The Democratic Alliance (DA) has at last rejected racial preferencing as a matter of policy, and will now help those in need regardless of colour. There has been a storm of outrage from journalists and politicians. There are two characteristics of this debate: the hypocrisy of those who want racial preferencing, and the reluctance of the DA to spell out clearly, with examples, why racial preferencing is a disaster, especially for poor black people.

The debate is characterised by vagueness and dishonesty. Nobody gives examples. It’s all waffly abstraction about ‘the need to recognise race’ or ‘undoing the injustices of the past’. I want to scream, ‘What are you talking about? Show me in your life how you have addressed the racial injustices of the past. Start with education: what school did you send your children to?’  

The racial policies of apartheid damaged the lives of all black people. The racial policies of the African National Congress (ANC) have damaged the lives of poor black people, the majority of our population. They might be called Apartheid II, and make race a criterion for appointment (affirmative action) and aim to have the racial proportions in every profession the same as in the population at large (employment equity).

They have been used since 1994, or indeed before, since employment agencies before 1994, wanting to appease the ANC before it came to power, sought black professionals because they were black. These policies have been a calamity. Our economy has been crippled by them. Eskom has been damaged because of ill-qualified affirmative engineers and technicians. Municipalities providing water and sanitation to poor black people have failed them by replacing white engineers and managers with affirmative action ones. Poor black people suffer while ANC mayors ride past in new BMWs and white commentators applaud the success of ‘transformation’.

Merit alone

Worst is education. According to affirmative action, race should be a criterion for the appointment of teachers. Appointment on merit alone is ‘right-wing’. Since whites are 8% of the population, schools should only have 8% white teachers. Every wealthy parent who believes in ‘race-based redress’ should send his or her children to schools where 92% of the teachers are black, appointed by affirmative action. How many do? As far as I know, none. Since I pressed for examples, let me give some names. President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Naledi Pandor, Julius Malema and every Member of Parliament all send their children to schools where most of the teachers are white, appointed on merit alone.

On the radio I heard Stephen Grootes of SAFM castigating the DA’s switch from racial policies; in the Sunday Times I read Denis Worrall and David Grant doing the same; ditto writers in the Daily Maverick; ditto Mmusi Maimane, a former leader of the DA. I challenge any of these people: where do you send your children to school? Where 92% of teachers are black? If not, why not?

Racial affirmative action does not correct the injustices of the past. It perpetuates them. Black people have the same innate ability as white people but, when a black person is appointed on merit, the stigma of affirmative action brands him as inferior. Racial preferencing has doomed poor black children since 1994, giving them perhaps an even worse education than Bantu Education. SADTU, the callous teaching trade union controlling black state education, knows this, and its leaders send their own children to Model C or private schools. The ANC destruction of black education is a crime. It has helped to wreck our economy, which is starved of skills, unable to find workers for the modern technological world.

The slogan of the rich people who support racial preferencing is this: ‘Affirmative action is good for you but not for me.’ You must send your children to a school where 92% of teachers are black but I must send my children to schools where most of the teachers are white. For the sake of our country and all of our children, everyone, poor or rich, black or white, should be able to send their children to the best schools regardless of race, where the teachers are appointed on merit alone. Poor black parents should be able to send their children to the same schools where Cyril Ramaphosa, Naledi Pandor, Julius Malema and Stephen Grootes send their children.

Poverty and deprivation

Most of our people live in poverty and deprivation, and most of the deprived are black but we must address their deprivation not their skin colour (which is a fact of nature, and should be a matter of pride or indifference but never of shame). We must spend more on schools with poor amenities. If you are awarding entrances to a university, you must give preference to a pupil from a poor township school over one from Bishops or Michaelhouse if they have the same matric marks. You must ignore their race.

The DA knows this. So why don’t they spell it out clearly, simply, loudly, unashamedly – with examples?

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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