Mike van Graan
Mike van Graan

Cry (wolf racism) the beloved country

There is probably nothing as tiresome, irritating and reactionary in contemporary South African discourse as the knee-jerk accusation of racism in response to anything critical of the ANC government, of any black person or of any institution that happens to be managed by black people (in the broadest, Biko-esque sense of “black”).

Ironically, this knee-jerk, superficial and notoriously defensive use of the “race card” potentially sustains racism in that when real racism rears its ugly head, many will ignore it as the false “it is racist” cries have caused deaf ears to develop.

It is the South African equivalent of the sheep-herding boy who regularly — but falsely — claimed that a wolf was about to attack his sheep, thus provoking the community in his and the herd’s defence, only to discover that in fact, there was no wolf. When a wolf finally did attack his herd, the shepherd boy called for help, but no-one responded, believing that it was yet again a false cry. And the shepherd, his herd — and the community — suffered substantial loss.

One encounters “cry wolf” racism everywhere. In protecting corrupt officials. In deflecting official incompetence. In defence of the Nkandla compound. In justifying overnight wealth. More often than not, “cry wolf” racism is but a spurious attempt to silence criticism, to suppress freedom of expression and to manipulate the terms on which public debate occurs.

Now it would appear that even government is beginning to acknowledge and take action around various things that provoked widespread criticism in the past, and for which “cry wolf” racism was invoked as a defence.

The public service commission has indicated to parliament that corruption among public servants had cost the state nearly R1 billion in 2011/2012, with more than 4 000 public officials facing charges of corruption, fraud or theft. The diagnostic report of the national planning commission — not exactly a publication of the “white controlled media” — lists endemic corruption as one of the country’s key challenges. In the recent parliamentary debate on the president’s State of the Nation address, senior cabinet ministers — not MPs in the “white” opposition — bemoaned the huge expenditure on consultants, which reflects the lack of competencies within government, where thousands of officials are employed to do exactly the jobs for which consultants are contracted.

These ministers also promised to root out the practice of government employees forming companies that tendered for — and got — government work, thereby enriching themselves, their close friends and family members in the process. As a deterrent to corruption by government officials and companies doing business with government, the justice cluster has promised to “name and shame” corrupt public servants.

Legitimate criticism has not only been levelled by “white” critics who, by virtue of simply being white (the anti-apartheid credentials of some notwithstanding) are deemed to be racist, or past beneficiaries of apartheid, and therefore without moral foundation to “speak truth” to the (black) government of the day. Leading black (in the narrow, non-Biko-esque definition) figures have also been sharp critics of government incompetence, corruption and general failure to realise its many election promises.

Just this last week, Barney Pityana, former vice-chancellor of Unisa, wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma in which he stated that “we remain a long way from what Nelson Mandela promised in July 1993 when he said that ‘the time had come for us to address the burning question of feeding the millions in our country, clothing the millions that are naked, accommodating the millions that are homeless, and creating jobs for the millions who are unemployed’ ”. He writes further “clearly the president and his party lack the motivation, skills and ideas to transform this country into the haven of opportunity and prosperity that 1994 promised”. The purpose of the letter was to ask President Zuma to resign “in the interests of progress and development of our country”.

In a series of articles in City Press, Njabulo Ndebele masterfully dissected the lying and dishonesty around the exorbitant public expenditure on President Zuma’s personal home in KwaZulu-Natal.

When launching her party political platform, Mamphela Ramphele stated “our country is at risk because self-interest has become the primary driver of many of those in positions of authority who should be focussed on serving the public … corruption, nepotism and patronage have become the hallmarks of the conduct of many in public service”.

Even a close ally of the ANC, Cosatu’s general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi said in an address “we’re headed for a predator state where a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas are increasingly using the state to get rich”. He further stated that just like a hyena whose daughters eat first, so, in a predator state, the chief of state’s family eats first. And this was before the Nkandla scandal.

