ON A RECENT cover of the UK’s influential “Spectator” magazine screamed “The End of South Africa”. The story, penned by SA writer Rian Malan, discusses several valid concerns which include the tempestuous ANC succession struggle, government maladministration and the attempted powergrab of the Cape Town council. Also raised was Zuma’s increasing power and the potentially grievous consequences of this amoral, uneducated and politically fickle man becoming president.
Malan’s diatribe, however, displays an uninformed and defeatist approach to South Africa’s political quagmire – the dynamics of which he can only see through the prism of racial polarisation. He believes that until very recently only “white malcontents” have criticised the government. That is grossly untrue: there have been many vociferous black critics – not least the president’s brother, the academic Moeletsi Mbeki.
Malan states that as Tony Leon is white he is “therefore irrelevant”. “Whites are finished,” he claims with fatalistic abandon. On whites emigrating he declares: “those who remain know their place.”
To adapt Eleanor Roosevelt’s words: “No one can make you irrelevant without your consent.” The whites like Malan who just complain bitterly about their marginalisation should instead be fighting for their rights as equal citizens. I do not advocate a return to apartheid – a system which was evil, period. South African citizens of every race, however, have a responsibility to participate in our incipient democracy and to hold government to account for its failures and transgressions.
SA survived colonisation and apartheid. It will overcome the new dispensation’s teething problems as long as political will and integrity is at work.
Rian Malan has presented a subjective and racially skewed picture of South Africa to the world, erroneously writing its future off. Gripe and moan, Mr Malan. It’s your right. But what exactly are you doing about it?