Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 10 January 2016

Dear Penny Sparrow and others

As a human being, and the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, I’m angry. Recently you called me a monkey, in your argument you said that there were some blacks you could tolerate, but those at the beach that day who littered, were monkeys. This angers me.

I’m angry because you failed to see that inequality in South Africa is still on the basis of race. I’m angry because you failed to recognise that it is this inequality that meant when I sometimes sit in business class, the people I sit next to are generally white. I’m angry because when I go shopping at certain shops white people are shopping and black people are working. I’m angry because after the release of the matric results, it was mainly black schools where pass rates were low, and that inequality persists.

I’m angry because when I go to some work places its leadership is not diverse so it ends up being that racism is experienced in the work place. I’m angry because you gave the ANC a pathetic election strategy, you taught that them they can mask their failures, and just call everyone and anything racist. I’m angry because so many now feel that the best way to fight racism is more racism.

So what then? I can choose to remain angry or make some decisions. The decisions before me are such that the DA should terminate your membership which it has. But that does not change you or the so many others who want genocide to be the order of the day. I want you to know my anger and I want you to join the project that is South Africa, a reconciled nation.

I know that we are better together – black and white. I know that competence or incompetence, corruption or good governance are not features of a genetic code given to a race, but rather occur across all human beings, all races. So in my view we now do not have a “black government” versus a “white government”. We don’t have political parties for one race or another. We must strive to have a united South African government and South African political parties.

Our project, in case you thought otherwise, is to build a non-racial organisation. A party for all South Africans. Our party is to create a movement of people from different races who are committed to Nelson Mandela’s dream, and are bound by the values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity.

Freedom gives you the right to say what you want to say, and I’m not going to curtail that, but thought it be helpful for you to know how it made me feel. Fairness says society is not fair, or JUST. It still favours some at the expense of so many. That some cannot gain access to university, and so many cannot find work. I want you to know that the building of a fair society is not the pursuit of one race against another; it is indeed a project for all – black, white, Indian and coloured members of the DA. We believe that it is wrong for the child who lives in the Eastern Cape, who littered at “your” beach, receives an inferior education to the child from a more affluent area. I want you to know that we say “not in our name” should anyone practice racism in the workplace or in any other context. We commit ourselves to ensuring that we build a fair society.

I will not stay angry with you forever because I recognise that you may or may not change. South Africa does not benefit from racist attitudes like yours, but benefits when we reaffirm the project of reconciliation, and building a nation that is united in its diversity.

Apartheid was a racist and evil system, which we must collectively work towards addressing its legacy, which still haunts us today, especially in so far as access to economic and academic opportunities are concerned. In order to build a better tomorrow, we need to address past injustices and their legacy. My work is anchored in building one nation with one future. DM


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