Much of the mainstream media’s analysis of the decision of the Democratic Alliance (DA) not to use race as a proxy for disadvantage has been astounding.
Respected analysts have gone on an emotional tirade, calling it, among other things ‘race denialism’.
One said ‘(policy) discussion is an indulgence they [the DA] don’t have’. (This from an ‘analyst’ who, in a television interview, said that Apartheid was worse than the Holocaust because it lasted longer!).
Claims were made that ‘South Africans believe that race indeed is a proxy for disadvantage’ and that ‘the DA is not better positioned now to make a positive impact on South Africa’.
It was said that the ‘DA’s core voters – racial minorities – will love the new policies. The removal of race as a criterion for anything, especially redress, will be strongly supported. Within these groups there are individuals with a sincere commitment to liberal democracy. But for the rest, liberalism will provide the respectable cover for race denialism’. (My underlining).
Among other opinions was one saying that the DA’s policy change has something to do with ‘(the) refusal to acknowledge that the privilege most white people enjoy today is the result of the unearned benefits of apartheid and colonialism’. And it was argued that the ‘removal of race-based redress will affirm suspicions that the DA’s real agenda is to defend white privilege by denying that it exists’.
The DA’s decision supports none of these bizarre claims: what this decision means is that the African National Congress (ANC) policy of race-based advancement has been a failure. The DA has decided to do things differently.
Twenty-six years of Black Economic Empowerment have been an abject failure for the majority of poor South Africans, who are mostly black.
Financial adviser Magnus Heystek estimated recently that those who have actually benefited from BEE number no more than 30 000 people.
Black middle class
The inequality gap between the poor and the rich has widened, but chiefly because of the growth of the black middle class. Colleague Marius Roodt commented in a report in 2019, based on a StatsSA report, that if all white people and their money disappeared tomorrow, inequality in South Africa would increase.
Let’s do a little numerical exercise to see how much of a threat whites are to blacks in competing for jobs. We use the mid-year population estimates by Stats SA for 2019.
The total black population (Africans, Coloureds, Indians/Asians) is 54 123 016
The total white population is 4 652 006
The percentage of whites in the total population is 7.91%
(For the sake of this illustration, let’s assume that the number of whites currently in or joining the job market are those between the ages of20 to 64.)
Whites competing for jobs total 1 555 290
Blacks competing for jobs total 27 562 659.
Thus, the percentage of whites competing for jobs is 5.6% of the total workforce.
There is no way that whites can prevent blacks from being employed in any meaningful way whatsoever, even in an economy as devastated as ours. There are nowhere near enough whites to deprive deserving blacks of jobs. This country now needs all the participation it can get.
Very few employers are going to discriminate against potential black employees on the basis of race. If they do, they can face a barrage of equality and labour laws that the government has put in place just for this purpose.
Whites who were born after 1990 cannot in any way be held responsible for apartheid or its depredations. These 531 635 people make up 1.8% of the work-seeking population.
So it is ridiculous for every important measure in South African life to be judged on the basis of race – which has resulted in miniscule benefits for the poor.
Revenge and punishment
The underlying ethos for race-based measures was revenge and punishment, which has been exacerbated by quotas. And, let’s make no mistake, they are quotas based purely on population representation. The notion of ‘original sin’ on the part of whites ensures eternal punishment, with the sons paying for the sins of the fathers. It is contrary to the ANC’s ethos of race nationalism to reward businesses for advancing benefits to the disadvantaged. Its only response is punishment.
The repeated scapegoating of whites by the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa has failed to prevent its destruction of the economy. Under the ANC, redress is not about advancing poor blacks; it’s about disadvantaging whites.
Politicians and the bulk of public service employees do not require any BEE, B-BBEE or any variant thereof. They are in the middle or upper classes. The people who need it are the poor and they aren’t getting it. They are falling so far behind in the ANC’s vision that black-on-black inequality is growing.
For many decades, the IRR has administered a bursary scheme for potential university students from disadvantaged backgrounds; it is instructive. Race was never used as a criterion: potential and disadvantage were the criteria. The result? Some whites received bursaries, but the vast number of beneficiaries were black, including former president Nelson Mandela, Marina Xaba-Mokoena, Philip Kgosana and Nonceba Lubanga.
And the absurdities? The Department of Labour’s obsession with demographics keeps making the lives of engineering companies more difficult, because they don’t employ enough black females (they probably don’t employ ‘enough white female’ workers either).
On the other hand, a competent black female professional may fail to get a position because the ‘quota’ for black women has been met, even though the black woman is the best person for the job.
On his own merits
Patrice Motsepe is the fourth richest man in South Africa. Surely his worth no longer needs to be measured by the extent to which his companies fulfil the requirement for Sanlam to be B-BBEE-compliant in terms of its recent deal to become one of the largest black-empowered asset management companies in the country. Surely a man like Motsepe would be able to enter into such a deal on his own merits?
It’s a pathetic trope for the DA’s critics that not using race to discriminate is somehow to deny that race exists. There is no link. Race denialism is not our problem; race obsession is.
Part of the reason Germany became the economic powerhouse that it is today, is that despite launching the bloodiest war in history which included genocide on an industrial scale, the descendants of Germans who lived during the war years did not have the sins of their fathers visited upon them.
In 2020, if over 90% of the population can only prosper if 7% of the population must keep paying for apartheid, then there really is no hope for this country.