#ZumaTradeOff: What are White People Planning?

On Easter Sunday, President Zuma’s risen glory was manifested to (and beheld by) hundreds of the faithful at the Twelve Apostles of Christ Church in Umgababa, where he passed himself off as the lamb that had been slain for championing “radical economic transformation”.

His genius lies in that up until the cabinet reshuffle, other political players had merely spoken of transformation. But there was no action prior to Zuma’s to measure it against. So transformation can be whatever Zuma says it is — including reckless cabinet reshuffles and credit ratings downgrades — because nobody has seen anything else.

A large part of how he has retained power was his abusing the most potent tool we had for transformation, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), to fund his crony capitalist network — while passing that off as his navigating the economic exclusions experienced by the black majority. And, given that nobody else had really done anything to relieve this exclusion, Zuma’s friends could call whatever he did “radical economic transformation”. Again, there was nothing else to measure it against.

If Mandela and Mbeki were sheltered by the cosy, respectable arms of white veneration, Zuma passes himself of as in the trenches with the ordinary black South African. When he is scapegoated by what he covertly describes as racist media for his sins, black people vicariously participate in his reproach and his navigation thereof. Sure, those black folk who saw Nkandla with their own eyes, put their finger in the wound in its side and saw it wasn’t photoshopped by said racist media, they voted IFP. But for many black people, marching against Zuma would mean marching with racism against one’s alternate universe self lifted up and crucified at the pinnacle of political power. For championing radical economic transformation.

If people’s perception is their reality, Zuma knows how to keep hope going.

There is a black marcher who can be mobilised against Zuma, though. He wears a red beret and is drawn by the EFF’s call for land, asset and business expropriation without compensation.

Do you see how the black majority, as a whole, faces no shortage of ideological suitors beating down its doors, offering it schemes for radical economic transformation? None of those ideas has to be particularly sophisticated or helpful because there’s nothing to compare them to. They also lack holistic stakeholder participation because most white people barely grasp their role in systemic racism, let alone contribute meaningfully to the discussion on transformation.

The suitors have multiplied. The other afternoon, the Department of Trade and Industry tweeted that we “need to broaden the base of participation in our economy, so for us black economic empowerment is imperative.” I’m not sure what the Department is thinking now or to what extent it will just continue serving the needs of the politically-connected few, but this isn’t the first time Minister Rob Haydn Davies has made noises on stricter BEE in the last few days.

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said at his Easter sermon that rich and poor need to negotiate trade-offs at an economic and land Codesa. UDM’s Bantu Holomisa also tweeted about the need for an economic Codesa.

But if the Department of Trade and Industry willingly offers improved BEE, the resultant narrative will be that the Zuma administration is sincerely pro-transformation. This will defuse much frustration against corrupt government officials. We’ll then have a transformed economy with deformed guardians, and therefore no economy at all.

And though we must speak of economic Codesas, we cannot do so in broad terms anymore. We just don’t have the time. We need a framework to work off of, and we need it yesterday.

When one of these suitors, be it Zuma, Malema or Davis, offers a way towards radical economic transformation, we must look for strings attached or the unintended consequences of starting too broad. We must be very careful.

If my analysis that Zuma has abused BEE to gain and keep power is correct, loosening his grip on the economy may be achieved if we, the people, push for both radical economic transformation and political reformation as I’ve been describing under the #ZumaTradeOff series. Let me unpack why I insist white people have to fight for economic transformation, and black people for political reformation.

In line with his narrative that he’s the scapegoat who bears South Africa’s racism, Zuma has been mocking [white] marchers who had never been seen marching until now. He says they’re racist and greedy. How white people could answer that is through lobbying, not so much for a change in politicians, but for a BEE that will stop enriching a select politically-connected few and will spread the wealth more equitably amongst black people instead. I’ll explain shortly why pictures of rich white people climbing into convertibles to protest Zuma just look bad.

So those white people could march for businesses to be incentivised to make ownership deals with black people whose net worths are beneath R10 million. Currently, the BEE incentive is to have any black person as an owner, but there are bonus points that disappear once that black owner has a personal net worth of R50 million or more. Real BEE would cut the line off at a much lower net asset worth. Hence the R10 million mark. It would also make a starter difference between the number of points earned for ownership by someone with a net worth below R10m as opposed to someone with a net worth above R10m. Real BEE would possibly not count any black person with a net asset value of over R10 million as black for BEE ownership purposes. Once you’re a millionaire, you do not need to be prioritised for economic empowerment.

That one change, alone, would shrug a lot of crony capitalists off of government’s procurement chain while freeing BEE to economically empower those who genuinely need economic empowerment.

In exchange for lobbying for this kind of BEE, more black people who’ve previously been sceptical of white motives could then work for political reformation. Where there is the sure promise of economic transformation, black self-interest says to cast out those elements that would abuse the means of transformation for corruption. With a stronger BEE, the corruption no longer takes money out of just white pockets but out of black ones as well. The BEE we have doesn’t put money into black people’s pockets so government corruption remains an abstract idea.

The #ZumaTradeOff, then, says black people will fight for an economy that works by getting rid of incompetent or unethical office-bearers, in exchange for white people fighting to ensure the resulting economy works for everyone.

Our mistake has been that we kept swapping these roles. The optics of having white people fight for the economy to work by protesting black politicians when there had been a reshuffle, or of black people ensuring it works in a transformed manner by protesting white captains of industry when there were calls for minimum wages, have never worked. They have traditionally underscored our differences.

Black politicians would be more likely to listen to black lobbyists (who would be greater in numbers) and white industrialists would be more likely to listen to white lobbyists (who are the majority of consumers and hold more senior positions in business). But you would need both, at the same time, to turn South Africa around.

What this means is that instead of taking a day off work to protest a corrupt government run mostly by black office-bearers, white people really need to go into work to ask why senior management is untransformed.

We need to literally walk a mile in each other’s shoes.

Why am I picking so hard on white people? As said already, they need a distinctly pro-black reason for marching if they are to not play into Zuma’s game. Until then, everything they do or say can and will be used against them in a court of law.

Also, BEE was brought in by white capitalists as an alternative to nationalisation and expropriation. BEE’s primary beneficiary is the white populace. Isn’t it in their interests, then, to ensure that BEE works?  “How can it work if the blacks keep electing corrupt government officials?” many of these white people will ask.

To which I would reply, “Stop that.” Get out of that narrative. It is not in your self-interest to stay in it. Being right about this will not help in any case. You will only get corrupt government officials out of power if you ensure tomorrow’s economy is set to benefit everyone equitably. That’s on you.

How will we get black people to protect something they don’t have if we can’t get white people to use BEE to protect the interests they do have?

Not to put too fine a point of it, but if I were white in South Africa I would be discussing what this blog has been calling the #ZumaTradeOff like nothing else matters. If you’re not sure what it is, look up the hashtag and read other articles on it. Or contact me. A few people have, and I’ve only been to happy to respond to their case scenarios or clear up misunderstandings where the posts weren’t clear.

I respond faster on Twitter and Facebook than I do to blog comments. It’s just easier.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

Don’t ask me about the book (I’m joking; I want you to ask)

 

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#ZumaTradeOff: Meet Yesterday’s Black Anti-Zuma Marcher

It’s crucial to understand why yesterday’s black anti-Zuma marcher is fundamentally different from last week’s black non-marcher.

Let us first work out why last week’s anti-Zuma marches were so white-dense and black-light.

For the last few days, this blog has been saying that with Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) abused by President Zuma to fund his crony capitalist network, two things happen:

The first is black people think white people are the decisive reason the economy remains untransformed. In reality, President Zuma more decisively slows transformation than the average white South African could.

