Monday, 27 March 2017

Maimane's not so Big Moment

I am amazed, but not particularly surprised, that the Helen Zille tweet row has carried on for as long as it has, and that so few sensible voices have been prominent in the debate. I've had many thoughts on the issue since my post last week. These are a few.

First off, Zille needs berating for her own foolishness, not because what she said was wrong, but because someone with her experience in both politics and journalism should have foreseen the reaction to her tweets. She knows better than most how the racial propaganda war works in South Africa and has been a victim of it enough to have anticipated her moral lynching.

Zille's moment of naivety, however, by no means justifies the manufactured outrage from those who think only in terms of black and white. The dominant argument remains that Zille defended colonialism and thereby offended millions of South Africans who suffered because of it. It's even gotten to the point where the Black First Land First movement has decided to lay racism charges against her. I believe I sufficiently established the ridiculousness of these claims in my last article, but in case you were still in doubt I will further elaborate.

The now infamous tweet series started with a reference to how Singapore achieved major development by building off what the colonists left behind. The whole idea was how South Africa could emulate that, so the argument was never racial nor a defense of colonialism from the start, but merely about how to achieve development. One should not be surprised, however, at the racialist vultures who were hovering, waiting for any misrepresentable statement to cry racist over. Contrary to one popular argument, Zille did not say that there were good aspects of colonialism. She said that there were good aspects to the legacy of colonialism i.e. what we are left with because of colonialism. One can perfectly reasonably call colonialism abhorrent and evil and simultaneously suggest that there are consequences of colonialism that we can exploit to improve the lives of the people.

To sum it up in one question, Do you believe running water is a good thing, that written language is a good thing, democracy, electricity, modern travel? If yes, then you agree with Mrs Zille. The ANC agrees with her, the EFF, even Black First Land First agree with her. In fact, the ANC's own idea of the Developmental State is the same principle Zille was arguing.

Now, significantly, Zille's tweets are supposedly sufficient reason for her to be axed as premier of the Western Cape. We've already established why this is not the case, but let us try to convince Mmusi Maimane of this too. Apparently this is Maimane's chance to step out of Zille's shadow and show that he is the true leader of the DA by beheading his mentor and predecessor. Of course, this is a tempting opportunity, but it would cost him his integrity. Hopefully Mmusi will not fall into the trap baited by his enemies. So for many it is a question of whether Mmusi Maimane will man up and show that he is the true leader of the DA or stay in the shadow of Zille, but really the question is whether he will give up his integrity for cheap political points.

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