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.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. (1) Should we not compare employment figures across races – why total population size? Does it minimize the legacy argument? Could it give ammunition for the argument that if white unemployment is so relatively low – what is the big threat of EE?

    (2) One of the “better” “tropes” is not that the DA’s nonracialism denies race, but that it very much acknowledges it in South African social reality but therefore wants to ideologically shape / abstract it…Not that it is blind, but that it wears deliberately tainted spectacles…I happen to think it is true for most supporters and ideologically relevant to this type of liberalism’s abstraction / idealist political framework.

    (3) Really – Apartheid vs Germany? Again this example in itself misses so much of the Apartheid argument…

  2. Rasontkenning is ‘n strategie wat deur die klassieke liberalisme uitgedink is en aangewend word om linkses se rasobsessie teen te staan.
    Dit help egter nie om een leuen (die ANC-EFF en BLM se rasobsessie) met ‘n ander leuen (die DA, IRR en ACDP se ras- en volksontkenning) te beveg nie, selfs al glo jy verkeerdelik dat ras- (en volks-)ontkenning die Bybelboodskap is.

    • I want to know too! Maybe a/the leading global paper/s set/s the tone by focusing on one particular issue and blowing it out of proportion? Then there is the fact that these days many papers belong to the same stable and the owner decides what goes into them.

  3. I believe that IQ plays a significant role in one’s wealth. For example, I think there are far fewer poor people among people with an IQ above 110, than among those with an IQ below 90.

  4. Racism definition: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” Is it even remotely, typically possible for an 8% minority of the population to marginalise a 92% majority of the population in a democratic society or are we really seeing intra-race “have” vs “have-not” marginalisation?

  5. Funny, I think it’s asking a lot to believe that the DA still has minority support at all. This is given the dip in DA support that matches the spike that the VF+ enjoyed during the last election. The DA’s core support is largely black middle class voters, which comes as no surprise given that it was never a minority party, and just by pure demographics, any political party worth mentioning would have a core constituency of black voters in some socio-economic situation. That last part is very telling: Race is not a proxy for socio-economic circumstance in our country, no matter the agitprop. Only racists believe that. The Born-Frees care even less about race as a proxy for anything, and it isn’t really a proxy for anything except the hair care products that you might need to use.

    There’s no rhyme or reason to believe that having a person from race x qualifies them more for any employment. Even less so to believe that it is restitution for anything. Hire the best person for the job that you feel fits your company culture. As a net exporter of skilled labour, South Africa and indeed no country anywhere in the world can afford to show anyone qualified the door.

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