The other is white people think black people are the central reason Zuma is President. In reality, his patronage network keeps him in power despite his unpopularity amongst even black people.

Zuma plays these two sides off against each other, then.

When it’s time to vote or march against him, this dilemma in conscience affects many black people: they feel Zuma has done more to empathise with, and navigate, the economic exclusions experienced by the black majority than the previous presidents did. And indeed, under Zuma, we have seemingly shifted lefter.

In Zuma’s being scapegoated by what is believed to be white-owned media for his many sins, those black people vicariously participate in Zuma’s reproach and his navigation thereof. So though he steals and lies, he is the imperfect but necessary hero; though he is violent, he is the only husband who will protect from economic racism; though blemished, he is the only sacrificial lamb that bears the sin of structural racism in ways his predecessors never did; though selfish, he is the only martyr who shows black people how to cope before systemic racism.

This is many black people’s perceived and experienced reality, so there’s no arguing with it. For them, marching against President Zuma would be denying the need and the rightness of the little good they pick out of what is otherwise a messy and complicated leader. After all, white people don’t usually march alongside black people on their issues. The suspicion, then, must be that they care exclusively about their economic interests.

It is in this space that Zuma gets to say the marches against him were motivated by racism.

Though Zuma only feigns being a champion of black economic empowerment, each time we call for his removal without offering the trade-off that his ostensive role as economic emancipator will be taken over and consummated by others more capable and sympathetic than he is, we hang the spectre of economic nonexistence over black people’s heads.

So until a trade-off is suggested, the black majority only sees two possible futures: in the one, Zuma remains president but they have access to a junk-rated economy. In the other, if they march alongside white people for it, Zuma is no longer president but they have junk access to the economy.

Now that we understand last week’s non-marcher somewhat, we can discuss yesterday’s black marcher. This is the kind the EFF mobilises successfully. Until that EFF collapses or is absorbed into the ANC, those black people will be drawn by its call for land and asset expropriation without compensation. The majority of yesterday’s black marchers see right through Zuma’s act and want him out of the way so they can also get white people out of the way to their economic liberation. How white people are gotten out of the way for the purpose of black economic liberation isn’t necessarily violent, but neither is it necessarily nice. In the law of eye-for-an-eye, one may not exceed the violence shown under apartheid and colonialism to rectify their effects. You do the math.

Is this to say yesterday’s black marcher is violent and blood-thirsty? No, but it’s no use saying apartheid was a crime against humanity without acting like it was. Black EFF supporters probably hate unprovoked violence more than anyone else. That’s why many of them would respond to the unprovoked violence that apartheid was, with provoked violence — sort of how Old Testament God demonstrates his hatred for violence by inflicting it upon those who benefitted off of prior violence.

My point is calling for Zuma’s fall without articulating what that means economically corroborates accusations that white people will act more decisively to defend their economic interests than to rectify the effects of the apartheid they benefitted from. The untenability of such a status quo, of that post-Zuma South Africa, is why we have not moved past Zuma. If we cannot remove Zuma now, that nuclear energy deal is as good as done, as are whatsoever other rare delights he has in store for us.

Industrial designer and agricultural innovator William Blake suggested anti-Zuma marches be geo-spatially close to townships and rural areas instead of just at city centres and in suburbs. Risk is constant wherever people march; the ANC Youth League will always gate-crash. The greater risk is sitting at home or at work doing nothing about this political battle. The point is, where the marches happen says much about what Zuma’s fall is meant to accomplish and protect.

There are many economic trade-offs I’d suggest but one tweak in BEE would be the simplest. An understanding of BEE can buttress us from being politically manipulated into the false need to change the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land, assets or business without compensation. The onus is on white people to lobby for real transformation and monitor the flow of wealth to ensure everyone has a fair chance to contribute to the economy and be rewarded fairly. One could argue it is on black people to vote differently or hold politicians accountable. But that simply demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the kind of perceived (and somewhat real) political reality many black people live within. In that political reality, everything white people would have black people do benefits white people first and black people last, if ever.

President Zuma’s removal is essential for our economic survival, lest he continue doing naughty things in the name of “radical economic transformation.” But an economic trade-off of some manner, shape or form is essential for his removal, without which most black people have no reason to march against him unless mobilised by the EFF to do so.

And for those who think black people are ignorant/uneducated/don’t understand what’s going on and therefore can’t be mobilised: lo and behold, they freaking marched yesterday. Why? Because the EFF proposes the most “radical” trade-off ever conceived of in our democracy: vote us in to replace the ANC, and we’ll let you take the land back.

One way or another, a trade-off of some nature is the only thing that will bring about political change in this country.

If I understand “the markets” correctly, the #ZumaTradeOff (centred on tweaking the new entry provision in BEE and therefore costing investors much less than the outright confiscation of assets) is our economy’s only hope for not only working better for Zuma’s absence, but working for everyone, lest inequalities persist.

What is this new entry provision? For those who haven’t read previous posts, I gleaned some technical insights from transformation consultancy BEE Novation. In the name of transformation, the current Black Economic Empowerment codes recognise as a “new entrant” to the economy, any black person with a net worth of less than R50 million for the purpose of part-ownership in an empowering company. With a threshold this high, transformation begins to look a lot like the enrichment of a politically-connected few to the exclusion of a politically unconnected many.

If we could drop the threshold to R10 million, and increase the number of points an empowering company could earn for introducing black people whose net worth is less than R10 million each, we could accelerate real economic transformation. If we were feeling drastic, we could consider not counting anyone over the threshold as black for BEE purposes. There is no way an individual with a R10 million net asset value could need support from legislation that was passed to help poor black people. There are real, and really poor, black people waiting in the wings.

At some point in the country’s future, white people will negotiate with black people. They could negotiate today with the black people who didn’t march last week, mobilising them to march in exchange for BEE being changed to really work for them.

Or they will negotiate tomorrow with the black people who marched with the EFF yesterday.

Follow and Retweet: @SKhumalo1987

That book is dancing on me.

Thank you everyone who’s been sharing the posts and the hashtag #ZumaTradeOff. Feedback is most welcome

As We Protest (God Help Us All)

Today, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party, among other organizations, is leading an  ambitiously-named “national day of action” protest to persuade President Zuma to step down.

For reasons discussed in podcasts, blog posts and videos, the below are the reasons and necessary conditions for removing President Jacob Zuma.

I’ll be very surprised if any group can depose of him without reaching consensus on these.

Reasons:

Being credit-rated as junk will take South Africa’s price of borrowing up, which will affect the price of…everything.

The nuclear energy deal will knock the price of power up, which will affect the price of…everything.

Zuma will also lead the campaign to destroy the ANC’s reputation within the next two years. Following his lead, rude and thuggish ANCYL members will pick the party’s brand equity down to its bones. The more vocally they defend the Zuma who has captured the party, the less ANC top brass will be able to do to curb or discipline this. They have let the fish rot from the head, leaving them with zero credibility when they reprimand their political children for taking after their political father. The ANC is not dead, not by a long shot. But its doom has become certain.

Your most uninformed voter in the country’s most rural outpost will see the flashy cars and rowdy behaviour (or even an attempt at masking it) at campaigns, and know instinctively that something is not right. They already know because they normally only ever see the ANC at election season.

The ANC presidential race is for nought because at this rate, the next president of the ANC will not be the next president of the country. All the contracts, the political and public positions ANC supporters hope to gain by toing the party line will not be the ANC’s to give. Stephen Grootes painted the dilemma in excruciating terms:

“For many ANC MPs now, things may well be coming to the point where they are wondering if they will return as an MP after the 2019 elections. The lower on the parliamentary list they are now, the less chance they have of coming back.”

and

“Which means that for their own self-interest, some of these MPs must surely be thinking that the party needs to change direction.”

