A read a day keeps the ignorance at bay
21 February 2017 22:58 (South Africa)
Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

Dear Dianne Kohler Barnard, let's talk frankly ...

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
    OnkgeposteBW
    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE [2008], Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.

Racism and a bizarre nostalgia for days gone by are standing in the way of South Africa achieving social cohesion. Of course while many may have residual racism, some people have made little or no effort to rid themselves of naked prejudice and make peace with the loss of privilege. I think last week Dianne Kohler Barnard joined that bandwagon.

The holy bible says a slip of the tongue can be worse than a slip of the pavement. You stuffed up so badly and this is what the holy book meant. You should know that one of the most difficult things to conceal is prejudice. The whole country now knows the meaning of your grin. and frankly that is worse than the slip of a pavement.

One of the crucial issues facing our society is the question of social cohesion. Standing in its way is the horrible persistence of racism and the bizarre nostalgia for days gone by. Of course while many may have residual racism, some people have made little or no effort to rid themselves of naked prejudice and make peace with the loss of privilege. I think this week you joined that bandwagon. You have told us in no uncertain terms exactly what you have been thinking since 1994. It is funny if not tragic that Helen Zille, she of refugee-labelling fame, rushed to comfort you and congratulate you for apologising for what you are really about. Before she could condemn you for what should be crime number one in a party that wants to paint itself in the colours of the rainbow nation. She should have been the first to tell you how misguided you were instead of rushing to cover up this shameful episode. I find that silly more than anything else. But it makes me understand why it was truly time for Zille to make way for a new leadership. After all, this was the person who tried to recruit a token black in Mamphela Ramphele and when she discovered that she is no domestic she threw her toys out of the cot and destroyed the one initiative that could have given people the impression that the Democratic Alliance (DA) was finally jumping out of the laager. But I digress.

I know that many of your DA people will be calling you with messages of support after the Twitter torrent comes upon you for letting your slip show. Those who do so and want you to feel better have no interest in a renewed DA at heart. Not that I care. But we are seeing too many of these slip-ups from the DA to the point that they can no longer be considered to be mere slip- ups anymore. Unless we are in denial it is clear that the DA seems to be harbouring people with too much prejudice. People who think their mind-set of days gone by can still be somewhat accommodated. People who seem to have swallowed the food of the new South Africa with a gravy of reluctance. And now that reluctance is escaping like human gas, undetected. Look no one could have guessed that Allister Sparks would venerate Hendrik Verwoerd at your recent congress. But the condemnation of his racist theatrics was so mild that your so-called slip-up this week did not come as a surprise to many. You are one of the most vocal people in the DA, despite having pretended to be an independent civil servant for years, but I have no record of you having said anything to condemn the veneration of Verwoerd on your holy platform. Mmusi Maimane was quite mild himself, giving the impression that he is going to tolerate the narrative that the DA has a lot of racists in its midst. I know you didn't mean to revive this whole narrative about the DA missing apartheid but you did. I am sure no DA meeting sits and plots how to return PW Botha but that is hardly the point, in politics perceptions are reality.

And so let's talk frankly ...

While the current government has its many faults, must your hatred for it blind you so much as to call for the death penalty? Must your hatred for it make you call for cross-border raids? Must your prejudice against it make you call for death squads.? Must our racism make us forget how many people were killed just for being black? Oh, that is exactly what PW Botha achieved in case you don't make the connection. Can calling for such backwardness really be considered a slip-up? I am not trying to do you down at all … I am merely asking whether it is time we had a frank talk about whether there is a part of you that truly thinks it would have been better to continue with the policies of PW BOTHA rather than be subjected to the 'barbarism' of the current guys? Let's be frank … some of the things this government does may be so pedestrian as to make you miss the peace you may have had, knowing you don't have to be ruled by uneducated people, etc. Is this not what your nostalgia for the past is really about? Should we not have a frank conversation about whether people like you are merely tolerating the black leadership of the country but frankly wish them away? Which will make us wonder aloud how you are surviving under the Maimane regime. Or do you just see Maimane as a necessary evil to keep doing your evil deeds under the cover of darkness while the country believes that by electing a new black leader your party is actually changing?

I am not one for condemning anyone for being sorry. Your apology is actually accepted. But if your friend said you are a bit fat and then said sorry the next minute I am sure you would still ask her what she meant because in a heartbeat she would have told you exactly what she thinks of your shape. I feel you have said to me that you don't care that so many people were killed by PW Botha and I am expected to ignore it because you have said sorry. Unless of course you want to feed me liberal dialectics that I must find something good to venerate in PW Botha?

You have got to be kidding me.

Nelson Mandela really dealt us a blow by asking us to ignore the attitude of the likes of you, for black people to magnanimously forget the horrible past your ancestors dealt us and look to you as possible partners in rebuilding the ruin apartheid left us with. Let me tell you something quite frankly ... You have embarrassed all South Africans, black and white. If I were you I would step down and save the party the trauma of ventillating this scandal further in the disciplinary processes. But we don't have that culture in this country you need to be a Pallo Jordan to fall on your sword.

Now I wish your party good luck convincing people its not a wolf in sheep's clothing

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

DM

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
    OnkgeposteBW
    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE [2008], Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.

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