In the week that Statistics South Africa revealed that the economy had shrunk by an annualised 51% in the second quarter of 2020, the sole focus of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was on a hair advert with racist overtones – and on physically attacking many of the stores in the Clicks chain responsible for the advert’s release.

This focus on racism was useful in distracting attention from the economic disaster caused by the lockdown. It also helped to shift scrutiny away from the African National Congress (ANC) – Accused no 1 on corruption – to racism as Culprit no 1 in the problems confronting the country. 

The Clicks campaign was, of course, driven by the EFF rather than the ANC. But the EFF is the ANC Youth League in different guise and is often used by the ANC to promote positions the ruling party fully endorses but finds it politic at times to play down.

In addition, the ANC itself has long pushed the view that racism is South Africa’s most important problem. This has made it deeply intolerant of people who take a different view – even when those people comprise a majority of black South Africans.

This reality came sharply to the fore in 2001, when the IRR commissioned a representative opinion poll on race-related issues. In the first question put to respondents, people were asked to identify the most serious unresolved problems they experienced. Some 58% of black people saw unemployment as the worst problem, while 38% highlighted crime and violence. By contrast, only 5% flagged racism as a key unresolved problem. 

Essop Pahad, minister in the presidency, was indignant. He dismissed the IRR’s findings as ‘foolish’ and claimed that racism was the cause of unemployment. But that is far too simplistic a view.  

Subsequent opinion polls commissioned by the IRR from 2015 to 2019 have all started with essentially the same question. Each time, black respondents have flagged unemployment as the most important unresolved problem – and by a large margin. Each time, the proportion of black people identifying racism as a key issue has been below 6%. In 2018 and again in 2019 it was down to 2%: and this despite a plethora of racial rhetoric from the ANC, the EFF, and many in the media.

But the ANC alliance refuses to heed what ordinary people have to say about racism – just as it refuses to heed their opposition to radical redistribution and their support for business-friendly policies.

The real barriers to upward mobility for black South Africans lie not in the alleged racism of the white minority but rather in a host of other challenges, including:

  • limited direct investment and anaemic growth;
  • escalating joblessness over many years;
  • bad schools and often uncaring teachers;
  • high rates of crime;
  • a dependency on the state which the ANC has done much to entrench;
  • debilitating perceptions of victimhood that undermine individual agency;
  • the erosion of family life, leading to widespread single parenthood and a preponderance of absent fathers; and
  • a mistaken reliance on racial quotas in employment equity (EE) and black economic empowerment (BEE) rules, which benefit a relatively small black elite while harming the great majority.

Instead of tackling these barriers – which is far more important and far more difficult to do – the ANC alliance is once again stepping up its anti-racism interventions. The minister of employment and labour is to be empowered to set racial targets for business in different sectors under the Employment Equity Amendment Bill. The scope for racial preferencing in state tenders is to be greatly expanded under the Public Procurement Bill, despite the massive looting the existing rules have already helped to spawn.

In the aftermath of the major protests in the United States (US) and elsewhere over the death at police hands of African-American George Floyd, the ANC alliance has also launched a new ‘struggle’ against racism in South Africa.

According to the ANC, all South Africans must endorse and participate in this campaign if they are to avoid complicity in racism. ‘If you are silent on racism, you are actually perpetuating it’, says ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte.

This statement comes straight out of the critical race theory (CRT) playbook in the US. CRT has for decades been spreading from American universities into the media, civil society, business, the professions, and many other important institutions.

CRT’s influence has expanded exponentially in the aftermath of Mr Floyd’s death. This is partly because of widespread public outrage at the way in which he died. But the rise of CRT also owes much to its increasing capacity to ‘cancel’ its critics – many of whom have found themselves demeaned, deplatformed, and dismissed for even indirectly disputing CRT perspectives.

Just as the ANC alliance does in South Africa, so CRT pretends that racism is the most important problem in the US. It claims that racism is all pervasive, that it permeates every situation and every interaction – and that it is solely to blame for unequal outcomes between black and white Americans on skills, employment, income, and other indicators.

Strong upward mobility on the part of Chinese-Americans, Nigerian immigrants, and other ‘non-white’ people is ignored in the simplistic black:white binary on which CRT insists. Major practical barriers to upward mobility for African-Americans – similar to those evident here and ranging from poor schooling to crime and debilitating dependency – are also overlooked.

