“It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia” Sounds a Lot Like #AllLivesMatter

There are three sources of “alternative facts” we need to be wary of: the devil, Donald Trump and the ANC War-room.  And right now, I’m not so sure the last isn’t the first in disguise.

Last week, a lot of ANC comrades on my Facebook echoed President Zuma’s explanation that the planned march against illegal immigrants, and the subsequent violence, weren’t a manifestation of xenophobia but of people’s frustration at crime and a stagnant economy.

This presupposes crime and unemployment are a relatively new thing in South Africa.  “South Africans don’t really hate foreign nationals; they just hate the ones who are responsible for this recent explosion in crime and unemployment — which makes their enemy not foreign nationals, but crime and unemployment.”  For if crime and unemployment have been around for a long time, contrary to this explanation, it would mean foreign nationals are being punished in government’s place for government’s failures.

If a local and a foreigner committed the same crime, we’d be more likely to notice the foreigner doing it.  We’d even believe the foreigner invented this crime.  This is especially the case when said foreigner is darker skinned; then we’ll credit him with running the whole “black market” of vices and crimes that everyone, our own included, are implicit in.  Because black is the colour of evil and criminality.

Nowhere is this double-standard more revealed than in the complaint, “We tried reporting them to police, but the police were bribed.”  Were these bribable police one of “them” or one of “us”?  If one of us, then the difference between “them” and “us” only exists in our head so we can shift responsibility.  Our police took the bribes.  They took the proceeds of the crimes; this alone proves that “their” crimes are our crimes.  Furthermore,

We have two white men who own half of everything and a white populace who own almost everything else.

We have a black Zulu president with 783 corruption charges hanging over his head and a questionable cabinet behind him, which is also quite black South African.

We have done very little, collectively, to make this cabinet do its job and enforce the letter as well as the spirit of the legislation we have in place.  On paper, we have every reason to be a prosperous nation.  Why aren’t we?

We recently had an Indian family leave, peacefully, with the proceeds of alleged state capture.

Any relatively light-skinned race can get away with murder here.  But the split moment Africans of blacker skin tone are perceived to be running some “black market” of crimes and vices, we sanction marches against them that we know will turn violent.  If this isn’t a xenophobic-Afrophobic double-standard, then please tell me: what is xenophobia?  What would something have to look like to be Afrophobic?

Would Moses have to come down from the mountain to tell us, “Yes, this is Afrophobic”?  Would God’s voice have to boom it from heaven?  Please.

A dark-skinned vendor I used to buy fruit from at a street corner in Durban told me that whenever xenophobic attacks were happening, people, fresh from hunting foreigners, would glare at her and strike up conversations in Zulu — and she’d make sure to reply in the strongest Zulu accent she could pull off.  Because she knew she was being profiled.  She was being tested.

So yes, we, black people, are racially profiling other black people.  That’s what’s happening.  That is why people in Nigeria hate our guts.

If #AllLivesMatter is how many have denied the reality of structural racism, we are doing exactly the same thing when we say, “It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia.”

Please share and retweet @SKhumalo1987

Look out for my book — it’s coming soon!

Is Helen Zille Campaigning for the ANC?

If the Western Cape Premier and former DA Leader is merely confusing on Twitter, she was mystifying in her Daily Maverick opinionista contribution, From the Inside: Zuma’s Alternative Facts for the Alt-Left.

It can be read as saying Jacob Zuma and his ANC aren’t absolutely terrible for South Africa.  Things can work significantly well, even if it’s despite them.  They don’t have to be “stopped as soon as possible,” as the DA’s urgent messaging normally pleads; their influence can be bypassed.  As a matter of fact, Zuma could steal more credit for successes that have happened despite him instead of embarrassing our (otherwise functional) country in front of the world.

Gareth van Onselen pointed out a similar dissonance in the DA’s messaging when it lauded the ANC of Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.  Instead of positioning itself as fundamentally different from it at policy and implementation level, the DA was saying the ANC had a leadership crisis but could be left to run South Africa once that had been sorted.  That, van Onsenel argues, creates zero compelling incentive to switch for good.

Zille’s article mentions the Financial Mail’s “breathtaking exposé” on how “the Zuma network had used the State’s electricity generation-and-distribution monopoly to enrich the Zupta circle.”  Is she not reiterating what became broad public knowledge after State of Capture was released?  Since then, the ANC has said investigation on state capture has to include “white monopoly capital” and not just focus on brown-skinned beneficiaries of corruption.  The Premier acts as though she’s missed that more South Africans believe in the existence of “white monopoly capital” than before, and rightly or not, that her constituency has a log in its eye while pointing out specks in others’ eyes.

It is against this backdrop that the ANC’s unstated reason for pushing the Bankorp-ABSA uncovering, for revelling in rating agencies’ tacit admission of pro-West bias in Moody’s agreeing to pay a fine for its role in the 2008 meltdown, is it shows what’s commonly thought of as white power being as corrupt as what’s commonly thought of as black power.  Even former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has remarked on the increased frequency of the use of “white monopoly capital” in public conversations about justice.

This is ANC-style dog-whistle politics, messaging at a pitch mostly black people will hear.  The ruling party’s implicit ultimatum to its constituency is it has one of two possible futures to choose from.  The ANC-led future, which is hell, and a DA-led future is one in which government works well but the economy continues being defined by over 50 years’ worth of White Economic Empowerment.  This is black hell.

The article further plays into the ANC’s trap by dismissing affirmative action as “the fig-leaf Zuma calls Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, which is in reality a flimsy cover for bribe-based black elite enrichment” while failing to suggest alternative legislation to ensure black people catch up to the effects of apartheid’s White Economic Empowerment.

For the benefit of those who are otherwise unfamiliar with the DA’s proposed solutions to poverty (“war on grime,” anyone?), Zille could have replaced some of her article with the DA’s thinking on how to address apartheid’s legacy.  But she didn’t — because she, too, is playing at dog-whistle politics, and that article’s target audience was wealthy people.

After citing “the real” statistics on restitution, she says, “The facts do not suit [Zuma’s] strategy” for survival.  Is she saying that overall, we aren’t drowning in economic difference along racial lines?  If that’s the case, then what’s wrong with the current administration other than failing to take enough credit for the good that’s happened despite its failings?  Why should ANC voters switch to the DA?

She unwittingly traps herself between two positions: BEE has been a smokescreen, and we now ought to “clear the air” by moving on to something more investor-friendly (read: non-racial, and therefore extremely racist).  She’s saying this now — when everyone’s screaming Black Consciousness and Wokeness?

The other position says racial economic difference isn’t that real, so the ANC’s biggest mistake is using SONA to push its agendas for problems that have already been solved when they could draw for credit for the solutions.  Again, this makes the DA less compelling an alternative.

This argues the official opposition right off of the political equation.  But of course, for the DA is a business interest group that occasionally dabbles in politics.

Its goal isn’t to win elections.  Its message won’t be absorbed by more than 30% of South Africans.  Commercially speaking, this absorption rate is enough for them to politically protect business interests.

The Gospel of post-racial trickle-down economics won’t bring about the political realignment South Africa needs.  But it doesn’t have to; it need only convince the existing DA voter base that it someday will.  For if that base understood that the DA isn’t there for the distance, it would lose its motivation to vote.

Winning national elections would be more than the DA bargained for.  That’s why its people are campaigning for the ANC.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987