There are not a few within the ruling elite who believe that such criticism by progressives should not be levelled publicly as it “provides ammunition to the enemy”. The truth is that “the enemy” is within; the external “enemy” — such as it is — needs little ammunition to critique the ruling party as these failures are writ large not least in the daily protests of ordinary people, the primary constituency of the ruling party.

If it is not already clear, it should be emphasised that incompetent civil servants are not criticised because they are black, but because they are not doing the jobs for which they are being paid handsomely, thereby compromising service delivery and the substantial transformation of poor people’s lives.

Civil servants and politicians who commit fraud and are dishonest are not exposed because they are black, but because they are stealing from the public purse, because they are enriching themselves at the expense of the poor, because their primary concern is themselves and those close to them, rather than the interests of the majority of our people.

Individuals who become extraordinarily wealthy in a short space of time are not criticised because racists don’t want black people to be rich, but because in a society that has become increasingly unequal, where unemployment has skyrocketed and where most people continue to live below the poverty line, it is obscene that so few people should become so rich due largely to little other than being part of a political elite.

It is not racist to be scandalised by the application of millions of rands from the public purse to the president’s personal home, but rather because when millions of people continue to be homeless, when the houses that have been built post-1994 are falling apart, when those houses reflect the dehumanising designs and spatial arrangements of the apartheid era, it is completely unacceptable that the president — essentially a public servant — has his massive home compound further upgraded by more than R200 million!

The government is not criticised because it is black, it is because it is the government and, among other things, it has presided over the decline in education, in health services, in employment, in security of its citizens and in life expectancy.

Post-1994, it was morally and politically correct to transform the management and governance of the civil service and a host of other state-funded institutions so that these better reflected the demographics — in terms of gender, culture, “race”, language, disability etc — of our society, than that inherited from our apartheid past.

Nearly 20 years later, there are at least three conclusions that we can draw from these changes:

a. While there are many committed and able civil servants at all levels of government, there is also a substantial number who simply do not have the skills, commitment and experience to do the jobs required of them. In such cases, superficial demographic transformation of the civil service has severely compromised and even retarded the substantial transformation of our society in the interests of the greater majority of our citizens.

b. It is not necessarily true that black civil servants — by virtue of their historical and racial identification with the masses of South Africans — will act in the best interests of the majority. The numerous fraud, theft and corruption cases against, and the internal tenderpreneurship of many civil servants reflect greater self-interest, rather than the interests of those who need and expect effective public service.

c. That more than R90 billion has been spent on external consultants by government departments reflects not only the lack of capacity within government, but also a substantial loss to the public purse as taxpayers are paying double (government officials and consultants) for the same job. Such resources could be better spent on the delivery of key services.

The struggle was not to replace white snouts at the trough of public funds with black snouts, it was to change our society so that the overwhelming majority of people could enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms as human beings and as enshrined in the Constitution. That struggle continues precisely because many beneficiaries of the current system regarded the struggle simply as one defined by race, that it was an “anti-apartheid” struggle rather than a struggle for economic equity and social justice in which “race” was an (albeit important) adjunct. For them, eliminating structural apartheid was the open-season catalyst for a few to enrich themselves, to acquire wealth “like whites did”, to compete materially “with whites” and to enjoy the social and other consumptive benefits “preserved for whites only” under apartheid. For this reason, overnight wealth and self-enrichment are defended and justified largely through the prism of “race”, for when these are measured against the ideal of a better life for all, such wealth and enrichment are morally and politically indefensible.

Is there racism in contemporary South Africa? Absolutely! Much of it is a legacy of our past and yet we need to confront the uncomfortable truth that a number of post-1994 actions and practices of those in authority have actually reinforced, confirmed or inspired racism. And this is not simply racism between the white and black protagonists of the apartheid era, but also between different “population groups” within South Africa, as well as between South Africans and people from other African countries.

Notwithstanding this, there is an enormous number of people — of all “population groups” — who are just getting on and doing things, perhaps not to change the world or our society as a whole, but who are making a difference where they can in the lives of one or two individuals, or in sections of communities. I have no doubt that there is incredible goodwill and willingness on the part of many to contribute to building a society in which the quality of life for most, if not all, of our citizens is improved. But many have been alienated, debilitated and marginalised by the ruling elite’s love and application of cry-wolf racism to defend, advance and benefit itself.