What relatively few Americans may realise is that CRT wants to eliminate not only racism but also capitalism. According to one of its most influential apostles, Ibram X. Kendi, author of a best-selling book on How to Be an Anti-Racist, racism and capitalism are evil ‘conjoined twins’ which developed together and must be destroyed together.

CRT thus has essentially the same goals as the national democratic revolution (NDR) to which the ANC alliance has been committed since the 1960s. The NDR seeks a socialist future and so also aims at destroying capitalism. It too uses the supposed fight against racism to demand equal outcomes, hobble growth, worsen unemployment, and bend society to its will.  

CRT and the NDR have been clad in different camouflage in the US and South Africa, so as to take advantage of the images and analysis likely to resonate the most strongly within each.

But CRT and the NDR are simply different means towards the same collectivist and socialist goals. Both seek to eradicate the core Western principles that put the interests of the individual before those of the group, encourage voluntary exchange via the market, promote the free flow of information and ideas, and limit the overweening dominance of the state. Implementation of these principles has also brought about the greatest liberation from poverty the world has ever known.

Socialist hegemony is not what most Americans want, any more than it is what most South Africans seek. But it may nevertheless be what both countries in time confront unless the anti-racism mask is constantly stripped away to reveal the underlying anti-capitalist intent.

So the next time the EFF or the ANC beat the racist drum – whether over a flawed hair advert, or racial quotas, or on some other pretext – it is important to remember the real goal that lies beneath.

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  1. A great piece Dr Jeffery. Succinct , crystal clear and deadly accurate. The ANC are in complete denial of history and the facts. They are gleefully applying their own blinkers and are charging blindly for the cliff.

  2. “‘If you are silent on racism, you are actually perpetuating it’, says ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte.”

    I oppose the racism (and racecardism) of the ANC.

    Now Lyin’ Jess cannot call me silent.

  3. Racism world wide is an industry on its own.
    Without racism the whole purpose of many governments becomes irrelevant.
    How so you will enquire.
    It’s all contained in the challenges to upward mobility
    limited direct investment and anaemic growth;
    escalating joblessness over many years;
    bad schools and often uncaring teachers;
    high rates of crime;
    a dependency on the state which the ANC has done much to entrench;
    debilitating perceptions of victimhood that undermine individual agency;
    the erosion of family life, leading to widespread single parenthood and a preponderance of absent fathers; and
    a mistaken reliance on racial quotas in employment equity (EE) and black economic empowerment (BEE) rules, which benefit a relatively small black elite while harming the great majority.

    The ANC/EFF coalition hasn’t a clue on how to tackle & overcome these “challenges” and that makes racism the way out of having to use their non existent talents in problem solving & usual Marxist failures of governance.
    Without “racism” their failings will become very evident to a public looking for answers. That’s how revolutions start.
    These failures are perpetuated by each of the stated challenges.
    By perpetuating the racism that the population deems irrelevant the Government challenges are never going away.
    Think about it. All those challenges are interrelated and perpetuated.

  4. Further to my comment above, how would the ANC/ EFF coalition explain
    How Singapore which became an independent state in 1957 (I think it was),
    A state with no natural resources & led by one man until his death some5-10 years ago.
    In 1957 that state with no natural resources had a GDP of around $500.00 p.a. Today it’s around $60,000.00 p.a. Please also remember that Singapore has a multiculturaL population consisting of Malays, Chinese & Indians.
    Research that amazing state which is smaller than the City of London!
    Truly a miracle of hard work, rewards, foresight & brilliant governance largely delivered by a benevolent but strict Prime Minister.
    If only RSA had leaders with 5% of that man’s talents.
    One really needs to visit Singapore to appreciate that miracle!

