Bad to Worse in South Africa
In February 2019, I wrote that South Africa’s government would make “apartheid denial” a crime. It’s not technically illegal yet, but South Africa’s president likens it to treason: “[A]partheid was so immoral in its conception and so devastating in its execution that there is no South African living who is not touched by its legacy,” said South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. “I would even go to say that to deny this, in my view, is treasonous.”
Treason to what? To “nonracialism,” which President Ramaphosa says, “is a fundamental and immutable principle that defines the character of our democratic nation.” He has an odd conception of “nonracialism.” South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment policy (BEE) discriminates actively against whites. Mr. Ramaphosa chaired a commission that started the practice. Even the leftist The Nation reports that he used race preferences shamelessly to line his own pockets.
According to South African law, the people who get systematic preferences under BEE are “African, Coloured, or Indian persons,” so Indians get race preferences, too. It is common to point out that South African Indians benefited from apartheid. Some South Africans think there is still “Indian privilege.” The Indian Gupta family became rich and powerful through political connections and bribery. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) head Julius Malema says Indians in Natal treat [black] Africans worse than Afrikaners do.
When he lived in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi didn’t care about the rights of blacks. He said that the “British race should be the dominant race.” His objection was that the British “dragged [Indians] down to the position of a raw Kaffir.” Needless to say, Gandhi is not much of a hero in South Africa.
Some mixed-race “Couloured” people think BEE favors blacks and leaves them out, to the point that the Solidarity labor union complained recently that the government’s obsession with “racial mathematics” and superficial diversity has brought the economy “to a virtual standstill if it is not outright receding.”
If this is “nonracialism,” what does racialism look like?
What prompted this talk about apartheid and treason? Julius Malema of the EFF demanded it. On February 2, former South African president FW de Klerk said “the idea that apartheid was a crime against humanity was and remains an agitprop project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatize white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity.” Later, he apologized, but Mr. Malema said that wasn’t good enough and wants to take away Mr. de Klerk’s Nobel Prize.
The EFF has been demanding this for years. Mr. de Klerk won the Nobel Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, but today he’s just another white “racist.” Just weeks ago, President Ramaphosa told blacks not to thank Mr. de Klerk for ending apartheid, but to credit “pressure and the struggle that our people waged.”
Why did Mr. de Klerk hand the country over to the ANC? Ilana Mercer recently wrote a devastating column about Mr. de Klerk’s “Great Betrayal of South Africa.” Many white South Africans supported negotiations, she wrote, but they didn’t want “to be legislated into a permanent position of political subordination.”
Afrikaners’ “conservative” leaders, especially General Constand Viljeon, decided democratic elections in a black majority country were better than secession and creating a Volkstaat, or Afrikaner homeland. Miss Mercer writes: “As the democratic South Africa amply demonstrates, political rights and a paper constitution don’t secure the natural rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.” The situation is so bad that even National Review published an article called “The End of South Africa” in 2015, which supported an independent city-state for Afrikaners.
A recent survey found most South Africans — including blacks — don’t trust the government and aren’t satisfied with its performance on jobs, crime, and the economy. They are also worried about cuts in electricity and water. The Human Services Research Council, which did the research, concluded that “it appears that South Africans do not believe that the government can adequately navigate the country under the weight of the present socio-economic challenges.”
The African National Congress still won re-election in 2019. The ANC is more moderate than the EFF, but the two have certain things in common. Just a few days ago, EFF and ANC parliamentarians were trading accusations about beating women.
The “historically white” Democratic Alliance is the main opposition to the ANC. Interim leader John Steenhuisen said on Sunday that the ANC has failed to improve the lives of black South Africans. If the alliance is to accomplish anything it must attract more black voters. It probably can’t.
Meanwhile, South Africa is crumbling, and when egalitarianism fails, its believers need scapegoats. The Afrikaner-only town of Orania is booming, but a month ago, Rebecca Davis of the Daily Maverick called it “a shameless challenge to the rainbow nation project” and a “festering boil on the face of social cohesion; a grotesque suggestion that the country’s racial rifts can never truly be sewn together.” Last summer, an EFF parliamentarian advocated “relocating” landless people to “whites-only places” like Orania.
In May 2019, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule called for an “unstoppable” struggle for “economic emancipation.” “We can no longer be slaves in our own nation,” he said. He said the “control of the resources of our country is still primarily in the hands of white people, who are the descendants of colonists who stole our wealth and land in the first place.” This is after 25 years of ANC rule.
Last month, the ANC announced that the executive branch, not the courts, would decide whether land owners would be compensated if their property were seized. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said expropriating without compensation (EWC) would ruin the South African economy. In response, President Ramaphosa said an upcoming bill wouldn’t undermine property rights, but simply “broaden the property rights of all South Africans.” He argued it was the failure to change “patterns of land ownership in this country” that hurts the economy.
Many whites are being murdered. Western nations mostly reject white South Africans who claim “refugee” status. In this context, it’s chilling that South African leaders are blaming white property owners for the country’s economic troubles, especially when Mr. Ramaphosa is considered a “pro-business moderate.”
“Power can only be resisted by power,” said John Calhoun. Mr. de Klerk deceived white South Africans and gave away his constituents’ power, but the current South African president essentially called Mr. de Klerk a traitor to the very regime he enabled. President Ramaphosa doesn’t need to appease powerless relics like F.W. de Klerk who prattle about constitutional niceties. Mr. Ramaphosa worries more about Julius Malema, who acts as if he’s above the law and commands a powerful movement.
The lesson for whites is that you can’t secure protection by surrendering power. Constitutions, promises, hopes, and wishes are no substitute for numbers, money, and sovereignty. Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation” was a transition phase in black state conquest of South Africa. That phase is approaching for our entire civilization. We can’t afford another South Africa.