AfriForum: Black pain is not a currency for political gamesmanship

The accident in which President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane collided with a minibus taxi, killing a passenger, is the result of a transport system created by Apartheid’s excesses. AfriForum should know that before using this tragedy as political currency, writes YONELA DIKO

In a 2011 paper, Robin DiAngelo, a professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University, described a phenomenon she called ‘white fragility’. “White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves”.

One of the first signs of this white racial fragility, at least according to Janelle Bouie, is a sudden feeling that there is reverse racism and white people need to organise against it and push back.

The rise of AfriForum, a highly funded white interest group that is highly misguided, is most definitely a result of this white fragility, a foolish paranoia that somehow Afrikaners are in danger. Bouie sees this as a lamentation of a loss of pre-eminence position white people use to have and their feeling that such pre-eminence needs to be restored and or defended.

The crusade by AfriForum and the trade union Solidarity must, therefore, be seen for exactly what it is. An attempt by some Afrikaners to restore the racial hierarchy upended by the African National Congress and the people of South Africa in 1994.

The sudden interest in the death of taxi passenger Phumzile Dube by AfriForum through its private prosecution arm is yet another attempt to wrestle with black presidential power using black pain in order to restore some lost white pre-eminence.

AfriForum is, of course, blind to the fact that it is in fact historically the cause of the conditions that led to this accident and the use of a black family to challenge black power only opens old wounds about our country’s contradictions as a result of the fathers of AfriForum and the old embezzlement that sustains it.

Here is the story of South Africa in the last 23 years that is unreachable to the cognitively challenged AfriForum cabal. The collision of black progress and black poverty in our urban centres is a painful reality of post-Apartheid South Africa.

The old brutalities and indignities of a black life, the condemnation to a life in the homelands, the whipping for passes, the breaking of families for political ends, the denial of good education, slave wages, denial of homeownership in urban centres; life for a majority of black South Africans is still defined and condemned by this past.

The collision of an expensive car owned by a young black man against a 15-seater minibus taxi in the buzz of the city captures perfectly the world of lost dreams and gained opportunities that exist hand in hand as part of our reality post-apartheid.

In a case study entitled ‘minibus taxis in South Africa’, Jane Barrett articulates the story of minibusses that fill our roads as follows. ‘The kombi taxi in South Africa has a history that is closely linked to the history of apartheid. … Apartheid spatial planning impacted directly on the public transport provided by buses and trains. Public transport became increasingly expensive for commuters (and also for the State to provide the subsidies required).

A minibus on our roads and its black driver and owner is not by a natural allocation of resources; it is a direct product of policies and actions of people who are now funding AfriForum and their forefathers. Getting into an accident against a minibus taxi is like getting into an accident with an unlicensed car or driver. In an Apartheid-free world, it was not supposed to be on the road.

For AfriForum to create a brutal reality for us, a reality of death traps that are Kombis, a reality of poor and desperate families, and then to come and use it to settle scores of lost Apartheid treasures against a sitting black president is perfidious and treacherous.

AfriForum itself is a product of decades of a divided country and an ability to stoke white racial resentment from an audience that has always been tentative about their place in the new democracy. The taking over of black people in government meant an end to a false white superiority which gave destruction and decay to black people whilst trying to maintain some status in the eyes of the very same black people.

According to Arrive Alive, ‘’the minibus taxi industry emerged in the wake of the apartheid government’s policy of economic deregulation, initiated in 1987. From the early 1980s onwards, taxi operators began using larger ‘kombi’ minibusses that could carry up to 15 passengers. Until formal deregulation in 1987, such taxis were illegal’’.

The Saturday Star of August 2014, said that ‘’every month 1 200 South Africans are killed on the road, a shocking statistic when compared with other countries. South Africa ranks second on the continent, behind Nigeria, for road fatalities, and is four times higher than our home country, Italy’’. It continues to say that taxis account for three times more fatalities than cars (27 compared to nine deaths per 10 000 vehicles respectively). Of course, the reason is that each taxi carried an average of 15 passengers. There are today over 150 000 taxis on the road.

The chances of Duduzane Zuma’s or any other car driver hitting a minibus are close to 30% and the chances that such an accident will cause death are even higher even if we accommodate driver recklessness and the usual taxi fanfare on the road from both drivers.

Many activists have made a clarion call for our taxi industry to be prioritised both in terms of regulation and in terms of a possibility of phasing this mode of transport out. This, however, is a multi-billion rand industry that has sustained black entrepreneurship and financial independence for four decades. Until the journey of the progress of black people is complete, we are unlikely to see neither the end of this industry nor the end of multiple deaths per accident. All accidents, therefore, must be seen within this light and reality, whether it’s a President’s son or by Gerrie Nel.

The existence of AfriForum and their crass and crude old Afrikaner-driven goals, instead of making us see possible injustice against a black family who lost a loved one in a minibus taxi accident, only serves to remind us that every single ugly contrast that defines this our motherland is as a result of the AfriForum ancestry and their thirst for black blood and Afrikaner dominance.

In 2017, they will not succeed.

Diko is a media strategist and consultant

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