“But their problem still remains: do they allow Zuma to stay, or do they try to act against him? Both are perilous. If they do nothing, they could be queuing up outside any McDonald’s with a ‘help wanted’ sign in late 2019. If they act, they could be doing that by December this year.”

Either way, President Zuma is bad news for ANC MPs and other office-bearers. If the party keeps him, it may have no choice but to steal elections in 2019.

The Conditions for Zuma’s Removal:

The first is organized civil disobedience. Recognized organizations like political parties, unions, civil society NPOs and businesses are bound in word and deed by the law. They cannot explicitly lead people into illegal activities, for if they did they would lose the platforms they speak and act from. This loss would implicate other stakeholders these organisations have legitimate commitments towards. Also, no organisation wants to take responsibility for death, injury or loss of whatsoever nature, howsoever arising, that would happen in the course of civil disobedience.

That does not mean they cannot implicitly point the way forward for those without such a platform to lose. In other words, we cannot rely on them to do all the thinking and organising for us.

When Pravin Gordhan said to mobilize, he may have implicitly meant to do whatever it takes to unseat Zuma. But notice he could neither mention a.) Zuma, whom we assumed he meant, nor b.) the need to do a pro-cons analysis as to whether we would act by the letter of the law or its spirit. Again, we assumed he meant we had to act within the law and not just within conscience.

We have to connect the dots. Politics is too important to be left to politicians.

Organised civil disobedience may be something as simple as mobilising people for an immediate march without applying for permits and permission, knowing the risks.

The moment an organisation applies for permission to work within rules, we must heed the expression that “Rules are for the Guidance of the Wise and the Obeisance of Fools.” Zuma probably won’t be deposed by petition, vote of no confidence or a march that has a start date and an end date. He can ignore the petition, win the parliamentary vote (quite easily, too) and cover his hears until after any planned demonstration.  The courts can do little or nothing.

The end of a demonstration should not be when demonstrators want to get back to work; it should be when the goal of the demonstration is accomplished. With days between our marches, there soon will be no work to get back to as Zuma works overtime to sell the economy off.

Any action we take would have to outlast and isolate him (or those who have the resources to oust him) from something they need, be it room to move, food or water. If we worked via a tax revolt, it would have to be broad, deep and last long enough to make his tenure untenable to those who have the legal power (but not yet the moral power) to remove him from presidency.

The Most Important Condition:

The most important condition to mobilizing the greatest number of people has to do with the “what’s in it for me” factor.

I’ve been to enough Zuma marches and read enough social media complaints about them to tell you the reason they don’t have enough support is racial. White people have a clear understanding of what Zuma represents — simply, a big problem — but in many black people’s lives, he’s the cause and the symptom (and therefore, the cause and the cure) of a more dynamic dilemma. The unintended but foreseeable effect of removing him is an exacerbation in systemic racism. Zuma may be lying when he says (anything at all) that he’s fighting for the economic upliftment of black people. But by virtue of how he’s positioned himself and how he operates, he does negotiate the factors that exclude black people from the economy much better than his predecessors did, even if he also steals from those black people to unfairly enrich while bribing and blackmailing those who keep him in power.

This is how he holds scores of black ANC voters consciences’ ransom. Worse still, he keeps black people convinced that it is white people slowing down transformation, and white people convinced that black people actively support him out of ignorance. The reality is, Zuma does not need that much support from the black person on the ground to stay in power. His patronage network is more important for that purpose. The ANC, in turn, is protected by the liberation legacy but also its position. Pure populism sans capitalism does not hold as much appeal to black people as we’d expect it to, but neither does sheer neoliberalism. The ANC can get away with murder because it ideologically negotiates around Zuma’s negotiating within politics.

The moment someone explains hair-raising moves through “radical economic transformation,” we should get those who work in the transformation space weighing in, just as we would expect doctors or some medical practitioners’ society to weigh in on the words of a politician who gives an unsound medical rationale for his decisions. Professionals defend their fields. In this regard, a Black Economic Empowerment consultancy called BEE Novation has shared the view that if, for example, “the new entrant” threshold on BEE were dropped from R50 million to say, R10 million, it would be a step towards empowering black South Africans on the ground while curbing crony capitalism. The alternative to BEE, now or later, is “expropriation without compensation” or ongoing inequality. So Zuma’s rhetoric is in direct contradiction to his actions’ trajectory.

As I have pointed out on this blog, Daily Maverick, Biznews and PowerFM, the solution to the Zuma stand-off is a Zuma trade-off. If white people want him gone, they need to lobby and march for economic transformation. It is then that black people would be “unshackled” to march for politicians who would ensure we have an economy in the first place.

Apart from socially and economically empowered white people lobbying for better transformation in exchange for more black people supporting Zuma protests, the bulk of black people have very little reason to get rid of Zuma or the ANC. This is crunch time, the greatest test the New South Africa has faced. If we get rid of Zuma or the ANC, the economy will remain inaccessible to black people. Zuma knows this. If we don’t get rid of him, black people will have access to a junk-rated economy. It’s lose-lose.

I’m happy to draw up and plan as much as I can around the #ZumaTradeOff, but honestly speaking this ball is in white people’s court. Nobody is better positioned to make it happen.

The #ZumaTradeOff would have to be explicit and deliberate. It is not enough for the races to march and sing together here and there, now and then; they have to cultivate the discipline of working for one another’s and, by extension, everyone’s best interests.

A lot of white people think if we solve the political problem, black people’s economic problems will be solved as well. But the deal we signed up for in 1994 left economic power in white hands — setting us up for the very moment we facing now. White people have yet to show serious interest in solving black people’s economic problems beyond where their political interests coincide with those economic problems.

The alternative to the #ZumaTradeOff is more of Zuma, and with him, untold misery. I cannot see this play out any other way.

If you agree, publicize the #ZumaTradeOff hashtag to help push the conversation to a fruitful end. If we fail to, what happens next is on us.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

The book is almost done, and I am well-done.

 

 

 

 

#ZumaTradeOff: Why Both Sides Must Win

A version of this Article has appeared on Daily Maverick, BizNews and a growing list of media platforms.

Please read and share it as a matter of urgency. Thank you.

President Jacob Zuma is selling the country off in bits and pieces. We could return the favour by making him part of a trade-off between black people who want white people to share economic power, and white people who want black people to share political power.

Unless both sides can agree on a trade-off, fast, President Jacob Zuma will use his power to destroy both.

I wish this weren’t about race. But black social media users have accused white people of protesting only when Zuma jeopardises the economy, but never over high tuition fees, minimum wages, or other matters that impact on black people whose economic worlds are permanently in junk status.

Likewise, a lot of white people say if black people don’t join the call for new leadership, those issues won’t be solved even if white people tried to help solve them.

Each of these “sides” has to give something to get something back. Let’s call this the #ZumaTradeOff.

Underlying Zuma’s grip on our economy is the lie that he is working to bring about radical economic transformation. But a transformation consultant with years in the game believes Zuma is working for the opposite of what he has promised.

The alternative to BEE is “expropriation without compensation” after Zuma solidifies his grip on power and further wrecks the economy. If South Africans do not fight to take Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) back from croney capitalism, we will have nothing left to fight for. This legislation hasn’t failed; it hasn’t been tried. Instead, it’s been abused by the politically connected.