  5. I absolutely support Ms Anthea’s view. On another platform discussing WC secession I wrote the following in response to another commentator lamenting that we must pull together and create a wonderful, inclusive SA:

    I hear what you say, but would you not consider the last 26 years as having tried to create a working democracy for all? The move to secede is an acceptance that it will never work. The ANC has a deep seated belief that socialism/communism is the way to go, while the other camp (be they blacks, whites, coloreds, Khoi etc) are capitalists and want to live in an economy that is free market and capitalist, and which does not have a stifling over-regulated centrist approach. That is the divide. Not blacks v whites. Secession is an acceptance that these two opposing ideologies can not co-exist. We have 26 years of trying behind us and no one can realistically argue, that this has been a success. The only solution then is to provide a part of the country where those holding a free market bent can practice their belief and way of life, while not interfering with those people who are of another view. What is wrong with that? On top of that, it has been made very clear to the capitalists that they are hated by the socialists/communists. The reason the WC has been mooted as a possible candidate, is because it is the only province in SA which the whites colonized first and adopted their free market capitalist beliefs in developing the Cape. The Khoi and San were here first, so are owed a leading seat at the table, in my view. It is international law that a people who identify with a certain way of life, have the right to self-determination. That is what we want.

    • Well said Andrea….so lets get behind these movements, all we need is 2million ticks in the block to force a referendum, by UN law….the thieves, liars and communists can have the rest, they will come begging for help sooner or later.

      • “… they will come begging for help sooner or later.”
        More likely they will come marauding with spears and blunt instruments.
        Whatever, it is vital for those of us who retain some semblance of sanity, to pursue and support CapeXit, as a matter of urgency.
        As I’ve said in related comments, NOTHING is impossible, and if we don’t at least try, we will simply never know.

  6. I agree with most of what Prof Jeffrey wrote. But her comment that “Both seek to eradicate the core Western principles that put the interests of the individual before those of the group …… is the slip of liberal edging that is showing. Rights entrenched in law that allegedly protect individuals are meaningless unless you have an impartial and affordable legal system you, as an individual can revert to for redress. In short, the individual is often powerless against the state or even pressure groups, unless he has the support system of others that subscribe to his value system, culture and language. Just note how effective Solidarity and Afriforum have acted as a group to protect the rights of individuals that have been wronged by ANC race driven redress policies.

    This is where I strongly differ from the liberal ideology. No man is an island, we all exist and survive as members of a group, initially and basically as a family member, but also as members of a team involved in various activities.

    In addition, we must realize that racism is an artificial construct, concocted by the communists in the 1930s as result of the anti-semitism in Germany. Skin colour is the most visible of differences between different ethnicities but also the most minor. Same biological descent leads to social cohesion fostered by common language, traditions, religion, and value systems. This commonality facilitate nation forming and nation building. Very little commonality prevents social cohesion and nations building but rather entrenches the US against THEM syndrome, the victim and oppressor duality.

    It is exactly because this is reality we have in Seffrica that we find ourselves in the position we are. Preaching outdated liberal theory is not going to change it. Liberalism is a very tender and fragile flower that has never yet acclimatized in Seffrica.

  7. So the real challenge is to get the majority to understand that the bottom line choice is between socialism and capitalism? If “Socialist hegemony is not what…most South Africans seek” why do the majority still vote ANC? The answer is ” that…racism is the ANC way out of having to use their non existent talents in problem solving & usual Marxist failures of governance”.
    Despite “the proportion of black people identifying racism as a key issue has been below 6%. In 2018 and again in 2019 it was down to 2%: and this despite a plethora of racial rhetoric from the ANC, the EFF, and many in the media” the majority still vote ANC
    This is another great article Dr. Jeffery but the role of the media and big business must somehow be adjusted. Voters have to have an alternative. Instead of continuously trashing the DA the Media should objectively present them as they really are – not perfect but an infinitely better alternative than the ANC.
    I cannot understand the kiss ass attitude of big business and the media towards the ANCEFF. They are totally incapable of righting the immense damage they have caused and they should be vilified and attacked at every turn.
    They are taking us quickly to total destruction. The ANC simply cannot be trusted with ANYTHING AT ALL – EVER!! Yet here we are paying our tax dutifully and facing even more stringent BBBEEE – guaranteeing failure

  8. BEE objectives has me somewhat confused, as it seems to favor those it claims it wants to disadvantage.

    Given: Market dominance trends to support the most efficient player in any market.
    Lets then take two teams.
    Team A is trained by a coach who kicks his students out of bed at 4 am, cold showers after a long run, and warm breakfast only after ticking all the boxes.
    Team B Coach is very sympathetic and lax in discipline. Meet you at 7:30 for breakfast and if you want to you can arrive a little late, no stress no worries.