Writing before the Mangaung conference in December last year, Tony Yengeni, a senior ANC member bemoaned the way in which ANC members were contesting positions of power. “One has watched with dismay as inflamed passions have closed the ears and minds of competing groups to opposing arguments and ideas. Each group fervently believes it is right and all the others are wrong … one outcome is that those who state their views frankly and fearlessly can immediately be labelled and derided as ‘right-wing opportunists’, ‘ultra-leftists’, ‘populists’ or even ‘enemy agents’.”

Based on this, it would appear that currently within the ANC, this is how critics or competing arguments are dealt with, not by engaging with the substance of the argument in an intellectually rigorous manner, but simply by dismissing the holder of the opposing view with some negative label. This is exactly the manner in which “cry-wolf” racism is used — smear the critic, and then one does not have to deal with the argument. Another example is Gwede Mantashe’s pathetic attempt to ridicule Ramphele’s venture into politics as some kind of American imperialist plot in southern Africa.

For the sake of our democracy-in-progress, for the sake of the real fight against racism in all its forms, and most importantly, for the sake of the substantial transformation of our society so that all our citizens enjoy a better life, “cry wolf” racism and its censorial intent must be rejected, and all citizens need to speak out and act in defence of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all.

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  • 45 Responses to “Cry (wolf racism) the beloved country”

    1. Great piece of truth. Well done. And thank you for speaking out.

      February 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm
    2. Yaj #

      Well said , Mike. totally agree.

      That is why we need a paradigm shift in our macroeconomic policy framework to address the challenge of Peak Oil and managing a shrinking economic pie going forward in a socially just, non-racial and egalitarian way.

      We need to unite around serious alternatives to this pathetic destructive neoliberal nonsense starting with:

      1. Universal basic income starting with R200 per citizen per month issued as TEQ’s (tradable energy quotas)

      2. Public banks to fund renewable energy infrastructure, light rail and local farming.

      3. Replace fractional reserve banking with full reserve banking.

      4.Replace income tax and VAT with a levy on all financial transactions and a Land Tax

      5. Cap the pay ratio of company executives to lowest paid employee at 100:1

      6.Free healthcare and education up to tertiary level.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm
    3. Refilwe #

      It’s so difficult to remove race from our discourse because it’s almost ingrained in how we process the world and one another. We desperately need to answer the call of those who don’t even have the basic necessities to survive – a decent wage, housing, education, health care, respect, dignity and a voice in our democracy. It will take a lot more than purging government of corrupt and incompetent civil servants to achieve this. It will take more than building houses and providing jobs. These practical issues are absolutely necessary – even foundational. But South Africa still needs to heal. We are a psychologically wounded society and it shows in the extreme violence that has captivated our headlines for the past month. We still have deep, uncomfortable and introspective work to do on our racial issues, and this has to be coupled with addressing the “practical stuff”. Race is hard, it’s overwhelming and yes it’s tiresome. There is no running away from that. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m the only one who thinks this and perhaps the country has moved on and left me way behind.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm
    4. Tofolux #

      @Mike, after reading I am left wondering if this is about corruption, racism or the ANC. In making the point of racism you talk about “incompetence, dishonesty and you talk about animals ie sheep and wolves, you also talk abt barney, city press’s njabulo, mamphele and for good measure mangaung. You end off with a plea for morality, committment, a real fight, transformation, for all our sakes”. Now, I am left wondering if you understand racism and the nature of white racism in particular. The wording that you use have strong undertones. In fact, it is part of a particular coding which has been used during the 350yrs of oppression against blacks in particular. Your descriptions therefore exposes a certain state of mind. Also, I wonder why you have not seperated corruption and racism. You ask “is there racism in South Africa” and I am left wondering how the link between racism and corruption is made? I say this becos I am yet to hear accusations of racism when someone is convicted on charges of corruption. It is also quite remiss for you to leave out the question of who the corruptees or ask who exactly the corruptors might be? is this a one-way operation that has only reared its ugly head post 1994? The point is that you have posed the question but in putting the debate, done it in the most disingenous way. Hence are you serious about our society or is this another narrow debate with the usual coded messaging?