At a layman’s primer on BEE by BEE Novation, consultant Lee du Preez spoke of what he felt was a kink in the Act — its New Entrant provision. A company that takes on a black owner with a net worth of less than R50-million may get bonus BEE points for enabling a “new entrant” to the economy a greater level of participation. Once that person’s net worth exceeds R50-million, the company continues getting up to full points for transformed ownership; they just don’t get bonus points.

For obvious reasons, du Preez felt using BEE to make people millionaires 50 times over was a bit like using a charity organisation created to uplift the poor to enrich a chosen few. Once a person’s net worth exceeds R50-million — heck, R10-million! — he should no longer be considered black for BEE purposes because he’d be wealthier than the average white South African. The abuse of this high “new entrant” threshold, among other provisions, had led to people distrusting BEE; specifically, it had led to black people believing the slowness of economic transformation was white people’s fault, and white people believing Zuma’s political stronghold was black people’s fault. Divided, we are conquered and we cannot mobilise like Pravin Gordhan said to.

The fault line in both instances is that Zuma uses tools like BEE to fund a patronage network beholden to himself instead of accelerating real economic transformation. The reasons for racial mistrust were two sides of exactly the same coin. You can’t get rid of the one without getting rid of the other. Hence, #ZumaTradeOff.

Others have spoken of this. While Wilmot James was the Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, he observed that the DTI would “increase the threshold of the value of equity previously held to qualify as a ‘new entrant’ from R20-million to R50-million”:

“The DA believes that steps must be taken to ensure that B-BBEE does not become a tool for elite enrichment — we therefore argued for lowering the threshold in the definition of ‘new entrants’ to R10-million and increasing the points that can be earned by involving new entrants and workers in empowerment transactions.”

Put differently, imagine disaster survivors being triaged for emergency medical assistance. How would we feel if the medical service personnel knew some of the victims personally, and decided to first give those spa treatments and pedicures before moving on to patients who urgently needed life-saving help?

The purpose of medical emergency intervention is to get people fixed enough so they can get their own spa treatments in the future. BEE’s purpose is to give black people a leg-up so they can someday go on to making their millions. Without a cap on the wealth an individual can make through BEE deals, we’ll never get around to benefiting those who aren’t politically connected. Someone with a net asset value of R49-million isn’t a new entrant; he’s an Ancient of Days.

What we have under Zuma’s watch is Bribe-Based Black Elite Enrichment. Zuma is not the way, the truth and the life without which none may come to radical economic transformation. He’s the broad and crowded gate to economic hell for black, Indian, coloured and white people.

Very simply put, if more black people step up to work for Zuma’s removal from the presidency, we’ll have an economy that works. If white people step up to drive lobbying for revisions to BEE, we’ll have an economy that works for black people as well.

One practical way this can play out is in the lead-up to Parliament’s no-confidence vote on Tuesday the 18th of April. We must publicise and discuss the #ZumaTradeOff to one another – and then fight for it like our country’s future depends on it. Because it does. We can’t win unless we’re clear on what we all stand to win.

By the 18th, our Members of Parliament must have heard of the scandal: in return for selling the country, our whole president would have been sold off to political slaughter for a pro-forma 30 pieces of silver he isn’t worth. We must not retreat until those members of parliament vote accordingly.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

The hashtag is #ZumaTradeOff

That book is almost done working on me

The ANC Did Not Liberate South Africa

To understand why ANC members make utterances that contradict the spirit of the Constitution whenever their party and its president are threatened, we need to understand why the party is so distant from the Constitution.

Its NEC’s biggest smallanyana skeleton is that those who defend and call the ANC their father are pimped out and thrown under the bus by it because it isn’t their father. Who is, then?

Our country’s regression into Old Testament territory calls for Ezekiel’s unveiling of a similarly deluded nation’s origins:

“On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.”

South Africa is our mother, but the ANC is not our father.

“Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.”

Translation: you’re a bastard.

The romanticized story of how the New South Africa was conceived says the ANC liberated black people and is their political father. The truth is the ANC happened to have been positioned to take credit for the end of apartheid; it did not end apartheid.

This isn’t to say many of its members didn’t make epic sacrifices; it’s to say those sacrifices, in and of themselves, didn’t bring about liberation. Credit was imputed to these sacrificers for ending apartheid because the story of changed hearts would do more to unify us than the uninspiring non-story of that time’s financial realities.

The ANC provided a leader who unified and prevented horrendous bloodshed. But sparing South Africa from conflict is not the same thing as liberating South Africa from oppression. There is a price to pay for confusing the two.

The ANC accelerated a shift in the way black and brown people understood their relationship to the government. It did this at first by talking, then by inflicting violence. The State shook it off. After it was banned, ordinary South Africans used it as a focal point and rallying cry as they liberated themselves.

Post-Cold War trade rerouting made the bans many in the world had been crying out for easier, which brought about apartheid’s economic death. The romanticized version says the bans were initiated because the black lives of liberation stalwarts mattered that much to global economies’ consciences. If that’s so, why isn’t the West not that much ahead of us in eradicating racism today?

Second to its formation, no hour in a political party’s life is more formative than its graduation to being a governing party. The lies a party tells at the assumption of power insidiously latch to its people’s egos, sucking them into the gravity of their own spin machines. That is how the ANC fell under the deception that its members were directly responsible for dismantling apartheid and were to be singularly credited with accomplishments that required global events (and a lot of help!) from beyond their sphere of influence.

An awareness of one’s limits develops humility; self-deception develops entitlement. Without a correspondence between reality and narrative to stabilise the relationship between effort in and results out at that time, the party could never develop a grasp for the mathematical relationship between their ideologies and desired results for today. The ANC can’t govern because at a formative moment, it believed a lie about the relationship between its efforts and the liberation of the country it was to govern. We know it believed a lie because if humility is the mark of knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, the ANC is drowning in hubris and parched for results.

When we believe the ANC liberated South Africa, we follow its lead and fall into confusion about what unseats unjust office-bearers. It is not embarrassment, but if you think it is, you will sign petitions and have 3-day demonstrations. What unseats them is cut-off to resources they need or the unworkability of systems they put in place for their benefit. Previous posts list examples of what that looks like when the laws are unjust; when the laws are fine but their enforcers are not, the target shifts only slightly. You barricade and hold those people hostage until they quit. This is civil disobedience, and I explain its ramifications better in Facebook threads where people ask questions about it.

The skeleton key that unlocks the closet to all the ANC’s skeletons is that its children are political and ideological bastards. They were despised from birth by those who truly fathered that freedom. That’s why the ANC sees them not as trusting, precious supporters to be nurtured, but as objects to be exploited. #RememberKhwezi.

The ANC could not have fathered the New South Africa because it was not there; it was being exiled, arrested and killed in sacrifices that could not liberate South Africa except in the narratives we told to put flesh on and prettify the unfeeling financial skeleton of the world that was emerging. When someone invites you to take over a country the way the National Party did the ANC, it isn’t your victory to claim; it’s that person’s to give. Given that the ANC had been impotent all along, no amount of propping it up at the essential moment could help it father what it, in the end, never fathered. The patriarchal hang-ups that come with knowing this are not mine and are probably not yours, but they’re theirs and they explain why our ruling-party office-bearers are so insecure, paranoid and cynical. It’s because they know that the New South Africa is either the Old in disguise, or the hate child of those who ran and exploited the Old. Either way, it is not their child.

This is why the ANC, in filling Nelson Mandela’s shoes, gave us Jacob Zuma. He is their revenge for having to sustain this lie, their confession on the role that has been falsely imputed to them for years. The memory of real leaders — everyone until and including Mandela — are taunting and tormentous reminders of their inability and the whitewash they had to participate in to cover it. Zuma is how they try to claw out that part of our brains that remembers. But the crude lobotomy only reminds us that a father would never hurt his children.

