BOKAMOSO | Malema’s incendiary comments should serve as a red flag to us all

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“We are not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least for now…” Julius Malema’s comments, made on Monday 7 November after appearing in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court on two charges of violating the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1957 for urging land invasions, are hugely irresponsible given that Malema is an influential public figure. This racially charged rhetoric, suggesting that the slaughter of white people may become necessary in the future, is reckless incitement and should be strongly condemned by all South Africans.

We at the DA reject it outright as being divisive, dangerous and entirely against the national interest. Accordingly, the DA has reported him to the SA Human Rights Commission for investigation and recourse, and they have confirmed that they will address the matter.

The proliferation of social media has highlighted many incidents of overt racism in our society, including Penny Sparrow’s offensive racist remarks, Malema’s incendiary comments and the “coffin assault” incident, in which two white men forced a black man into a coffin and threatened to set it alight for trespassing on their property.

All of these instances are the most visible examples of a pervasive racism that still persists in South Africa today. These actions betray their perpetrators’ ignorance of our history and ingratitude for our 1994 consensus. They are extremely insulting and hurtful towards black people, the vast majority of whom still suffer the daily hardships and indignities of a society that still locks them out and denies them opportunity. And where they are aimed at white South Africans, they are also hurtful and provide fertile ground for fear and bitterness.

We must capacitate the current legislation, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA), to punish and deter perpetrators of racism. But the DA rejects the proposed Hate Speech Bill, a bad piece of legislation with good intentions. It is unconstitutional in that it curbs freedom of expression. It could even be used to abuse the judicial system to promote political and personal agendas.

While Malema’s comments are unacceptable, it is also true that they are rooted in very real and painful social realities that South Africa can and must address as a matter of great urgency. That is the only way to ensure a peaceful, non-racial future.

Because the fact is, our government has failed to redress Apartheid’s legacy. It has failed to reduce race-based inequality and open up opportunities for black people to get ahead in life. It has failed to take on SADTU, whose vice-like grip on our education system is strongest and most destructive in our poorest schools. It has failed to adequately fund higher education for poor, black students. It has failed in its efforts at effective land reform. It has failed to provide the policy coherence and political stability that would inspire confidence in investors. And it has thus failed to produce inclusive, job-creating economic growth.

And so while apartheid may be history, the racism that nurtured and sustained it continues to this day, itself nurtured and sustained by persistent race-based inequality. It opens the way for populists such as Malema and Zuma to practice divisive, race-based identity politics in their quest for power. Just a few days ago, Edward Zuma, the president’s son, said: “We want economic liberation and if it means…. we have to fight for it and kill people, so be it. We will kill people to attain this economic liberation”.

Our interim constitution stated: “This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence and development opportunities for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief or sex.”

We must continue to cherish this ideal of a society in which race is not an important defining characteristic of people’s spatial distribution, economic circumstances or educational attainments. We cannot allow populist politicians to subvert our 1994 project of reconciliation. We cannot fight racism with more racism any more than we can fight hatred with more hatred. Rather, we must put our effort into demanding clean, accountable, responsive government that can open opportunities to all.

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  • NoVOR

    There is a huge difference between racism such as the Penny Sparrow incident and inciting racial violence. You can hardly compare the two incidents with Malema’s call to violence, especially in light of the horrific attacks that are happening to white farmers and other soft targets on a daily basis. I support you in your vision Mr Maimane but see a large shift of white votes away from the DA if it continues to ignore and remain silent on the real atrocities that are happening in our country.

  • jojo

    Race is the only card corrupter s /losers/crooked people have got .Distracts so you dont see the corruption .
    Now jz son, Fred Komalo latest rant on biz news, all pushing for civil war. Sad that will effect economy ,people run out of steam,become regressive,not progressive. Long road ahead

  • ProudlyFemale

    There are many of us that don’t understand racism because we don’t feel it. I forget the racism of white people and often get upset when globally whites are labelled under one banner as racists. Then I see something that shocks me and reminds me. But I am SO aware that it happens both ways. What black people do to white farmers is an atrocity in itself. This world is not a racially harmonious place, not here in SA or anywhere else. And its not just colour based either, culturism is worse. Its a fact that a black man can wear a slogan saying proud to be black and that is acceptable, but a white man wearing a slogan proud to be white…. oh my word, can you imagine???!!!! EDUCATION is so so important. It should be FREE for anyone who cannot afford it. It should be based on income. Education is the rock of any nation and its economy. In education tolerance and understanding should be on the curriculum. Kids should be taught that colour is only skin deep. Cultures need to be understood so that tolerance follows. BUT BUT BUT everyone should be taught that something you work for should never be ripped away using violence and unfortunately we have a culture here in SA that only know that way. I worry and I’m scared, because one of these days, I truly think we WILL have civil war