      February 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm
    5. MLH #

      Glad you got there. Glad you said it so succinctly. Thank you. Hope someone listens.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm
    6. Siya #

      Good point Tofolux

      February 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm
    7. Brent #

      Tofolux, what is your coded message? The writer says yes very firmly that there remains racialism in SA. Hispoint is that to complain about the spending of R90 billion (how many houses, schools, hospitals, police stations etc etc can this buy) on consultants is not racialism but the necessary holding of the Govt to account.

      Brent

      February 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm
    8. Charlotte #

      Brilliant, Mike! Clear thinking, perceptive and correct.

      February 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm
    9. Ngelengele #

      @Mike

      I was totally lost with your article, you ask questions on racism yet you bring up answers on corruption. That in itself is racism. ANC doesn’t applause corruption and mostly it is people in ANC and alliance who speaks out on corruption. True, some in ANC and government are corrupt but to paint everyone as corrupt while accepting that within itself ANC speaks out on corruption is totally disingenuous.

      The “cry wolf” knee-jerk reaction you talk about is a double edge sword, it is the same reaction you’ve applied in your article. Black people experiences serious cases of racism in their work place, in public platforms, private sector etc. yet every time they complain answers of corruption by black people are raised to prevent them from growing.
      I wish you could re-read your article and this time think racism not corruption, you will find what you’ve done is repeat the same old white rhetoric whenever black people complain RACISM.

      February 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm
    10. NYEBE #

      @Tofolux and Siya
      I bet you did not read the whole article, if you did, you missed the context totally. The point being made is against what Tofolux is on at the moment- defending well meaning and true criticism with “labelling and name-calling”! A lot of examples are provided in the article, yet I fail to see how you could have forgotten the writer so wrong. Perhaps you need to read the story again lest we label as being schooled in the same frame of thought that the article bemoans. Or else, you are just so schooled you cannot see any other way to decode that thinking of always being on the defensive even where there needs to be acceptance and reflection.

      February 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm
    11. Tofolux and Siya & Ngelengele #
      @Didn’t you entirely miss the point ! I hope this abysmal inability to hear our respective voices is not irreparably symptomatic of the state of our zeitgeist. The ANC excels and revels in corruption, purloining state funds and spinning their way out of the spotlight by, scapegoating and reciting the racial mantra just as asininely as did their Nat predecessors, sadly so – the ANC didn’t invent corruption nor is it endemic to this country or unique to any race, It is however unfortunately becoming enshrined into the ruling ethos, defended and seen as an indispensable part of black-empowerment, an antidote to colonial wrongs and the racial outrages of yesteryear. Ok so who’s kidding who ? Who prospers from this defensive posturing ? R 2oo million + + + !

      February 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm
    12. Momma Cyndi #

      I think people need to get a dictionary.
      Racism is NOT defined as disagreeing with someone. To say that it is ‘racist’ to question the ANC’s commitment to getting rid of the corruption within its own ranks is ridiculous. Unless the ANC has suddenly become a ‘blacks only’ party and no other race group is allowed into the party, then it cannot be racist.

      That poor, tattered, torn and abused race card is fast losing its value. It is hauled out at every opportunity. The sad part is that, you are right, the first thought that goes through my head when the race card is drawn is ‘another lost argument’. It completely destroys the true horror of racism.

      February 27, 2013 at 5:01 am
    13. Free us from the ANC #

      clearly you are racist! (tongue in cheek!)

      February 27, 2013 at 7:42 am
    14. Now this is how its done folks! Mike van Graan demonstrates how to write a diatribe!
      It seems from his twisted logic that our systemic problems caused by centuries of colonialism and apartheid can be reversed in a mere two decades while BOAs (beneficiaries of apartheid), like Mike and his ilk, must be allowed to continue to wallow in their ill-gotten gains. Our economy, media, land ownership etc…are all still dominated by BOAs while they continue to sabotage our governments transformation initiatives at every turn.

