Molebatsi Masedi is a Polokwane, Limpopo based proponent of radical socio-economic transformation. Tweeter: @MolebatsiMasedi
That apartheid was a crime against humanity is beyond doubt, the contrary view of the AfriForum CEO Kalie Kriel notwithstanding. As far back as 1976, the United Nations Organisation pronounced apartheid as a crime against humanity. The civilised world had lost patience with the apartheid regime and its vicious reign of terror against black people.
During apartheid, land theft happened on a grand scale. Blacks were removed from their arable and fertile lands, and dumped where neither livestock and plants nor people could live and thrive. At the end of this land grabbing by the apartheid regime, black people were driven to homelands which had become labour reserves for mines and commercial white farms.
To compound the problems of black people who had been forced into abject poverty, the apartheid government introduced all forms of restrictive and discriminatory measures to contain native restlessness, movement and access to white settlements.
Good things like education, health and jobs were the preserve of white people. Black people lived off the crumbs from the white master’s table. The education of the black child was not meant to open an abundance of opportunities. What came to be known as Bantu education was meant to reduce black people into what apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd called “hewers of wood and drawers of water.
As revealed during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission sittings a lot of evil was inflicted on black people in the name of law and order. People were detained, tortured and even killed with impunity. There was no justice for the oppressed and exploited that were predominantly black.
The slaughter of the innocent by the apartheid regime went on for years until the dawn of freedom and democracy which saw the ANC under Nelson Mandela assume the reigns of governance after the first ever democratic elections. It was at this time that Archbishop Desmond Tutu pronounced the people of South Africa as the Rainbow Nation of God.
Transition from apartheid to freedom and democracy was compared to a miracle. No blood was shed and the economy remained intact, though for the benefit of a small section of society. The whole process was peaceful. Many in the world had expected the country to go up in smoke before freedom could be attained. South Africa would rise from the ashes of protracted conflict during which lives would be lost and the economy destroyed.
Mandela’s term of office was premised on peace reconciliation between black and white peoples. In 1995, he even dropped in for tea and koeksisters at the home of, Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of apartheid architect in the separatist town of Orania where there are no blacks.
The last apartheid president, F.W De Klerk and his lieutenants were accommodated in the government of national unity. Today De Klerk continues to walk freely in the country, enjoying his hefty pension money. He is free from want, like many of the historically advantaged.
What happened post-apartheid was that white people retained their ill-gotten wealth and stolen land. The lives of black people of poverty, inequality and unemployment remain undented. The willing seller and willing buyer land restitution programme has done nothing to restore the dignity and identity of black people. Without their land, black people remain beggars and vagrants in their country. The white minority continue to coin it from the economy they are still in charge of.
The ANC during its twenty-four years in government has done nothing to implement its agenda of Radical Economic Transformation. What the party has achieved after the fall of the apartheid regime was mouth radical slogans with no accompanying action.
Empty slogans have never liberated a country or delivered on Radical Economic Transformation.
People have looked hopelessly at the government momentous failure to reverse the setbacks of years of institutionalised marginalisation of black people. They have watched helplessly the deferment of the dream of a better life for all.
Detractors of freedom and its attendant radical transformation agenda have found the courage to speak and act against attempts to open the economy for all South Africans, black or white.
It is against this open rebellion against freedom and democracy that you have an exclusively white homestead like Orania where black people are not allowed. It boggles the mind why the owners of that part of the country haven’t claimed every square kilometre of Orania and took it over. As things stand, Orania is a country within a country which has reversed the clock and reinstated apartheid.
One other apartheid Trojan horse is the DA, the party of white monopoly capital that wants white people to maintain their positions. Black people who have passed their sell-by date like Lindiwe Mazibuko and today Patricia De Lille are spat out at the slightest provocation. Analysts even predict that the last white hope, Mmusi Maimane is living on borrowed time.
Earlier in the week Maimane expressed outrage at the treatment of former springbok rugby player, Ashwin Willemse, describing it as an experience of too many South Africans. He called on the country to build an equal society, “where we confine to history a system of racial superiority and inferiority. We must continue to pursue a diverse SA, however difficult it is.”
Profound and courageous statements from Maimane, only if he meant them, but then he doesn’t. It is just empty rhetoric to appease those who remain abused by the abundantly prevalent apartheid tendencies like those visited on Willemse.
Kriel’s apartheid denialism is not shocking, new or isolated. There are still many with apartheid hang-ups who saw nothing wrong with apartheid atrocities. For them apartheid terror was all in the day’s work. Some even say that apartheid was good for black people than the freedom and democracy they have today.
For as long we have the likes of Kriel roaming our streets, freedom and democracy will ring hollow as it has no content to fill it and calm its rattling noise.
For as long as black people don’t have access to and ownership of land and other sectors of the economy, people such as Kriel will spit at them. He is the monster the negotiated political settlement compromises created. Only radical economic transformation can restore the identity and dignity of black people.
As for Kriel, one commentator over the weekend said, to say that apartheid was not a crime against humanity is itself a crime. Those held liable for the extermination of Jews during the Second World War faced the music during Nuremberg trials and beyond. In fact the Nazis are still hunted to this day and nobody makes light of the holocaust.
The holocaust is a crime against humanity and those who practiced it have been subjected to retribution. Apartheid was declared a crime against humanity, but no one, not De Klerk and others who presided over its atrocities have been prosecuted. They walk around free, hence Kriel spitting at victims of apartheid and their traumatised families.
Unless the land and other sectors of the economy are restored to the owners, black people will continue to bear the brunt of insults. and belittling of their suffering by Kriel and his many fellow travellers.
Not yet Uhuru.