EXCLUSIVE: Demands mount to prosecute racists
Analysts interviewed by CAJ News Africa were unanimous in that call after weeks of racial controversy emanating mostly from some white members of the community.
Infamously, a Durban woman likened blacks to baboons while an economist with a leading local bank was fired for racist comments.
Recent events, analysts said, suggests reconciliation that ushered in a new government in 1994 had not been genuine, hence the need to adopt measures to contain racism.
“The law needs brutal change! We need revolutionary transformation of institutions. It starts by being unapologetic about our Africanness and our humanity,” Shumba says.
He raises concern at the prevalence of racism arguing lack of punitive measures is fuelling the problem.
“We owe it to posterity to punish offenders to prevent recurrence. Arrogant racist South Africans have no place in today South Africa. There are the people that make Robert Mugabe look like an angel. We should craft hate laws to send them to jail for years,” Shumba advocates.
Shumba argues blacks have turned the other cheek for long.
“The Penny Sparrows of South Africa see forgiveness as weakness. They benefit from African largesse and abuse it. They drink our water and spit in our faces. They need our forgiveness but let us not forget: they also need to be punished,” Shumba says.
Born in Zimbabwe, where he was tortured, Shumba has also been a victim of xenophobia.
“I have experience xenophobia! I have lived racism, trust me, they are both ugly. As ugly as their Penny Sparrows,” Shumba says.
National Spokesman for South African Communist Party (SACP), Alex Mashilo, bemoans the prevalence of racism despite the reconciliation, the foundation upon which a new South Africa was built.
He notes racism under the internationally –condemned apartheid system, was used as an instrument of economic exploitation resulting in the advancement or betterment of its beneficiaries while the victims were disadvantaged and under-developed.
“For so long as racial inequality continues and its economic structure remains intact, it will be difficult to claim that both transformation and the reconciliation project have been completed,” Mashilo says.
“Racism must be a robustly punishable criminal offence. School curriculum must include anti-racism content, and content to build a truly non-racial society.
“Transformation must move at a decisive pace. Racism was not born in South Africa. It was forcefully imported from Europe through colonisation and racist economic exploitation and intensified under apartheid,” adds Mashilo.
He says racism also manifests itself in the workplace where transformation has moved at snail’s pace more than 21 years after the end of apartheid.
“My study is not yet complete but what has emerged from my sample of the workers I have surveyed is that the apartheid workplace continues,” says Mashilo.
He says the workplace is characterised by a pyramid structure where top managers and owners are predominantly white.
“As a result, the bottom rungs of the workplace are still predominantly or exclusively black. The income structure is such that whites, occupying higher positions, are better paid and have better benefits while black workers, being at the bottom rungs, are subject to meagre wages and benefits.
“Unfortunately, these workers at the bottom rungs of the employment structure are the ones most attacked by so-called experts and some political parties especially of the privileged when they demand improvements,” Mashilo adds.
He also notes the divisions along party lines.
“Politically, the black-white divide continues. The apartheid settlement patterns have not fundamentally altered. The election outcomes are consistent with that map,” says Mashilo.
In an exclusive interview, University of Pretoria political analyst, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, says racism is only a tip of the iceberg of a fragmented society.
He argues forgiveness should not only be between white and blacks.
“Forgiveness should also include males and females, black and black and white and white. Above all, this should include every human being,” he says.
“Firstly, if we talk about reconciliation, we must reconcile with ourselves before taking it elsewhere! Has Winnie Madikizela-Mandela been forgiven? If not, why not? Then, we must also make sure we talk about employer and employee forgiving each other because that’s where there is another very serious issue that requires attention,” says Maluleke.
“Apartheid-based racism is still alive. At the top are white males followed by white males, white women, Indians, coloureds while down the ladder of racism you find blacks. This is the setup even at work places where you find white people at the top, followed by Afrikaaners, Indians, Coloureds with blacks at the bottom of the ladder,” says Maluleke.
He accused the current political leadership of “not having clue” of what should be done to resolve racism.
“The leadership that is required right now is the one bold enough to disrupt the current racial set-up in order to make a new beginning,” says the analyst.
“To ruthlessly deal with racism firstly people need to rid themselves of fawning over these self-ordained emperors of Africa,” he adds.
– CAJ News
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