      Nice try Mike, but the wolf that still stalks our society is the exactly the festering racism that you want to deny! This is the wolf that needs to be caged. Maybe you should learn from Niki Moore’s excellent article http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/readerblog/2009/04/17/time-to-shift-our-attitude/ that explains why BOAs need to change their attitude or brace themselves for a rough ride in the new SA. Its going to get a lot bumpier mate! ;-)

      February 27, 2013 at 9:14 am
    15. Enough Said #

      Brilliant Mike van Graan, brilliant article.

      The “white racist” has replaced the “swart gevaar”. Same (non-existent) wolf, different sheep’s clothing.

      Yesterday I bought the book “The Great African Society; A Plan for a Nation Gone Astray” by Hlumelo Biko (son of Steve Biko and Mamphela Ramphele).

      I have just finished the second chapter. Riveting reading for me.

      February 27, 2013 at 11:32 am
    16. Sipiwo Pahlane #

      Whow!!!! If racism and corruption is read in the same line I am appalled by the level of denialism racists would go to defend it. Its like a hyena telling the sheep to stop complaining and be ready to be devoured. One of the reasons that racism will never be addressed is that racists are very manipulative in order to perpertuate racism. For good measure, the only way one could understand racism is by being on the receiving end of it. To therefore bind it with corruption is totally off.

      February 27, 2013 at 11:34 am
    17. Just a Thought #

      Tofulux, Mike Harris and Co, continually miss the point with every article that is posted on thought leader. Its actually becoming laughable at how steadfast they stand in the government’s corner when fact upon fact is laid out in front of us daily.

      Everytime I read their responses i hear an overly cliched american accent in my head that shouts “swing and a miss, you’rrrrrre out”.

      February 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm
    18. if this is an article under “thought leader” then I am lost for words. I have heared this rant before and is typical of what non blacks talk about in whites only bars i.e. “they – meaning blacks/black government/anc are just plain incompetent as a race, look there is corruption everywhere, ZImbabwe, Africa, blah blah; We invented everything what have they done” I ma disspointed in the “thought leader” honeslty I am….

      February 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    19. Lennon #

      I’ve seen this in every day situations, from a family member laying the blame on something at the feet of “f***ing k*****s” to being called a “f****ing racist white” for not giving some random person my ciggie.

      The previous government created a powerful system of racism and the current government seems to be taking tips from them.

      The race card somehow always seems to make it to the poker table in SA. Here it’s the ultimate weapon of mass distraction.

      February 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm
    20. Ngelengele #

      The gibberish of ANC is “corrupt” will never hide the fact that the majority of white people are still Racists and remain so well after 20 yrs of political liberation. This “cry-wolf” tactic is nothing but “swaart-gevaar”.
      The white racism is blind to the majority of South Africans who now have shelter, running water and electricity and many other humanly needs, which were denied to black people for decades. Still, more needs to be done and will be done.
      The elements of corruption in our government are known and ANC is the first to accept that, in any platform. Using this problem to divert the society from ingrain racism of white people in work places, farms, public platforms etc. is indigenous by Mike and ilk’s and will never deter ANC from emancipating black people.
      Corruption and racism is never the same and any attempt to make it look similar is racist to the core. Advocating for continual racism under the disguise of raising corruption is a tried and tested propaganda that most privileged white people and media have been doing ever since ANC took political power. This propaganda seeks to prevent black people from participating and ever achieving economic freedom. It will never work; we will root it out from its core. We will follow it on social networks and any social engagement with the majority of the people. We will see to it that people are informed and this propaganda never see light of the day, it will remain in the shadows of apartheid where it belong.

      February 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm
    21. Khulman #

      The problem with the article is that it lacks context of where we are in our development as a country. Black people are not in a position to trust criticsm by whites as fair and unbiased, and the knee-jerk reaction stems from that lack of trust. For 350 years there has been brutal oppression generally identified as whites on blacks. How do you suddenly trust that someone who’s done such attrocities to you suddenly can be fair in their criticism? Most of the inequalities that existed in these 350 years are still very real for the majority of black people, so now the guy who was part of the SADF is now on some platform criticising the same people he was chasing who are now in government – there’s only one way their opinion will be recieved – with great suspicion.

