I had a number of emails from a range of people about my thoughts last week around the anti-Zuma protests.
While most were supportive and complimentary, I had a few angry ones accusing me of supporting Zuma’s response that the protests were racist.
I don’t! I think his comments simplify a very complicated issue.
For the most part, those who protested did so out of genuine concern for the country and what looks like us moving closer and closer towards dictatorship.
The racism comments stem from the fact that so many of the protesters were white.
And that was their biggest mistake – being white!
And of course not having protested all the other social and political problems with as much gusto in the past.
There have been many reasons to hit the streets in anger, but the same group has been deafeningly quiet. And that’s because those things don’t affect them directly.
And that was my main argument. To make sure that every South African progresses towards living a decent and acceptable life, we need to protest in our masses about many more things. Even when they don’t affect us.
Otherwise we run the risk of being accused of a bias that isn’t true, and that takes away from the impact. So, no, the protests aren’t racist at all.
If Zuma had thought about it carefully, then he would’ve realised that it couldn’t have been racist.
If it was, then those same people would’ve protested in their numbers against Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as well.
Because racism is equal opportunity bias; it doesn’t discriminate based on personality.
At best, the protesters were anti-corruption and at worse they were anti-persistent-presidential-stupidity!
There’s clearly a difference. I would like to think that they would’ve come out toyi-toying even if Zuma was an elderly white guy who stopped giggling long enough to systematically destroy the economy.
I tell you what I do support, is a Twitter post last week. I don’t remember the exact words. It was something to the effect of our leaders are warning us to quietly allow them to plunder our coffers, or they will plunge this country into a race war. It really does feel that way.
Every time someone questions the powers that be, they bring it back to racism and the legacy of apartheid.
There are times when racism can be blamed, but mostly it’s a question of credibility and ability.
And of course apartheid’s legacy continues to disadvantage people severely and cause extreme social and psychological problems on a mass scale.
Those things must be top of mind all the time for us, until it stops impacting individual progress. But there are certain things that are about much simpler issues that boil down to concern for your fellow countryman.
President Zuma is lacking in this department.
I am also very interested in what’s being called the politics of patronage. But I don’t think many people understand what exactly that means, so it doesn’t get discussed over the braai as often as it should.
Well, let me spell it out for you. It simply means presidents who put ministers and other leaders in positions that will benefit him and his family in the long run.
For many it is clear that Zuma is moving some of his favourite people into jobs they are not qualified for, simply so they can agree with whatever it is he wants done.
And what he wants done is to not be prosecuted when he leaves office and for his children and relatives to continue benefiting from the biggest tenders available.
And you do that by giving decision-makers lots of power and lots of money.
As long as they are happy with their bank accounts every month, they will make sure your wishes are their commands.
And if you’re the only one who can hire and fire them, it makes life that much easier.
I’m afraid the ghost of Zuma is going to be around in our system for a long, long time after he’s gone!