economic benefit for many of the new owners.”
So this doomed from the beginning – failure at the redistribution of land stolen by whites under the 1913 Natives Land Act called, “the original political sin” by many, has no chance of meeting its mark. And at market prices, repurchasing one-third of that land and resettling black farmers by 2014 at a rate of $9.6 billion, is all but out of the question.
So maybe, ANCYL leader Julius Malema, with all his flaws, “is in fact the most appropriate leader,” according to South Africa’s Politicsweb, “for the moment.” Since he is unlike “the passive (Bantustan leaders) to the apologetic (liberal reformists like Desmond Tutu and Memphela Ramphela), the time has come for an explosive and radical character who will advocated for social equality without compromise.”
So the Youth League leader hits a nerve for his willingness to speak his mind regardless of the consequences. His criticism of the Zuma administration for under-resourcing of the National Youth Development Agency when President Zuma said he would support the NYDA during his State of the Nation speech shows why he has mass appeal among blacks and why whites fear his brand of leadership.
And then there is last week’s trip to Zimbabwe and his most recent call for he nationalization of South Africa’s mines. “We hear you are going straight for the mines, he said during a rally in Harare organized by the youth component of the Zanu-PF, “That is what we are gong to do in South Africa.”
“They have exploited our minerals for a very long time. We want the mines, now it’s our turn,” he said. The Sunday Times reported, Zimbabwe last month put in operation a law that requires foreign companies valued at over 500,000 US dollars to divest 51 percent of shares to non-white locals within five years.”
Malema apparently is taking his show on he road. In a tour designed to look at “nationalization programs,” the ANC Youth League leader will also visit Brazil, China, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.
But of all the things, Malema has been criticized in the South African press, it is the media coverage of the “shoot the boar” song, the subsequent connection of the song to Terreblance killing, that has received the most ink. Malema’s singing of the song last month, according to published reports, in front of college students sparked a legal battle in which the ruling ANC challenged “a high court that ruled the lyrics as unconstitutional.” Boar means farmer in Afrikaners, and has negative connotations referencing white Afrikaners.
The killing of Terrblance appears to be in response to his unwillingness to pay two of his black farm workers, not motivated by listening to a song.
Jehron Muhammad can be reached at:Africawatch53@gmail.com
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