Lindiwe Mazibuko, DA spokesperson, was addressing the Cape Town Press Club during the week and made very astonishing remarks around the challenge of transformation in the country. In her speech, Mazibuko suggested that in redressing the historical imbalances in the country, Africans should not receive preferential treatment. Mazibuko appears to believe that whites in South Africa, who benefitted from the skewed and discriminatory system of apartheid, somehow, need some sort of redress as well.
It is difficult to establish whether Mazibuko was expressing her own personal views or was merely towing the party line. In either instance, it would be tragic that an African, regardless of their current circumstances, would want to equate the socio-economic challenges facing the majority who are poor with those of the privileged minority. It is this sort of misguided thinking that delays progress and compromises the transformation agenda in the country. It is clear from Mazibuko’s utterances that the DA seeks to preserve white privilege to the detriment of the majority who clamour for the rapid pace of tranformation.
Perhaps Mazibuko and her DA are ignorant of the sobering facts on the ground. The Commission for Employment Equity has reported that 73% of top management positions in the country are occupied by whites. Unemployment among whites is below 6% when among the historical disadvantaged majority it exceeds 26%. The economy after 17 years of democracy is still largely controlled by whites, as evidence by their direct ownership of the JSE. The majority who are poor in the country are Africans. Treating them as of equal circumstances to their privileged white South Africans will not assist nor advance their cause.
Mazibuko wants the country to pretend that our history is not a history that is defined by colour; and that we must ignore that the present circumstances of South Africans are a sad reflection of that history. To address these historical injustices we cannot over look race. It is in fact on the basis of race, as allowed by the Constitution, that we must proceed to redress those historical wrongs. Africans should stop being apologetic when confronting their own challenges and attempt to placade irrational fears of others who use such fear to hold the transformation agenda and progress to ransom.
Mazibuko, as a young African leader, must stop making excuses for the preservation of white privilege in order to appeal to her white constituency. The burden of responsibililty to advance transformation in the country rests on her DA shoulders too. Failure to redress the historical injustices is an indictment on her as well. The sooner African leaders in the DA, like herself, realise that they are part of the problem of lack of transformation, the sooner we can all begin to move forward in one direction.
The DA claims to be running the most efficient and least ‘corrupt’ province, yet such efficiencies do not significantly benefit the majority in the Western Cape who are African, Coloured and poor. We still hear of apartheid-style forced removals of shack dwellers in the Western Cape. Income inequality in the Western Cape is staggering in spite of how ‘efficient and least corrupt’ the DA is.
These are the sad realities that we cannot ignore nor can we pretend they do not exist. They are the consequence of racist policies of the past; and to address them, Mazibuko, should acknowledge that race is an important factor and begin to challenge the ‘pro-white privilege thinking’ within her own party. We cannot afford to have beautiful young minds like her championing counter-productive and anti-transformation agendas. The DA will remain steeped its pro-white privilege traditions if Afrcan leaders like Mazibuko do not become architects of change from within. The attitude and mindset of those in the DA needs to transform in order that the broader agenda of transformation registers in their political conscience.
Mazibuko needs to wake up and smell the coffee!