Powder Keg

I don’t normally do political opinion pieces but recent events in South Africa have prompted an exception. My wife and in-laws are black South Africans so my visits there are not as touristy as those of many European visitors. I like to believe that gives me a bit more knowledge of the country. Probably the same level of knowledge that an Urdu speaker from Lahore would gain about Britain from visiting relatives in Bradford.

Eugene Terre’Blanche was yesterday’s man and I doubt that there was a political motive to his murder. Given the way some of the more reactionary white landowners treat their black workers, the account claiming that he was murdered for withholding wages sounds all too plausible.

That being said, the fact that the leader of the AWB has been murdered will have political ramifications. Politically, the AWB was a spent force but its remnants will use the circumstances of Terre’Blanche’s death to scare up support from white farmers already fearful of their black labour force. There has also been talk of ‘reprisals’ which I take to mean the random killing of blacks.

Enter Julius Malema – leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and wannabe President of South Africa. When I was last in South Africa (in December and January) there was a major war of words between him and the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (CoSaTu), particularly with the former. Both organisations are junior partners in the tri-partite alliance that rules South Africa. I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that if the alliance fell apart, the ANC proper would retain most of the votes. But two power blocs opposing him would be gone.

He is also antagonistic to Helen Zille, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance. That would not be surprising except that he expresses it in crude allegations that she slept with Western Cape cabinet members. I am not sure whether his problem with Zille is that she’s white, a woman or both.

More insight into his thinking can be gained from the fact that he is fond of publicly singing an apartheid era song that includes the refrain “Kill the Boer” and that he has recently been a guest of Robert Mugabe and has expressed admiration for his policies. I am beginning to think that Malema is a supporter of the “whites out” style of African nationalism advocated by the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). My experience is that black South Africans are not enamoured of this kind of racism and the low electoral support for PAC suggests that this is generally true nationally.

This might change if a few white extremists start randomly killing blacks, particularly amongst the township poor who have yet to see much benefit from the end of apartheid. While in such circumstances the PAC might well see its vote share increase, the ANC political machine would be in a much better position to capitalise on the situation – if it were led by an anti-white racist. In which case it would be Good-bye Rainbow Nation and Hello Zimbabwe #2.

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