      Mike – nothing has changed for the majority of blacks, and we attribute our current situation to the past 350 year, not the past 20. Those who are responsible for the past 350 years would naturally be viewed with suspicion – which part of that is odd to you?

      February 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm
    22. Juju Esq. #

      The only time people argue in as consistently flawed manner as Tofolux et.al is when they are spin doctors paid to counter the truth on behalf of vested interests, or are not very clever.

      February 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm
    23. Zeph #

      The demographics of the people who are posting and their posts tell us a lot.
      We are a deeply fractured society and the easiest thing to do is to fall into the ‘us’ and ‘them’ camps. ‘I will blame them as it is not us’ is the shallow mould of us all.

      We are all equal as citizens in law but not as people. We have our differences. We should strive for individual brilliance not mediocrity. We should celebrate that we are each individuals who can potentially achieve great things.
      We should aspire towards theses things and not wish those that are ill will.

      That will bring success.

      February 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm
    24. JUJU esq you sound like a Julius i once knew….you dont make sense at all.

      February 27, 2013 at 4:20 pm
    25. Sipho #

      The strategy is to delegitimise and undermine the government by shouting corruption at every turn. Indeed this strategy is working among the black elite but the difficulty for this grouping is that at large it’s dependent on the government for its status. Those blacks in the private sector are caught between a rock and a cement block – professed hatred of public sector corruption doesn’t translate into acceptance to the private sector dinner table.Don’t get me wrong there’s some corruption but not at the level we’re made to believe.

      February 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm
    26. No, I too did not bother to read the entire article .
      We have 11 languages in this country, 10 of which were denied access to……everything .
      Now 20 years later you expect the 10 to compete at every level? Hey?
      Get a life, be thankful . South AFRIKA is doing just fine.
      Not fine and “vlenters” as some would like it to be.

      February 28, 2013 at 1:06 am
    27. Sinethemba #

      Well said!!!!

      February 28, 2013 at 11:06 am
    28. Brent #

      Dave Harris, Khulman and others 350 years of oppression?? That is year 1663, Whitey had only landed on the Cape 11 years previously so please explain how a band of a few dozen guys in Cape Town can oppress a whole country right up to the Limpopo, obviously rubbish. The oppressive system is gone, its effects live with us for a few generations but this time can be shortened by good, honest govt at all levels from top down to municipal level. Moaning about past oppression does not build one house, improve one hospital, equip one police station or arrest one very crooked politician, STEALING the future of the peope who were oppressed in the past. Please explain how allowing the current politicians to steal heals the oppression of the past??????

      Brent

      February 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm
    29. Lennon #

      @ Brent: According to some sources, it’s been happening in SA for 500 years.

      *shrug*

      February 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm
    30. Gareth V #

      So the black respondents cry ‘bollocks’ to this article, while the white respondents says ‘bravo’
      I had to check to see if I was reading news24?
      Judging by the responses I can only assume that this article is poorly written as it merely has respondents pouring out the usual stereotypical responses on racism.
      There is nothing I can add about racism that hasn’t already been said over hundreds of years.

      I saw the following line and pointed it out on another blog on this site, but I think it applies here to: “I hate you, because I’m lazy”.
      Have we South Africans become lazy amid so much hatred?

      @ phezu kwabo # whites only bars? Not enforced I hope?

      February 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm
    31. @Brent , Lennon
      What’s a century between friends hey? Whether it was 3, 4 or 5 centuries of brutal white oppression, does it really make a difference? Besides, you know who’s been writing the history books all this time, right?!

      “honest govt at all levels from top down to municipal level”
      Now show me ANY democracy ANYWHERE in the world that is not corrupt at EVERY level!! This is why its becomes so obviously racist when you and your ilk want to constantly hold our government to such unattainable standards.

