OPINION: Some white people like Max Du Preez don't live in the real South Africa
Today, in 2019, South Africa still remains the most unequal nation in the whole world along racial lines, all thanks to apartheid. A fact that some white people like Max du Preez don't seem to fully comprehend.
The recent World Bank report exposed the ugly truth about the country. It pointed to the fact that we haven't made any meaningful progress at all as a country in terms of addressing inequality and wealth distribution. Sadly, we have regressed. The report found the top 1% of South Africans own 70.9% of the country's wealth while the bottom 60% only control 7% of the country's assets.
This troubling picture shows two worlds: one in which the black majority are condemned to unemployment and poverty, and another world where the white minority are living comfortably with the economy tight in their hands. This is what is partly responsible for the growing black anger in our country, something which the privileged Du Preez doesn't seem to appreciate.
Du Preez recently penned an opinion piece titled: "When will we be released from the burden of racism?" (January 2, 2019) which was published on News24. It would appear that what compelled him to write the piece was being made to wait a "full" two minutes before he could get service from a black cashier at a shop in the Western Cape. Another customer apparently accused poor him of being arrogant and racist.
Du Preez wrote: "…I approached her and politely asked if she would mind paying for her wine so the cashier could serve me – I was parked on a yellow line, I explained."
In the same piece, he jumps into the Clifton Beach debate, refuting claims of racism and saying he doesn't understand why black people were angry. He continued, writing: "When private security guards told visitors to vacate Clifton Beach last week, a lot of people reacted very angrily about the perceived racism. At first, I didn't see racism as the obvious problem – it's simply not true that black people have been kept away from that beach in the last few years…I saw the problem as class discrimination."
There is no excuse for poor service, which seems to be what Du Preez had experienced in the shop. However, what baffles me is the complete lack of understanding regarding the source of black anger in this country. The problem is that some white people don't seem to appreciate that black people experience incidents of racism almost daily. And that black people are angry because the apartheid legacy still shackles them in poverty, unemployment, bad education, lack of access to good facilities and opportunities etc.
Du Preez doesn't seem to understand why black people were angry when - unprovoked - Penny Sparrow called them monkeys while bathing at the beach. He doesn't get it when the likes of estate agent Vicki Momberg and businessman Adam Catzavelos consistently and arrogantly call black people "kaffirs". Du Preez doesn't get why young black people are angry at the systematic racism that keeps them out of the mainstream economy and excludes them from walking freely at Clifton Beach.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently hit the nail on the head regarding racism, when in a radio interview he warned white South Africans, mainly with the power in their hands, that they must realise that young black people are becoming increasingly angry about their "lackadaisical" attitude.
I challenge Du Preez to emulate some of the outstanding white South Africans like George Bizos, Ronnie Kasrils, the late anti-apartheid stalwarts Joe Slovo and Ruth First and many others, in dismantling racism instead of seeking to "be released from the burden of racism".
- Vuyolwethu Zungula is the president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).
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