The ANC did not give us the Constitution; the mostly-white and well-meaning prettifiers of the narrative around the 1994 transfer of power did, and the ANC signed it off but never owned it.

Black ANC supporters know that every victory they score for the ANC is yet more trust handed over to be betrayed in the worst ways possible.

Upon consummation, this misguided self-assertion turns out to be many lifetimes’ worth of self-negation.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

The book is almost done, and so am I.

 

Junk Status: The Gift We Never Wanted

On Sunday,  our shell-shocked country yet survived two pressers. The first was by the Parliamentary Speaker. Its late start bit into the official opposition’s airtime. The second was by the DA on the disciplinary actions against Helen Zille, and the march to the vicinity of Luthuli House.

The strange thing about these pressers was they had the same purpose — to press the anger right out of us. Afterwards, I asked myself, “What will it take to shake us out of our complacency?”

Yesterday, we were shaken by two earthquakes and a rating agency’s credit rating downgrade to Junk Status.

Why would the Democratic Alliance want to anger-manage us into complacency?

At its core, it isn’t a political party: it’s a well-run corporate whose mandate is to protect the interests of established business in post-apartheid South Africa. To do so, it needs to infiltrate the political world just enough to keep that boat from tipping too far left.

Insofar as it passes for a political party, it needs to grow, but never win. Winning would place it into administrative crosshairs to buffer the conflict between post-apartheid restitutions and the private sector that would subsidise said restitutions. There would be no more ANC to point fingers at for failures to manage the difficulties inherent in this task. It would all be on the DA.

At the same time, the DA must grow so as to not have its share of the vote absorbed by other parties. It scavenges the ANC’s victims. If said ANC got rid of Jacob Zuma tomorrow morning, the DA would lose all the voters who joined the DA to get away from Zuma’s ANC. This is why, in my cynical view, the party would want to anger-manage us and make the ANC retain Zuma.

When the DA announced it plans to march to the vicinity of Luthuli House (for the umpteenth time) on the 7th, they gave Zuma’s scenario-planning 5 additional days to develop. Incidentally,  “Zuma” can be interpreted to mean,  “To catch off-guard [in the night, his favourite time] and ambush, often sexually.” One of the things Jacob means is to supplant, replace, undermine or override. Gedleyihlekisa is the one who laughs while hurting you.

The DA also sent out their nth petition. In South Africa, marches and petitions achieve much that is important, but they hardly ever get officials fired. They make us believe that spectacle, by itself, can retrieve souls and consciences from the hellacious clutches of corruption.

It is civil disobedience, not marches, that breaks rotten systems. It’s always been people who sat, ate or drank where the rules said they weren’t allowed to, or presented themselves where they shouldn’t have without passes they should have had so they could be jailed en masse and logjam the criminal justice systems that enforced those unjust laws. They rendered processes unworkable, or cut off opponents’ access to roads and other resources. We may be the first “oppressed” people in all history to think merely shaming the shameless will get them to see the light.

The DA’s proposed responses will help it take ownership of and deactivate anger that could have been channelled into civil disobedience. Granted, the DA can’t advocate civil disobedience, but it could step aside, let history run its course and help those who occupied or barricaded strategic points after the fact.

The other topic the DA had to address was Helen Zille and her tweets on colonialism, which will be investigated while Zille retains Premiership. I suspect the party is unsure what to do. This is a whole Helen Zille. What’s being investigated isn’t her tweets, which need little investigation as they aren’t encrypted secrets and the DA already said it doesn’t stand for colonialism. What they’re actually “investigating” are the political pros and cons of expelling her. Sure, the DA will pick up more of the ANC’s leftovers but it will alienate staunch Zille (and colonialism) supporters. The DA may be better off dethroning Zille as Premier than Zuma as President.

To retain the ideal number of National Assembly seats, the DA would need to speak as though it were possible to run this country without running into the tricky moral trilemmas the ANC fell to after 1994. This would help it attract the kind of voter it banks on: over racial politics (and therefore, fully immersed in racial politics) and lacking the stomach for hard conversations. That’s why the crowd it speaks to is so amenable to having its outrage defused. The problem isn’t that middle-class and white South Africans feel too intensely; it’s that they feel too little. It is emotional anaemia. Where is the response to ongoing systemic racism? What is Black Monday? Its critics are saying the initiative is utterly void of initiative.

The other presser was just as measured.

Baleka Mbete was late, as mentioned. What most twitter users thought of her responses to journalists’ questions was they were full of nothingness. She condescended without being overtly condescending. She painstakingly said, without quite saying, that there’s neither legal nor procedural basis for the outrage that’s followed the reshuffles. She was questioned about her feelings at seeing her minister colleagues being dismissed. Her responses, even then, can best be described by Eusebius Mckaiser’s tweet as “evasive, non-committal, uncertain of how to position herself, tactically incoherent. Put differently: She is being consistent.”

Her presser mirrored what she wanted to frame as the total insubstantiality of the current political outrage — our hypochondria. If President Zuma’s reshuffle devastated us, Mbete’s contempt numbed us down to a point where we can feel nothing and that nothing is our impotence to determine the conditions of a conflict we are avoiding. It smothered our outrage to a helpless smoulder. Her message was the Political Establishment is the Political Establishment and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it because nobody has done anything about it.

Why, then, did she invite the media? She did it because she’s the sweet family doctor who comes to tell you the country isn’t sick. We can’t be sick because there’s no legally known basis for declaring us sick, and our symptoms must be imaginary or else we’d have taken to the streets long before she called her briefing. There wouldn’t have been a briefing. She and the rest of the NEC would be calling to the mountains and hills to  fall on them to hide them as Jesus returns in the form of public wrath.

By merely watching the presser when we should have been driving the fear of the living God into our public servants, we legitimised everything she was saying in her hypnotic drone. By merely summoning us instead of being summoned by us, the public servant reversed roles. And we let her because we always let them.

And this is why Junk Status is, hopefully, the Gift We Never Wanted — a wake-up call.

There’s a controversial technique for saving cardiac arrest victims. The precordial thump looks like a karate-chop to the sternum, a whack near the heart. Delivered correctly, it can bring the victim of cardiac arrest back from the brink.

It’s scary.  It’s dangerous. Like earthquakes. Like credit ratings downgrades. But in the long run, it may inoculate us from being taken off-guard by the one whose name spells out his modus operandi.

Please follow, share and retweet: SKhumalo1987

That book is working on me, and I’m nearly done. With any luck, it, too, is nearly done.

Judgment Day: ANC Politicians Must Unseat Zuma or Leave the Party

Today, struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada was laid to rest. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe took this opportunity to read out Kathrada’s unanswered letter to President Jacob Zuma, in which the President is challenged to resign.

This got me thinking about a tendency amongst the “good” ANC politicians to throw Jacob Zuma under the bus, subtly or otherwise. I also thought of how our usual response is to applaud and cheer.

Can we please not laud those politicians who have Damascus Road revelations or challenge the NEC to resign, until they themselves leave?

I fear by the time the ANC’s “good cops” rescue us from the ANC’s “bad cops” there will be nothing left to rescue. We are those frogs in that pot in that boiling water, acclimatising to a temperature that’s killing us when we should be leaping out.

We can’t separate the ANC from the situation our country is in, both the good and bad. This implicates everyone in the ANC for all of it.

