Johannesburg - South Africa has not achieved its goal of a non-racial society, 22 years after the birth of its democracy, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday.
“I’m certain that none of us will contest the conclusion that the progress we have made in this regard has not been as speedy and thorough-going as the situation demands.”
This was why he supported the National Development Plan’s statement that race should continue to be given the greatest weight in defining historical disadvantage for at least the next decade, he said.
He was speaking at the SA Human Rights Commission’s 20th anniversary celebration conference in Midrand, being held under the theme “human rights and racism”.
He said the country’s current racial climate was similar to what he experienced during both his terms as president.
Over the years, in the public discourse, less and less mention was made about the country’s racist legacy. Its eradication was central to efforts to create a non-racial society, as envisaged in the Constitution.
The lack of discussion about the reality of racism in South Africa had resulted in comments by the likes of Penny Sparrow. The KwaZulu-Natal estate agent’s comments on Facebook in January about black beachgoers being monkeys illustrated the subjective racism some still harboured.
However, he had seen worse. During his State of the Nation Address in 2000, he quoted comments written by an engineer, which a trade union member brought to his attention. “The engineer wrote and I quote: ‘I would like to summarise what the kaffirs have done to stuff up this country since they came into power. If a white buys a house, he pays transfer duties. If a kaffir buys a house, he is free of duties because he was previously disadvantaged.”More than 20% of the GDP is embezzled by the kaffir politicians and corrupt civil servants. The unemployment insurance fund and state pension funds have been embezzled.”Our girlfriends and wives are in constant threat of being brutally raped by some Aids infested kaffir or gang of kaffirs. Everyday someone you know is either robbed, hijacked or murdered.”Half these black bastards have bought their drivers licences from corrupt traffic cops and all I’m saying is that Aids is not working fast enough,'” Mbeki said.He recalled that during a debate in the National Assembly in 1998, he said government had to be honest and admit it had not yet achieved its constitutional ideal of a non-racial and reconciliatory society.During the debate he described South Africa as a “society of two nations” where the white minority nation was “fairly prosperous” while the majority black nation was mostly poor, with limited access to the economy, education and better physical living conditions.On Tuesday morning, he said South Africa needed a new form of patriotism and a common national agenda. The state needed stronger legal methods to deal with racism and school curriculums should inculcate the values of non-racism.Government and the private sector should lead by example and show society what a non-racial and non-sexist society should be, he said.
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