‘‘That which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary’ John Milton, Areopagitica (1644)

Counterpoint, a new occasional feature on the Daily Friend, seeks to match the wisdom Milton expressed in his great defence of free speech: that the best ideas emerge from scrutiny and argument. Guest opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Daily Friend or of the IRR.

South Africa is in the grip of collective insanity. The evidence of our abject failings taunts us wherever we look. A few hardy souls resolutely remonstrate with the rest, trying vainly to insert logic and fact into the evidence, but few want to hear. Many have given up, packing their bags instead to start afresh in a saner world. Those who remain risk becoming, in Pink Floyd’s phrase, ‘uncomfortably numb’.

Occasionally, for the briefest of moments, the sun breaks through the clouds to offer brilliant clarity. These are the moments we must seize upon if we are to be saved.

The case of Glen Snyman, a coloured citizen of the Western Cape who learned he was to be charged with fraud for describing himself as ‘African’, is just such a moment.

Far too many hours spent on ‘Groundhog Day’ Twitter mean I have been exposed to every convoluted justification for racial classification there is. Your chances of inducing a remorseful confession from Lucifer himself are better than convincing the average South African that positive racial discrimination is a really bad idea for everyone. Not even 64% unemployment and a BEE billionaire president register in the argument.

Can forcing someone to explain how Glen Snyman is not African achieve what two decades’ worth of economic data could not? Snyman’s case is the embodiment of all that is wrong with South Africa’s so-called ‘transformational agenda’. Surely even its greatest fans, if just for a fleeting moment, can grasp that?

No-one willing to publicly justify fraud charge

The glare of international media attention ensured that the charge against Snyman was dropped, and no-one was going to try and publicly justify it. But the system under which he was charged remains firmly intact. On the very day his charge was dropped, thousands of other life-altering decisions throughout South Africa were determined primarily upon the basis of race.

The so-called ‘transformation agenda’ is a virus that has corrupted our nation’s soul. Its motives are anything but pure, and are never openly acknowledged. These motives are, of course, fully understood, but like the unmentionable figure in the Harry Potter movies, they may not be spoken out loud. We need a Snyman for us to even acknowledge they exist. That is why Glen Snyman’s case had to be settled so urgently. Hard truths must not linger in plain sight.

South Africa is a deeply unequal country, overrun with poverty and despair, where race, in many instances, determines opportunity. However, South Africa is also blessed with all the ingredients necessary to address those issues within a generation. Transformation, as South Africa practises it, isn’t the solution, it is the problem.

In South Africa, transformation is simply an alias for black African nationalism.

“We, the people of South Africa … believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it”

Do we believe that? Of course we don’t – it is a barefaced lie. The average South African voter doesn’t believe it, the ruling party certainly doesn’t believe it. President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t believe it when he spoke of ‘our people’ in Parliament while referring to black South Africans. Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma didn’t mean it when they referred to ‘settlers’ and how our problems all started in 1652. Black twitter doesn’t believe it when, with monotonous regularity, it demands that white South Africans ‘go home’.

I can’t find the section in the Constitution where it says ‘seniority will be awarded according to the date of your ancestors’ arrival’, but if I could, I’d be sending it to Glen Snyman. He’d probably find it quite beneficial. Ramaphosa, Malema, Zuma and co., perhaps not so much so.

Transformation rabbit hole

The African National Congress (ANC) is sold on ‘transformation’, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) even more radically so. Mmusi Maimane quit the Democratic Alliance (DA) when his efforts to lead the party further down the transformation rabbit hole backfired, while Herman Mashaba was seemingly converted to transformation once in coalition government with the EFF. Koos Malan, professor of public law at the University of Pretoria, went on record to say that ideologically fair judgments are no longer possible at the Constitutional Court since it too has fully embraced the doctrine of ‘transformation’.

Coloured citizens, like Glen Snyman, suffer by far the most under the transformation agenda. Affirming Prof Malan’s position, the following quote from a minority judgment in the employment equity case against the Department of Correctional Services is chilling. Judge Nugent, supported by Judge Cameron, wrote: “I see no rationality in restricting half the population of the Western Cape to 8.8% of the employment opportunities in that province”, noting later that “in the Western Cape, 9 of each 100 opportunities are made accessible to some 2.8 million coloured people, while 1.9 million black people have access to 73.”

That this is irrational and unjust must surely be self-evident? That two lower courts found against the applicants before the case came before the Constitutional Court, and that this was a minority judgment – which by inference suggests 75% of the ConCourt judges didn’t agree with it – is mind-blowing.

Racial resentment

This is exactly the issue championed by the Cape Coloured Congress and which causes both intense anger and racial resentment; employment opportunities in coloured neighbourhoods being given predominantly to black job-seekers.

South Africa has seen better than most the evil of racial classification. That we should then be hell-bent on repeating it, submitting the likes of Glen Snyman to the denial of his heritage and his identity based solely upon the colour of his skin, is unacceptable.

At its recent policy conference the DA announced its intention to renounce dealing with people on the basis of their race. It is therefore deeply ironic that Glen Snyman was discriminated against – until the charge was dropped – by the DA-run Western Cape education department.

In a tweet on the subject, DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, the author of the DA’s policy on non-racialism, confided that despite being black African, she randomly ticked racial classification boxes, hoping that she would be taken to court over the issue. This is very noble, but it isn’t nearly enough.

Shouldn’t implement it

If the DA does not believe in racial classification, then, where it governs, it shouldn’t implement it. Surely the DA can see for itself the injustice described in Judges Nugent and Cameron’s statements? The DA must do more than sweep Glen Snyman’s charges under the carpet and observe Gwen Ngwenya randomly ticking boxes. They must make a stand.

I would like to see them defy the government outright on this issue and force a constitutional crisis. If they don’t have the courage to do that, then they must implement a ‘work to rule’ and encourage all Western Cape citizens to tick ‘African’ on the racial classification boxes whenever they are called upon to express their race, thus rendering the system dysfunctional. They might want to conduct an audit of Western Cape government employees, and in doing so determine that they are all African. Thereafter they must employ on merit and encourage businesses operating in the province to do the same.

The DA-led Western Cape has blindly implemented national government policy which neither the DA, nor the electorate who appointed them, agree with. And this, a national government the people of the Western Cape are adamant they don’t want, and which they have done all they can to rid themselves of. That must change. The Western Cape DA-led provincial government must be more than just administratively efficient, it must serve the electorate who appointed them. That includes making a stand on matters of great principle.

Anger is palpable

As a group pursuing Cape independence and working on the ground in the Western Cape, we can tell you first hand that the level of anger is palpable and people are turning against the DA. Increasingly, the DA is seen as a party serving the interests of the rest of South Africa at the expense of the people of the Western Cape. Multiple surveys have confirmed that the Western Cape wants non-racialism. The DA now says it does too, but people want more than just lip service. There are thousands of Glen Snymans out there who haven’t yet fallen under the spotlight of the media. Who is going to stand up for them?

If the DA wants to keep on governing the Western Cape they would do well to read Aesop’s fable, ‘The Dog and its Reflection’.

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

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Phil Craig is a family man, a serial entrepreneur and a co-founder of the Cape Independence Advocacy Group. He is working towards the creation of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’, a first world country at Africa’s southern tip, bringing freedom, security and prosperity to all who live there, regardless of their race, religion and culture.