No South African can legitimately opt out of falling under laws the ANC uses its majority to pass in parliament. To support the ANC is to agree that the party should have the greatest say in the way parliament passes laws and scrutinises the actions of the Executive. So the argument that the ANC isn’t wholly responsible serves no one except the ANC.

The dollar doesn’t discriminate between citizens who said, “yes” to the President’s financially risky decisions from those who said, “no” to them. When we go nuclear, the bill isn’t going to land with those citizens who agreed to nuclear power. We may be near Passover, but no lamb’s blood on any doorpost is going to exempt any of us from whatever happens in Lootuli House (sorry, Chief Albert Luthuli).

Therefore, distinguishing the ANC from the decisions made by its leadership gives the party protections no human being in this country has, and that, at the citizen’s expense. People would be left with no choice but to join the ANC in order to enjoy the rights taken from people and given to the party. I submit everyone in the ANC knows this; that is why they remain in there. Life is easier for those who love the party more than the country that the party abuses.

Another example is crime. Criminals don’t knowingly pick victims who said, “yes” to the ANC’s crime-fighting leadership, or lack thereof, over those who said, “no” to it: we’re all victims and victors of the consequences of the ANC’s leadership in this regard. Once again, separating the ANC from the consequences of decisions made by its deployees, when citizens can’t be separated from those consequences, gives the ANC rights no human being can enjoy — at cost to human rights.

Those people in the ANC who “see the light” and speak up are only in a position where their voices count for more because we’ve let the citizens’ count for less. We did this each time we centred their denouncements of Zuma without demanding their exit from the party Zuma leads. They’re not heroes; they’ve thieves, albeit indirectly, benefiting from the mess they’re criticising.

They seem more exposed to harm for speaking out, but that’s why they’re safer — their publicity shields them and puts a higher premium on their blood while the blood of ordinary South Africans outside the ANC can be bought and sold for 30 pieces of silver. Remember Marikana.

They are not heroes. There’s no risk for them. We need to stop applauding them for saying what others are saying (but go unheard, because they are voiceless) and demand they exit the party.

Thank you.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

That book is almost done working on me. 

The Case for Letting Helen Zille Stay in the DA (and Keep Her Twitter Account)

Zille asked,

“Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence?”

and said,

“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

At the risk of making it sound as though whose ancestors built what toys is the measure of which race group is more civilised, I answer in two parts.

The first is that Africa had these things before colonialism.

The second is that the anthropologist jury is still out on whether a civilisation’s development is dependent on the duration for which its people are settled, undisturbed, and their infrastructure maintained — or dependent on cycles of conflict, displacement and resettling.

By either measure, bearing in mind that it had just been settled by the Bantu from further up north (not forgetting the Khoi-San), the region we now call Southern Africa was, by Eurocentric standards, relatively “civilised” in the early 17th century.  So saying colonialism wasn’t all negative is a bit like beating a child bloody, and then attributing the subsequent recovery to the medicinal effects of blood-letting.  It is colonial-age thinking.

If Zille is acquainted with these basics of history, why is she asking what she’s asking?  If she isn’t, what does she gain from wilful ignorance?  Would she tweet of the positives of the holocaust her relatives escaped?  Did she stick her neck out for the Steve Biko story so she could leverage the admiration of liberals for political prominence in this dispensation, only to use it to spew the antithesis of everything Biko died for?  Her remaining role is as a mirror for many white South Africans to look into.

I’ve described why, to the extent the DA explains its governance successes without reference to the post-apartheid gains its mostly-white network got to keep, to that extent, its supporters unconsciously believe corruption and incompetence are inherent to majorly black political parties, good governance and ethics to majorly white ones.  The white intellectual supremacy Zille openly tweets is a natural flowering of this white moral superiority.  This is why black people would rather countenance the ANC get away with murder than vote the DA into power.

The DA cannot denounce those who celebrate apartheid and colonialism without likewise denouncing the blatant economic disparity that resulted from these crimes, and from which many of their members currently benefit.  To hold Zille to account properly, the DA would have to challenge much of the thinking that makes it a popular choice amongst its current constituency.  If the DA is unwilling to go that far, I’d rather they keep Helen Zille and not discipline her at all.  Their feigning a purge would be worse than their not having one at all.

Zille subsequently asked,

“How much does our freedom rating actually mean” when “we cannot even get the rudimentary criminal justice pipeline functioning?”

and,

“What does freedom mean without the rule of law?”

She’s playing God — playing freedom and the law against each other — so as to undermine the equality, freedoms and rights she claims to stand for from the other fork of her tongue.  Yet even she knows that law and order were divorced from justice in 1994, after which apartheid’s beneficiaries used its spoils to dazzle us with their “better” governance and, therefore, white supremacy.

The DA knows that justice isn’t the same thing as order.  But to let white South Africans get away with acting as though they’re more entitled to comfort, law and order than black people are to justice, reparations and redress, it’s conflated justice with law and silently passed them off as conjoined twins, hoping nobody would notice the hidden (and false) premise of white blamelessness, but would call into question black consciousness-style questioning of the structurally racist status quo.  But it seems Biko’s ghost has said, “over my dead body” to Zille’s using the platform he built for her (because the black man has been building shit for white people way too long) to silence the kinds of questions and thoughts he would have us voice today.

Zille’s individual martyrdom would prove inconsistent (and therefore illegitimate) all resistances to white minority rule that pick on some racists, but not on all systemic racism.  She would have “taken one for the team,” and with her expulsion, the DA would have staged a purge, only to re-broadcast its old message — now aired with more apparent credibility than ever before — that it alone can carry the “reconciliation” project forward.  Without redress or the elimination of systemic racism, of course.

Do you see why calling for Zille’s head could be like chopping off the Lernaean Hydra’s?  Other heads, perhaps less coiffured, perhaps less blond and botoxed, would replace it.

Having fought apartheid not because it was evil but because the form it had could not sustain exclusive white interests forever, she’d have triggered the salvation of the colonial project at a level deeper than we can imagine.  Her crucifixion would be the DA’s salvation.  But what DA would emerge, and what would that mean for the rest of us?

Let’s hope the party treats this not just as a PR disaster but as a much-needed identity crisis.  The identity it arrives at isn’t as important as the integrity of the process it follows.

It might be better if they just keep Helen Zille.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

I’m nearing the final stages of that book working on me.

 

 

 

 

Who Is Fooling Whom? (On Current Political Sentiment)

What have

Cyril Ramaphosa

Helen Zille

Jacob Zuma

Julius Malema

Nelson Mandela

Thuli Madonsela

got in common?

They’re populist demagogues.

Lesson 1: Politics is Business

Getting people to buy into a governance vision package is more an expensive exercise than ordinarily expected.  It involves lobbying business, labour, church, environmentalists, civil society  and so on.  Law firms find their way into the mix.

So the politician’s deepest allegiance is to donors who fund the logistics of  schmoozing these prospective stakeholders until they think he or she is God’s gift to politics.  The costs vary wildly.  Mining bosses like expensive drinks; prospective voters like KFC.  The KFC packages for all the prospective voters who eat KFC probably total up to the same price as just one of the mine boss’s drinks.  And some people can drink.  So though campaigning involves telling voters that they’re the buyers, they’re the bosses, they’re actually the product being sold to funders; more fundamentally, they are slaves picking their own slave-masters with government as go-between through the ruling party.  You get said voters to agree to this transaction by having a “good story to tell” about how they’re the primary beneficiaries.

Politicians call this tweak of perspective, “campaigning.”  A little child, unfettered by the moral complexities of adulting, would call it “lying.”  Imagine if children got to vote…

Which leads us to the second point.