      February 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm
    32. Mike van Graan

      I had hoped that THOUGHTLEADER would provide a forum for rational argument rather than simply be another forum for racial invective or polarisation along racial lines.

      For those who troll these forums only to assume racially defensive positions no matter the evidence or argument to the contrary, there is little that one can do to change that.

      For those who did not read or who mis-read the article, it made the following points:
      1. There is racism in our country.
      2. The battle against real racism however, is undermined when criticism of corruption, official ineffectiveness or non-delivery of services is labelled “racist”.
      3. Highly credible black African figures are delivering robust critiques of government and of the ruling elite, so labelling such criticism as “racist” makes no sense. Denying their existence or their scale does not help to address the problems.
      4. The article did not imply that 300 or more years of colonialism/apartheid can be overturned in two decades, but it does lay responsibility for the deepening economic inequality, the rising unemployment, the decline in life expectancy and the looting of the public purse such as in the case of the Nkandla compound, at the foot of our government.

      The irony of these racially defensive positions is that in reality, it is the poor in our country – mostly black African people – who continue to be the victims, and who don’t express themselves in Thoughtleader, but on the streets, mostly in protest…

      February 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm
    33. Charlotte #

      The word ‘diatribe’ means abuse, castigation … often used to refer to the tired-old tirades and racist rants that D.H. regurgitates ad nauseum – and which he now ludicrously ascribes to the intelligent, well-written and well-measured article by Mike van Graan.
      To quote Mike:” One encounters “cry wolf” racism everywhere. In protecting corrupt officials. In deflecting official incompetence. In defence of the Nkandla compound. In justifying overnight wealth. More often than not, “cry wolf” racism is but a spurious attempt to silence criticism, to suppress freedom of expression and to manipulate the terms on which public debate occurs.”
      And the word ‘deflect’ is exactly what takes place with trolls like Harris.
      Apart from his blatant racism (isn’t DH supposed to be representative of the ‘non-racist’ democratic ANC? Next joke!) his primary function is also to divert the topic, by doing exactly what Mike describes –
      In fact, DH epitomises exactly to what Mike is referring: He typifies the blind, stubborn asininity of someone who cannot, will not, pretends not, or is paid enough, not to grasp (no matter how many times it is patently and patiently explained), the difference between racism (distinction of people by virtue of race and, in his case, simply hating all Whites) and criticism of government and/or political party.
      Dave Harris offers no meaningful suggestions, no solutions, no originality of thought. He and ‘et ilk’ only rant.

      March 1, 2013 at 8:15 am
    34. Lennon #

      @ Dave Harris: Still waiting for that proof you never have.

      “Now show me ANY democracy ANYWHERE in the world that is not corrupt at EVERY level!!” – I guess the Nats should’ve been left alone then.

      We still friends?

      March 1, 2013 at 11:44 am
    35. Truth be known #

      @Mike van Graan

      You motivation for writing the article is good and the article is excellent.

      What you have to realize is political power is at stake, if the wrong president gets elected next year, or in five years time, there could be no indemnity for certain corruption charges and arms deal charges. Powerful people could go to jail.

      I believe there are people paid to troll blog sites and stir racial animosity, divide and rule, to keep an existing power clique safe.

      Divide and rule still works. Create an enemy to fight and blame to rally the faithful during elections.

      March 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm
    36. Brent #

      Dave Harris, you are the racist, it is inherent in every single blog you write. There are many many countries where most levels of Govt are basically honest and most things get done; from Europe to N.America to most parts of Asia. Dave answer yes or no; do you agree with our Govt spending ± R90 billion on consultans (official audit not white moaning) and not on schools, hospitals, crime prevention etc etc????? Try to give your answer without one racist jib.

