The pervasive power of Whiteness: Zille vs Masixole!!

Frantz Fanon in his seminal speech delivered before the First Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in Paris in September 1956, avers that “Racism is not the whole but the most visible, the most day-to-day and, not to mince matters, the crudest element of a given structure…This precise cultural element, however, has not become encysted. Racism has not managed to harden. It has had to renew itself, to adapt itself, to change its appearance. It has had to undergo the fate of the cultural whole that informed it.” This means that racism never dies, rather it reinvents itself and continues insidiously. This is true for post-1994 South Africa, where the ushering of a democratic dispensation, the drafting of a new Constitution and introduction of a Bill of Rights were meant to represent a break from the country’s wretched past of Apartheid. However, these have failed to adequately address and destroy the continuation of racism and the legacy of Apartheid. Whereas, the new dispensation sought to end “certain definite abuses: forced labour, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, limitation of political rights, etc.”, it has however failed dismally due to in part, the incompetence and lack of decisiveness informed by ideological deficiency of those who came to power in 1994. The socio-economic reality of Black people has continued unabated; as they remain landless, poor and victims of racism.

 

The decision of the African National Congress leadership to foster reconciliation through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission instead of enforcing restoration and restitution through a Land and Economic Justice Commission, allowed racism and its beneficiaries to get away with their crimes and instead reinvent themselves while continuing to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have become weapons for White racists to continue undermining the plight of Blacks. They continue to spew their bigotry under the guise of Freedom of Speech.

 

One Helen Zille is one such racist. She has consistently used public platforms to degrade, undermine and throw scorn at the genuine struggles Black people face. Her latest racist vitriol comes through her article in the Daily Maverick titled, From the Inside: The ‘silent majority’ needs to find its voice. This article seem to have been prompted by lack of DASO’s participation (a Democratic Alliance student wing) in the recently held University of Cape Town’s Student Representative Council elections, which saw the result turn out as follows: EFF students 6 seats; Pan-Africanist Student Movement 5; SASCO 1; “Independents” 3. For Zille, the results are lack credibility because 1. DASO did not participate 2. Masixole Mlandu, (whom Zille frames as  violent, uncivilized, a ringleader of a marauding gang and a face of the Fallism that either belongs in a dungeon or expelled from the University) won though the PASMA ticket. This, to her, is a sign of a departure from “the legacy of Nelson Mandela or our Bill of Rights”, who she conveniently fails to mention they have both largely buttresed the system of Apartheid and allowed for a continuation of the status quo. Zille accuses Masixole Mlandu, (who is seen as a proper representation of the plight and struggles of Blacks in this land) and his politics, of totalitarianism and equates them to Nazism. Mlandu and other fallists are called “deeply intolerant, closed-minded and unprincipled ideologues”. This, implies that, for their politics to be regarded as progressive, Fallists ought to conform to the supra-rational comforts of the far-right and neo-liberals whites of South Africa like Zille. The real reason behind this indictment of the Fallists by Zille, being that, in embracing righteous anger, consistent and inspired by Black Consciousness as articulated and espoused by brilliant Black thinkers like Steve Biko and Frantz Fanon, the Fallists have reopened the book on the sellout ‘historical compromises’ of CODESA and the 1994 ‘miracle’. The Fallists irk Zille because they are reopening the dialogue on the pain of loss (landless), isolation(disenfranchisement) and oppression that Zille and DASO’s seek to airbrush through their selective reading of Nelson Mandela’s legacy and convenient appreciation of democracy without restitution and reparations. As far as Zille is concerned, for Fallists to be thesis of open enquiry, they should be tolerant of white arrogance and violence disguised as open dialogue and freedoms of speech and expression. To refuse this, according to the Madam, is to be opposed to the “truth that is central to the pervasive “race shaming”” she claims “has become the primary tool of South Africa’s emerging totalitarians (read Fallists), who drive their distortions and deceits”.

 

This latest injunction by Zille is one of many ways that racism in South Africa rears its head and calls for the urgency to uproot it while we can. Even though she uses the chances our democracy has afforded her, mala fide, her actions must act as a reminder to that the ‘historical compromises’ of pre-94 disadvantaged the victims of Zille’s kinfolk and thus require a decolonization project so massive that a Fanonian prophesy of “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first” becomes not just a truism but a reality, one that Masixole Mlandu represents aptly.

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