Disclaimer: this article is written by Kim Heller and was originally published in the Weekly Xpose.
Being white in South Africa is a crying shame. The wholesale participation of white South Africans in marches against President Zuma is not a mark of anti-corruption solidarity. It is a mass demonstration of a moral hypocrisy and bankrupcy which is so often the handy preserve of the privileged.
I found the extravagant outcry from whites, who lined South Africa’s streets (the paved ones, of course), last week to protest against a standing President very vulgar. If the President is guilty of any ethical or governance misconduct, he must be held accountable, like any other South African citizen, by the courts of the country and by the people of the country. I am not standing for or against President Zuma. I am simply saying that for white South Africans, who have never accepted culpability for the carnage of apartheid and colonialism, to be omnipresent in such a march is disturbing to me. I will remember Friday 7 April 2017 as a world-wide screening of the reactionary state of white South Africa in a post-apartheid era.
If we were truly interested in South Africa, it’s people and its future wellbeing, surely we would focus on giving back stolen land and wealth with the same enthusiasm as we have for anti-Zuma marches?
As white South Africans, we have yet to step forward, in a collective burst of ethical consciousness, to facilitate the return of land and wealth, stolen by our forefathers through force, not facilitation. We have not shed many white tears for the black pain we have caused or cried over the millions of dreams we have shattered in this country. We have never marched for the fundamental re-engineering and transformation of our structurally racist economy, rather we have sanctioned and thrived on the executive pay package of apartheid and colonial plunder, without any protest. We have enjoyed the comfort zone of privilege without crying out, in outrage, about the open-pits of poverty that mock the very face of our democracy.
The shame of being white in South Africa, weighs heavily on me, especially on days like this.
In a win for white South Africans, the Rainbow Nation jackpotted privilege in 1994. I have written previously that the Rainbow Nation was an arranged marriage, consummated without revolutionary romance, to ensure that white power and privilege maintained an oppressive choke on the throat of the South African economy. In a very interesting analysis by Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi, entitled ‘Shutdown Campaign is all about protecting white privilege’ the Minister says the following:
“Somehow, the mass democratic movement led by the ANC was hoodwinked and bought into the ephemeral hype of rainbowism. The liberation movement failed to appreciate the extent to which class, ethnic, and racial interests are entrenched in our country. This should have been expected. It would require a heavenly alchemy to change centuries old racial prejudice overnight. But no real change was built on miracles. The notion of a miracle nation was nothing more than misguided tranquilizing drug. Unfortunately the country fell for it”.
And now, the latest ‘drug’ in the subduing of radical economic transformation and true liberation in our country, is the Save South Africa campaign. Minister Faith Muthambi has argued that the Shutdown South Africa campaign is not about saving South Africa, but about the protection of white interests and privilege. She says ‘it comes as no surprise to find so-called former revolutionaries in the company of the most racist detractors of a legitimate government. Their closeness to white monopoly capital speaks volumes’.
The Save South Africa umbrella is one under which white South Africans find shelter and comfort. It is a place where whiteness in a post-apartheid era finds its voice. In the melody of attacks on President Zuma, the Guptas and Brian Molefe, and more recently the new Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, no harsh tones are ever heard against those implicated in apartheid era corruption and economic crimes. Amidst the aroma of righteous indignation, there is no project plan to demand that financial institutions pay back the money. There is a convenient muteness on radical economic transformation and land return.
To me, Save South Africa is ideologically incoherent, fuelled by a bizarre blend of UDF and Apartheid nostalgia, as liberals and reactionaries march alongside ANC stalwarts. The Rainbow Nation, and its suite of marketing campaigns which include the Save South Africa and National Shutdown campaigns, ensures that white privilege remains King, and will never deliver a free South Africa. The truth is that the Rainbow Nation, like apartheid and colonialism, downgraded black interests to junk status. We need a formula that puts blacks first. I am not convinced that the ruling party has the appetite for this. All I know is that true patriots will know that the time has come to shut down the Rainbow Nation.
— Kim Heller (@kimheller3) April 18, 2017
Kim Heller is a media and political strategist and strong advocate for radical economic transformation.