      Brent

      March 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm
    37. Tofolux #

      @Mike, here is the irony though. In putting the debate, albeit that you have done it so fallaciously, you now want to set the rules of engagement as well. Not only do you use words eg troll which I must reiterate, some of us will not understand only because we are not part of the inner circle who understands the coded messaging. But clearly there is something wrong and clearly it is not those who have exposed your absolute bias. Hint, if you are going to put a debate, there has to be a particular consciousness that not only would you miss some important points but also to allow yourself to be subjected to interrogation. No one has any monopoly on any knowledge and even Madiba engaged, participated and learnt during the battle of ideas. From a thoughleader, I expect new, provocative and different thinking. This is the essence of leading on thought. Pointing fingers and disengaging yourself from your own debate is something we have seen and experienced before and its definitely not new, provocative or different.

      March 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm
    38. Sipho #

      Truth be known # pull the other one. He read too much right-wing newspapers.You know this is nonsense, no ANC president can make such a decision on his own. The wrong president you have in mind is free to contest the next election and deny Zuma the indemnity you’re desperately looking to. Do something about it, it’s not gonna happen on its own.

      March 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm
    39. ConCision #

      AWFUL EARFUL
      T’fLux is the al of ‘mal’
      & Dave Harris’s ‘et al’.

      March 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm
    40. Solly Moeng #

      Nice piece, Mike

      Your article articulates the frustrations of many – black and white – South Africans. It is true that there has been too much abuse of the race card out there. It has gone so far that, as you correctly point out, triue and genuine cries of racism, where these occure, no longer get taken with the seriousness they deserve.This is very sad indeed!

      It is also true that the levels of corruption and defence of the indefencible amongst those who are linked to power and have managed to line up their pockets, as well as those who still aspire to get there – and will defend the indefensible because they know which side their bread is buttered – are potential democracy and national unity killers. If there is a threat to whatever ‘national unity’ we’ve managed to build in this country since 1994, the abuse of public resources – starting with the obscene expenditure on Zuma’s private village – should sit right at the top of the list of these threats to our democracy.

      Some will criticise you for saying these things because they perceive you to be a white man; but you are not alone, Mike!

      This country needs more voices of courage!

      Solly

      March 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm
    41. ConCision #

      Lost in Verbosity

      What’s the point?
      Is there any?
      Or did it just get lost
      In the burble
      Of verbal Toffle-waffle?

      March 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm
    42. MrK #

      (Continued…) Political Corruption In South Africa: Before and After Apartheid, by Jonathan Hislop, Journal of Southern African Studies, Volume 31, Number 4, December 2005:

      ” Finally, those attacking the ANC from the left condemn corruption as just one dimension of the exploitative behaviour of the elite and the rise of capitalism, comparing South Africa to other postcolonial states that havethrown up self-aggrandising elites. All of these implicit or explicit comparisons rely to some degree on caricatures of social realities.

      ” The conservative position, which is based on cultural determinism, gratuitously racialises corruption, falsely homogenising western governments. For example, consider therelatively clean record of public administration in the Netherlands compared with the intractable and squalid scandal of neighbouring Belgium. “

      March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm
    43. Momma Cyndi #

      Dave Harris
      “Now show me ANY democracy ANYWHERE in the world that is not corrupt at EVERY level!! ”

      …. Hate to break it to you but most democracies fire people who are found to be corrupt. They don’t just ‘redeploy’ them somewhere else.

      I also wonder why you think that SA is not the most perfect place in the world and deserving of the best in the world. Instead, you seem to believe that we should aspire to achieving the lowest common denominator. This is country has the best people in the world and it deserves better

      March 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm
    44. Camp Quatro #

      The current Cry Wolf racism is a hangover from liberation movement mentality. There is an enemy out there!!!! Support us or face the consequences.

      George W Bush was no different; “You are either with us or with the terrorists”.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm
    45. Excellent piece, Mike.
      I had a chance meeting with an important person (I guess) in Dubai a few months back. He consulted to the ‘newly elected, democratic’ government in the 90s and he told me an interesting tale. According to him, he advised the government not to to make wholesale changes to departmental staff in the various government departments. He then looked out over the Arabian Gulf and said “…and when we came back two years later everyone was black”.
      What he meant was that whole departments had changed from being white to being black and then one has to wonder how so many people became so proficient in running government departments in such a short time.
      The answer is obvious: it is not possible. And the result is self-evident.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

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