2.) Politics Is the Art of Brainwashing People While Convincing Them that Their Superior Control of Their Own (Impeccable) Thought Processes Make Them Impervious to Brainwashing

Think about how often you’ve heard the word “populist” bandied about recently.

It’s become an accusation by the middle class / “the learned” that Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma use frustrations instead of “the truth” to get votes.  The implication is that poor people are more impressionable.

But this allows the upper classes / “the educated” to locate the ultimate explanation for poverty in poor people themselves so they, the well-off, may absolve themselves of benefitting from systems that impoverish those poor.  Believing that the status quo and the rules upholding it are fair enough that everyone has a decent chance at life is how the rich sleep better at night.  The nice cotton sheets probably help too.

The implication is that the poor are to blame for their circumstances — perhaps because they vote in politicians who don’t uphold the Constitution as they should.  You also see identity politics not just critiqued but criticized as though the critics’ real intentions aren’t as obvious as the bigger suburban houses and cars they live in and drive.

Where do the educated / rich get these ideas from?  They get them when they believe that some politicians are demagogues while others are not-demagogues but noble, heroic “truth-tellers.”  They must believe this story to justify the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed, and then, to put the cherry on top, say it is the poor whose desperation makes them more susceptible to emotional manipulation.

The Housewives may have lived on Wisteria Lane, but they, too, were desperate.

3.) Politics is Theatre 

I don’t want to sound cynical, nor do I mean to trample on the great, heartfelt work done by our noblest “heroes of the day.”  But when someone is congratulated, thanked or awarded for serving the state well, he or she is being praised for maintaining the illusion that the status quo and the laws pertaining thereto are just and worth fighting for; that there is a system to put faith in.

The “impartial”  media is there to frame and communicate this drama of heroes and villains to us.  We buy into it, believing it is as real as people thought Ntsiki Lukhele from Generations was all those years ago when they attacked the actress who played her, Pamela Nomvete.  Or Cherel De Villiers Haines when they attacked Michelle Botes.  So Thuli Madonsela: good; protagonist.  Jacob Zuma: bad; antagonist.

But are we not just responding as the politicians’ primary clients (the 1% who own 50% of everything) want us to?  Look at the evidence.

ABSA was pulled into scandal with leaked Public Protector’s provisional report.  Report found State should have made Bank pay back undue benefit it gained in its acquisition of Bankorp, which was beneficiary of apartheid-era corruption.

Did this investigation not take this long to spill into broad public awareness because The System cannot have politicians telling their clients that they’re visibly implicated as the bad guys — as Ntsiki Lukhele, as Cherel De Villiers Haines — of the drama those donors commissioned the politicians to make in order to take attention away from their offstage existence?

It is like that time South Africans were more fascinated by the drama between Generations producer Mfundi Vunda and the cast of the soapie than they were by the storyline of Generations itself.

What we are seeing is the ANC blackmail white monopoly capital, so-called, with the prospect of exposing its role as producer / scriptwriter if it does not stop sending investigators after the party.

The political drama only works as long as the gentlemen’s agreement of not uncovering one another’s most damning sins is maintained.

4.) Politics is Chess

If the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just keeping capital in check, its response to the provisional report would have underscored that Apartheid-era crime didn’t prejudice “South Africa” in the abstract; concretely speaking, many white people were enriched by it, and many black people harmed by it.

And if Thuli Madonsela could say she was not going to accept questions about whether the provisional leaked report had been tampered with (which says it was), then neither am I going to say if the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just holding capital hostage, it would have told Busi Mkhwebane to tamper with report findings (before arranging for its leak as though it were a sex tape or Hip-Hop single) to end with a stronger, more quotable, more sound-bitable reminder that the people prejudiced were black.   It did not end this way sufficiently to penetrate the media statements on the report.

ANC apathy towards black exploitation for its donors and stakeholders is wholly incompatible actual liberation.  For black poverty is not a problem to be addressed; it is a resource to be harnessed.  Desperate people (are supposed to) accept desperate wages.  Remember Marikana.

5.) Politics is About Stalling Justice

Cecil John Rhodes said UCT would be built “out of the Kaffir’s stomach” as would just about everything else.

It is the noon of apartheid.  A company has two labourers.  One is white; the other is black.  Job reservation says the white person has a more covetable job and higher salary than the black person.  Structured efficiently, this discriminatory labour practice makes the company more profitable, which, if there are enough companies run like this, makes South Africa look more investor-friendly (until the world decides apartheid is morally odious or economically unviable or both).

The State can also tax these companies or their employee incomes harder.  It benefits whichever way; it’s either selling its country as an investor’s dream, or using tax money to bail out banks that are funding white people things that otherwise would not  be funded.  The apartheid state gets to enjoy the thrill and patina of capitalism without doing away with the artificial mechanations of the communism it purports to protect its white voters and business stakeholders from.  Because your impeccable thought processes.

How else do you get the edifice of white supremacy built, unless white people who can’t afford suburban houses get loans from banks that are being bailed out; unless white people who have no capital are lent money to start businesses, at really low rates?

So when white supremacists tell you, “We white people built this country,” please paraphrase Jesus in your response: “Therefore you testify against yourselves that you are the children of them that used black blood, sweat and tears to build what you so eagerly take credit for having built.”

When we separate “good” politicians from “bad” ones in government, we’re saying that the laws we have in place are inherently just, they’re worth fighting for, there is a system to put faith in, and those politicians we’ve deemed “good” have fought well for it.  But is there such a system?

I’m going to make a #Scandal / #TheFixer reference, and yes, this blog will reference Shonda Rhimes’s series without warning.

On one episode, the Vice President was asked to sign a drafted bill intended to decrease the incidence of unarmed black men being shot by white police officers.

To everyone’s surprise, the Vice President insisted she’d have to read the whole bill again — not just the parts that had been amended, but the whole document, before signing it.

After reading it, she refused to sign it off.  Her reason?  “It’s a bunch of requests; it’s unenforceable.”  It was designed to give the impression that the issue had absorbed the government’s efforts.  But priorities and political will were split among too many conflicting interests for the drafters to actually solve the problem they were making a great show of solving.  Its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises.  In the Vice President’s understanding, to quote a review I read long ago, “A bill that would effect no consequences would, in the long run, turn out worse than no bill at all.”

What if our Constitution was a bunch of requests?

What if its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises?

What if, insofar as it speaks to racial inequality, its requests are unenforceable — and that, by design?

What if its purpose was to give us all the impression that somewhere in all the ceremonying and awarding and thanking, there had been found enough alignment along enough interests for a solution to emerge?

The ANC’s losses at local government elections last year weren’t a sign that the party is in decline or that it has to get rid of Jacob Zuma.  Rather, they were a sign that the ANC has used up every card it could play without sacrificing “white monopoly capital.”  The race card has neither expired nor is it exhausted; it remains valid for at least as long as apartheid ran or until the funds apartheid stole are transferred back.

Contrary to the white-populist narrative the DA would have you believe, you can still swipe the race card in South Africa.  Unlike a lot of other things here, it happens to still work just fine.

6.) Politics is War

Does the ANC have enough time to properly implement the BEE that could have possibly addressed public frustration at racial inequality?

Or will its survival lie in white Jesus’s atonement crucifixion?

Will the drama turn to action and the unreal into reality?

Whoever you are and whatever your race: if you have a God, start praying.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

There is a book working on me; watch this space

The Case for Apartheid

This post is going to cost me (even more) friends.  Oh well.

Following EWWI (Electronic World War One) over #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter over Friday and yesterday, I hereby make a case for as broad-scale a return of full-blown, institutionalised white supremacy as possible.