    We all intuitively know team A is always going to overcome any obstacle as they are trained to be independent but worthy of their weight in achieving the teams objective, the coach ultimately becomes superfluous. Team B members will suffer a dependency and scatterbrain trap, the coach (patriarch) will always be necessary to get the team to focus and achieve a goal.

    The unfortunate result therefore of making it “easy” on some folks due to some irrelevant data, ie pigmentation, is to weaken those who accept the easy going style of team B. Market dynamics would not favor Team B and ultimately they would loose. The only effective method for Team B to survive is to eliminate team A. Catch 22 the harder you make it for team A the more efficient they become, your measurement results will always be showing you moving backwards from your target.

    What then is the goal? Once can only presume that the ultimate goal must be a system of extreme patriarchy. Serfs slaving for the those who are “destined to rule” by our betters and by handing out favors. Fundamentally a chiefdom model, that rewards those who appease the master.

    It is interesting to mark the development of a backlash among young entrepreneurs, who want BEE to be removed. They seek to be acknowledged for their prowess not a cheap slap on the back, “you made it because we gave you a 100 meter advantage, and you owe me” This is an insult for any self respecting person, no matter their pigmentation.

    Perhaps I am missing something, but this BEE thing seems to bite those it claims to assist, and it was designed to do just that.

    Have a beautiful day

  9. Racism world wide is becoming a haven for radicals to attack western culture and civilization and use the excuse to hide the true intentions of destabilizing Countries that are successfully growing economies and employment opportunities while also creating wealth for themselves and their Countries with which to support the less fortunate at home with social services and in many cases abroad and outside their Countries with financial Aid packages to prop up failing governments and providing aid relief to the citizens of the country being supported with aid such as food relief. Many such Citizens being those of Countries screaming Racism in some form or another whenever the opportunity presents itself.

    The SA Government is also one such Government and their racial constructed administration of services and social grants meant to be shared among all citizens have exposed the exploitation and sharing in the equal opportunity space and laws in the economical space as racially based which severely restricts growth of the economy with employment opportunities for all.

    The Government needs to move away from any attitude to redress past wrongs or introduce radical change as they serve no one or bring the effective change.

    Keeping a simple approach to allow every citizen to participate in a shared economy will bring more success at a radical change together with positive international opinion and investment.

  10. It is time South Africa secedes from the current political nightmare this country is being “dragged” through. Well stated Anthea – education of the uninitiated is the only way back to the beautiful people of this country can find it Soul again and the the Mzanzi that Nelson and Steve spoke about. Education in itself can banish poverty.

    The government works for its people. The people should have a say in the outcome. Uniting the country in common sense values will allow South Africans to lead the way into the future of Earth United in a Global Network as a free society.

    No more slavery under oppressive anything.

  11. My admittedly simplistic and simple view of racism is that it is an excuse, a shield, a weapon, a crutch exploited by those who cannot make it in life, for whatever reason.
    In at least the SA context:
    1) racism is also exploited by the anc/eff for devious political and ideological ends;
    2) my Zulu general factotum is a shining example of how a man, who did not know his parents and did not go to school (at all), has by dint of application and hard work taught himself to read and write, has built his own bricks and mortar house, among many other attributes. And, he is by no means a racist or communist.

  12. Mainstream media is mostly responsible for racism worldwide. Left wing facism seems to be the course it is presently following, very likely by the orders of Rupert Murdoch and other global elites who move from right to left whenever it financially benefits them.
    Mandela was also a racist. He spent decades, even through his presidency, flaunting his racist ANC black power clenched fist while ignorant, gullible masses (black, brown and white) cheered him on. He was a politician, a liar and con artist.
    We are being divided by racist agendas, those that believe the fake Covid-19 statistics and those that don’t and by political affiliation. This is what keeps this racist, Communist regime in power. The old power play of “divide and rule.”

  13. Racism as Culprit no1? Yes indeed, quite correct. Racism by the black majority as expressed through BEE and the myriad of other racist legislation and legitimised by the overwhelming black ANC voters is culprit no1 not least due to the fact that this racist legislation sanctions cadre deployment, corruption and incompetence and is inherently anti-merit.