  • Chris Nortje

    The bigger problem here is that people who can actually make a difference are fed up and are leaving the country in droves with their capital. Zuma’s ANC has created an economic climate that big business, intellectuals and inovators consider too hostile to even bother anymore. Then there is also a culture of victimhood that has psychologically crippled the majority of South Africans. What I see is millions of poor people with an external locus of control, blaming the entire world for their problems, unable to pull themselves up. This is a symptom of their victimhood, and our leaders are feeding it, actually propagating it, instead of giving hope. And when I talk about hope I’m not talking about more grants. Such rewards only maintain this culture of victimhood. What we need is a leader who can end this eternal cycle by getting people to rise up and to start improving their own lives. Institutionalised racism barely exists anymore, but in the minds of some people it does. And so the mind needs to be defeated first. Therefore we need a psychologist as a leader, not another oportunistic politician who uses the psychological weakness of our people to win an office. This constant focus on victimhood is killing this country. We need to stop being victims. We need to grow tougher skins. And if you say it’s easy for a privileged white man to talk, then I say stop seeing yourself as my victim. I want you to succeed. I’m not your enemy.

    • Desiree Halse

      Psychologists are human too.

      • Chris Nortje

        We’re all human, but not all of us have the ability to fix this country. The difference between a healer and a politician is their agenda. The agenda of most politicians is to ride the emotional state of the people like a wave to power, saying what he believes will resonate with them. That is fine if people are positive, but when people are broken and desperate such a politician is no better than a demon whispering in your ear, making things worse.

        Opposed to that, the agenda of a psychologist/healer is to make the weak strong again so they can stand up and do what needs to be done to dig themselves out of the pit of despair. Steve Biko would’ve been such a leader.

        The likes of Zuma and Malema are parasites, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they only say what they think people would want to hear or things to stir people up. They don’t care about rationale or reason, but rather exploit the emotions of people.

        So yes, psychologists are also human, but their agenda is to fix the souls of the broken so those people can function in society and contribute positively.

  • Banjo Bob

    The only thing the government needs to do is create the conditions necessary to grow the economy and create jobs. Once people have a proper job they will sort out their own problems be it land, educational fees etc. They don’t need the government to ride in on a big (dare I say) white horse to save them. But of course they aren’t actually interested in helping the people….. in fact it’s useful to have people poor and needy so that they can promise all sorts of things to them (but not actually deliver on) so that they can win elections, stay in power and continue milking the gravy train…. and then blaming whites that they could not deliver on their promises because clearly whites still control the government, the army, the navy, the air force, the police force, the judiciary, the state owned enterprises…… Perfect isn’t it? When it works those in power can take the credit, when it doesn’t whites get blamed…. its the PERFECT political situation !!!

    • Desiree Halse

      Lots of those who go into politics do it at great personal sacrifice and with clean noble purpose! Try it and see!

  • glorymouse

    Agreed – Fighting negatives with other negatives is a circular motion going nowhere – all it does is lock horns and nobody wins. Why can we not emphasize the positives AS WELL, to counterbalance the false and ugly construct of ‘racism’? Perhaps we also need to seek a principle – such as Unity-in-Diversity or something similar, then the ugly divisiveness. Every day life in our country we experience so many instances of fellowship, humour, kindness and courtesy across the board – in shopping malls, at work and in the street.

    • Desiree Halse

      Thank god for that too. So much love tolerance and goodwill on the human ground

  • LG

    As someone myself who has grown up in non racial Swaziland I’m appalled at the comments going on in New South Africa from both black people as well as white people. Swaziland nor Botswana or even Naminia would never allow this to happen and the most recent comments by Malema are shocking to say the least, and more especially coming from a public figure. I have also logged a personal complaint with the SAHRC regarding his inflammatory comments.

    • Desiree Halse

      What happens there?

      • LG

        It simply doesn’t happen in Swaziland because there’s a mutual respect for one another amongst all race groups. We all consider ourselves as equals and racism therefore isn’t problem amongst ourselves.

  • chrisnel

    well he is doing what Nelson Mandela sung: “kill the farmer, kill the boer”

  • Ludwig Churr

    Dear DA. I wish to engage on this. Will you?

  • Paul Chinchen

    There is a greater need to strengthen our free-market economy than there is to do anything else. There is also a need to build up the morale of South Africans and to reinforce the bonds between us. Division, in society just as in economics is a bad thing.