We Live White Supremacy Anyway

It has been generally known that Persons Of Colour (POCs) around the world get “the talk” in some form or another.

Growing up, we are made aware that there is a system that should, but does not, treat POCs the same way as white people.  This systemic racism most starkly shows its existence in instances of overt racism; the rest of the time it is subtle and insidious.  We are made aware that ignoring this system’s existence has graver consequences for POCs than it has for white people who never have to come to grips with their place of privilege in it.  This is why movements like #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) started.

On Friday, July 8 2016, this historic experience shared by countless POCs was supplanted in the imaginations of at least three white persons I know on Facebook, by the rantings of right-wing conspiracy theory mongers that explained police brutality as a measured response to black people’s unprovoked, unilateral violence against law enforcement agents.

How did these ill-founded speculations and distortions of fact get more airtime and traction on social media?  How have they come to so quickly shape a disproportionately larger part of the narrative than the lived experiences of many, many persons of colour?

How did mountains of video evidence of police brutality come to mean less than rumours?

Because black lives do not matter as much as the maintenance of white supremacy and the myth of the moral whiteness of whiteness, that is why.  Call people racist for believing this, and you become the bad guy.  Why?  Because whiteness is God.

Said conspiracy theorists say BLM proponents are playing into a scheme Obama’s backers cooked up to get him to power off of the back of (otherwise illegitimate) complaints about police brutality on black bodies.  They chose to believe that black people would prefer perpetual victimhood, the systemic mollycoddling and the “special rights” attendant to that, than to believe that real statistics really reflected real trends; they chose to believe that Obama’s speaking on gun violence and racial injustice was motivated more by political expediency than by actual events.  How was this explanation legitimised, oxygenated and entertained?  White supremacy.  We  are already living it.

How did the cry of one girlfriend of one black shooting victim get chosen to override and represent black voices who would otherwise say black lives matter?  How did these media sources manage to  find this one black woman when they hardly ever give airtime to BLM proponents?  Is that how finely their ears are tuned to the voices on the ground?  They must then know why the other voices are saying black lives matter, and not care.  So you must first give in to white supremacy for it to consider your voice worth hearing and your soul worth saving.

How did Dylan Roof’s assertion that black men were raping white women override, in white people’s imaginations, that it was white slave-masters who bought black Africans and abused them physically and sexually?  That black people have had horrendous medical experiments conducted on their bodies without their consent by the US government?  How did statistics and history get re-written?  White supremacy re-wrote it.

I could continue, but I think it is now plain to see that we live white supremacy.

White Supremacy and the South African Government

What if I told you that voting ANC is many black South Africans’ best chance at overriding the Constitution they see as blocking the path to the substantive equality demanded by the Freedom Charter?  Would that help explain why the ANC’s corruption and flouting of rules doesn’t lose them their core support base?

Government corruption, the melding of different entities’ powers or State to Party is how many of them make reparations happen when the beneficiaries of apartheid won’t admit how they got where they are.

The Mandelification of the 1994 transition served to turn our collective attention away from two questions: one, would it be possible to fix the wrongs of the past without making white people or businesses give up many of their gains?  Two: could there exist non-corrupt reasons for the ANC not to use State power to bring about substantive equality within a short time?

The answer to both questions was, and remains, No.

The fabulous wealth gained by a few struggle veterans who are now corrupt enrichers of their connected few friends was not a surprise or an aberration of the rainbow nation that began as apartheid ended.  It was the pre-planned 30 pieces of silver members of the incoming ruling elite were prepared to accept to maintain the status quo.

Two hypocrisies become clear:

One, the corruption of the ruling elite and those connected to them is railed against while what the status quo let white people keep is not.  Meanwhile, these are two sides of the same coin.

Two: the current government is judged by a standard the previous one was not when the current one really gets away with what it does because members of the previous one were not punished for their crimes.  Had they been punished, white supremacy would have crumbled.  Therefore, the two hypocrisies are one.

We tried to cheat history.  We tried to square the circle.  At best, it pushed out the real end of apartheid out another couple of decades.  At worst, it postponed an inevitable (and hideous) day of reckoning.  These two, also, are the same conclusion.

The case for apartheid, then, is this: bring the whole thing back so it may stand or fall in its totality.  The alternative, which is where we are going, is too frightening to contemplate.

#BringBackApartheid

The trick isn’t to fight white supremacy but to scrape and bow before it.  Let us worship all white people as though they were God, so that if they have any fear of God (conscience) they will fight white supremacy themselves and in so doing, avoid that terrifying alternative we are headed towards.  I see no other way to fix South Africa or, for that matter, every place that is ruled by white supremacy.

We must forcibly deny them and their children opportunities to develop or demonstrate virtues like humility and patience.  They must not be allowed to wait for anything, must always get undue credit for everything that goes right and no blame for anything that goes wrong, even when it is their fault.  Imputing perfect moral track records to them against their choice is how we would reject the superficial virtue-signalling that accompany condemnations of overt acts of racism but never covert and on-going racism.

Many white people have accused us of forcing them into the same mould in our discussions of whiteness.  This is actually a pretty telling (and disingenuous) suggestion on their part, one I think we must take literally.

The “woke” ones would understand why this is being done to all white people; the semi-woke ones who’d have us settle for less than complete intellectual dishonesty, however, would be disoriented by this subversion of their claim to distinctness from oppressive systems.  Their denial of complicity would be rendered meaningless until they all agree to overthrow the system (now in-your-face and out in the stark open) that favours white skin.

White supremacy would be forced to fully come face-to-face with its unmasked self, no filter option.  Brought into the open to rule by daylight, none of white supremacy’s beneficiaries would be able to deny that they have benefitted and continue to benefit from systemic racism.

We would have to make it blatant: “You are getting special treatment because you are white,” we would say as we force that special treatment on them.  They would be damned for accepting it and damned if they don’t.  The only way out of this trap would be their dismantling white privilege in its totality and not a convenient, partial dismantling thereof in its less essential parts.

We would put up signs reading, “whites only” on places: full-on segregation.  This would serve to ensure they can never just take some of the privilege so as to deny having had any of it on account of whiteness alone.

Force them to the front of lines because they’re white.  Imagine, entire supermarket queues chanting the words, “because you’re white!”  When waiters try to pick tables to attend to first, we would yell that they should start with those occupied by white people.  This is assuming we would be in the same restaurants.  Car cut you off in traffic?  Everyone yells “you may because you’re white!”  Refuse equal pay for equal work or access to comparable opportunities (assuming you have been getting it).  Where the world would whisper of rumours of white superiority, let us accept nothing less than it being shouted from rooftops.

Where they previously took it for granted that their discomfort at hearing or reading about white supremacy was sufficient reason for us to not talk about it, let us reject our complicity in our oppression by rejecting the pretense that neutrality was an option or that white supremacy was gone.  Where we were expected to explain white supremacy, let us return it so no explanation is necessary.

You do not have to hate white people to see the logic in what I am saying; you simply have to love intellectual honesty.  Indeed, a love of white people not founded on intellectual honesty is not love at all.

The cost on black lives can be managed once white supremacy doesn’t have to fight black resistance in order to reach total domination.  If we let it win without a fight, we let it revel out in the open in all its glorious shame.  Who, then, will be able to deny that it exists?

For these reasons, I submit that if we cannot completely get rid of apartheid, we must completely bring it back.

The tragedy is that though a lot of black people will agree with this method of confronting white supremacy, I would have to hunt down and entrust right-wing white supremacists with its rollout.  We hate the status quo, but not enough to beat it at its own game.

I would rather have apartheid that calls itself that than apartheid that calls itself democracy.

#BringBackApartheid

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