    The minority in South Africa only want what the minority in the USA is demanding, equality and justice. Failing this self-determination is a universally recognised legitimate option.

  14. The world is divided into 2 basic groups – the “Have”s and the “Have-not”s.

    The “Have”s are those that see opportunity, come up with an innovative way of pursuing it and are extremely successful at it, which leads to them becoming wealthy.

    On the other hand, the “Have-not”s are too lazy to do anything for themselves, they prefer to sit back and demand that all their desires are satisfied without themselves having to contribute, which ultimately leads to them becoming poor.

    As time goes by, sooner or later, the “Have-not”s, because they do nothing all day long, start noticing all the nice things the “Have”s have and they become discontented, disillusioned and dissatisfied, in other words they become jealous of the “Have”s. They start asking questions like, “why do those people have something which we don’t?”.

    Then, one day, among their ranks, a Bully gets up and starts telling them that those “Have”s are selfish, racist, capitalist, exploiters of the “Have-not”s and they should demand, nay, insist that the “Have”s should recompense them for what they perceive to be their loss.

    Some of the “Have”s are idiots and believe that they must be guilty of what they’ve been accused of and therefore should be helping these “Have-not”s, especially since they also start believing the Bully’s rhetoric which accuses them of being extremely privileged and, you know, ach shame, the poor “Have-not”s don’t have jobs, houses, schools, clothes, food – so they start giving these things to the “Have-not”s.

    The “Have-not”s are quick to discover that the more they complain and accuse, the guiltier for some reason the “Have”s seem to feel – so they just demand more and more.

    However, some of the “Have”s do see the whole ruse for what it truly is, the “Have-not”s wanting stuff that they didn’t work for, but somehow believe they are entitled to. And the more these enlightened “Have”s reject these illogical and unfair demands, the more the “Have-not”s and their supporters accuse them of racism, capitalism, etc.

    Some 20 odd years ago, I read a neat little story about the Ants and the Grasshoppers – and not too long after, Disney actually made a move depicting the same story. The Ants work hard all summer collecting food and storing it away for winter, while the Grasshoppers just lounge around doing nothing and having fun eating everything in sight. So, when the winter comes and all the food on the veld is gone, the Grasshoppers demand that the Ants share their winter rations with them. And when the Ants refuse, the Grasshoppers attack the Ants’ nest and destroys it, because they believe they are entitled to the Ants’ food.

    Anybody with a lick of sense can see the similarity to the current situation in South Africa.

    • I am not sure I completely agree with the have not’s theory in total.

      One area that eats at the earnings of the poor is inflation especially if you fall in the lower income bracket where they do not have access to affordable capital or a system that supports them with above inflation related savings that guard their respective savings.

      One thing we’ve seen in the modern world is two exploits that are quite evil and exploit the poor.

      1) Purchase power eroded by inflation faster than what poor people can make or save it especially where a portion of your income is spent on those goods that have higher than inflation increases like food, water and electricity.
      2) Poorer people also pay proportionately more for access to capital with interest rates much higher than what a high income earner would pay. I once when to Capitec and asked for a loan with a <R100 000 pa income and one as an over R 1 000 000 income. I used the same work experience and address with only the ID's changed one mine and the other my wife's. The lower income garnered a loan quote of 17.5% more that the R1 000 000 quote. So the lower you are the more you pay for access to capital.

      The two above in my view will entrench inequality and keep the few that do abide by the entrepreneurial spirit though at a small scale poorer than the rest. I am not sure about others but in my mind the capitalist system should always protect or even improve purchasing power and allow capital to all to be priced at equal footing no matter where you come from.

      Be well.

  15. This author, and most others, fail to look at the root cause of these ills:
    1. Politics driven by the media, driven by the media bosses
    2. The swing vote e.g. in the USA Trump was the only one in decades who did not worry about the swing vote, although he was helped by it. No presidential candidate, Governor candidate, etc etc dare ignore the swing vote. That means the tail is is wagging the dog (i.e. the vociferous minority)

  16. Hard facts delivered in a gracious and non-vindictive manner…A pleasure to read. An opinion deserving of serious reflection and a call to wake-up and combat the universal, systematic erosion of each individual’s birthright to freedom of choice(agency).


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