Defend Truth


On the Indian Question in South Africa: A response to mob psychologists


Dali Mpofu is EFF National Chairperson.

The current discourse on the Indian question in South Africa has largely been defined by intellectual and historical dishonesty, laziness and misguided vitriol by those to whom the relevant privileges will be annulled if the matter is honestly confronted.

Many commentators laced with dishonesty and laziness wrote short, medium and long perspectives on the Indian question, and achieved nothing because most never made sense, and chose to sacrifice objectivity on the altar of mob psychology, herd mentality. Now is the time to set the record straight without the eggshell walking antics that define the South African gullible lot, those who believe that 1994 represented a dawn of a rainbow nation. The debate is certainly defined by mob psychology by different sectors of quasi-intellectuals, and of course dominated by South Africans who rushed in to defend kin and kith. The truth remains that the demon of ethnic superiority and privilege, like the demons of racism, tribalism and sexism, must be confronted head on if it is ever to be eliminated.

This perspective is not a sub-text, so will not tip toe around historical and present facts of race relations in South Africa. Different commentators and their choristers, inclusive of Adam Habib, Ferial Haffajee, Ranjeni Munusamy, Ashwin Desai, Ebhrahim Harvey, Imraan Buccus, Carol Paton, Ebrahim Fakir, Yunus Carrim, Justice Malala, Eusebius McKaiser, Nomboniso Gasa, JJ Tabane, and a whole mob of psychologists rushed in where angels would fear to tread and altogether distorted what should be a necessary discourse on race relations in South Africa.

These commentators collectively used different media platforms to insult, undermine and even intimidate the leadership of the EFF on our correct observation that more often than not, South Africans of Indian descent think of indigenous Africans as less human and less capable, i.e. racist. Such attitudes can be traced to what we all refer to as “the legacy of apartheid”, which everybody pretends to fight against except when it affects them directly.

This mob used different platforms inclusive of radio, newspaper, and social media platform to hurl insults with a clear attempt to silence an otherwise very important debate about the Indian question and race relations in South Africa. The many insults and labels directed at leadership of the EFF included labels such as chauvinists, racists, fascists, thieves, thugs who have nothing to offer but their corruption, and under dealings which will soon be exposed.

With no evidence, a narrative was drawn by this mob that our correct and decisive raising of the Indian question was due to the fact that we are afraid of SARS, and corruption allegations, which clearly exist in the figments of their individual and collective imaginations. In the realm of the mob, an African child cannot criticise overly dominant minorities unless they are running away from corruption or some sort of wrongdoing.

Instead of responding to these mob psychologists one by one, we combine a cogent and fearless response to all of them in order to expose their collective intellectual dishonesty and mediocrity of thought process. They individually and collectively hold a right to differ with the leadership of the EFF, in as much as we hold the right to differ with them.

Our decisive disagreement with these is in no way an attempt to suppress their views and opinions. Every South African has a right to express their opinions and we in the EFF will protect even those who disagree with us to do so openly. A temptation arises to bark back and refer to the mob as individually and collectively stupid, intellectually challenged, and protecting narrow interests, but we will not do so because as leadership we carry a higher obligation to educate and enlighten society.

In our corrective intervention, we will basically deal with six basic themes:

  1. The EFF has invented the Indian question because Jacob Zuma is gone and we are afraid of “Ramaphoria”.

  2. The EFF is a racist political organisation in its articulation of race relations in South Africa.

  3. The EFF is isolating Indians in South Africa and should be condemned.

  4. The affirmation of Africans in particular amounts to racism.

  5. The EFF will divide South Africa along racial lines by exposing the racial divisions.

  6. The EFF is incorrect in stating that the majority of Indians are racist.

These are the main issues which when dealt with properly will expose the mob psychologists as nothing but an intellectually lazy and dishonest whole, which does not pay detailed attention to South Africa’s otherwise complex race relations. Let us dispel the negative narratives and myths spread by the quasi- intellectual hypocrites and charlatans:

Myth 1:

The Indian question is an invention of the Ramaphosa era by the EFF

The primary driver of this laughable proposition is Eusebius McKaiser. It will shock him to realise, sooner than later, that Ramaphosa is a paper tiger created by the media and a much less formidable opponent than Zuma. He is a gift to us. He will be even more shocked to realise that a little desktop research would have shown him that this matter is raised in our inception document and was re-raised at our 4th anniversary rally in Durban in 2017, when Ramaphosa was still cosying up to Zuma, his partner in crime.

It must be stated that in addressing the national question in South Africa, we are not abandoning the primacy of class as a primary contradiction. As a Marxist-Leninist organisation, we appreciate and understand that class is the primary contradiction, yet the EFF’s 2013 Founding Manifesto obliges us to deal with the national question. On the question under the discussion, the EFF Founding Manifesto says:

The Indian/Asian working class is largely constituted of peasant traders who own small shops and medium shops and enterprises. Their oppression and exploitation is relatively not at the same level as the oppression and exploitation of the African and coloured working class in South Africa. The question of their inclusion on the affirmative action and empowerment legislations is one that needs thorough reflection and consideration with the view of establishing whether as a group, the Indian population should continue to be classified as a historically disadvantaged population and group”.

Statistically, the extent of economic exclusion and unemployment among the Indian population is far lower than that of the African and coloured population. There should be conscious mobilisation of the Indian/Asian working class in the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime, which will guarantee this important sector of South Africa access to opportunities and constituencies that they should interact with for sustainable trade”

Emphatically, the EFF Founding Manifesto says,

Due to their location in society and history, the African working class constitute the core of those Economic Freedom Fighters seek to emancipate from economic subjugation and oppression. The African working class suffered and continues to suffer excessive levels of oppression and exploitation as mineworkers, farmworkers, underpaid domestic workers, petrol attendants, private security guards, and constitute the large pool of reserve labourers as they are of those unemployed. Unemployment among the African working class is biggest as compared to other components of the working class.

It therefore becomes the primary role of the EFF to organise the both the unemployed and employed working class, those who do not own the means of production, into mainstream political and class organisation of the Economic Freedom Fighters. In this context, the African working class constitute the core of the motive forces (forces that drive revolutionary motion) for radical change, because they stand to benefit from the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime.”

We cite the EFF Founding Manifesto verbatim because, evidently, none of the mob psychologists mentioned above have ever read the EFF Founding Manifesto and it is only now that they will know that as far back as 2013, the EFF dealt with the Indian question in exactly the same way we are dealing with it now.

To them, the issues we raise are momentary issues, induced by some imaginary fear of SARS, not located in clear ideological lenses, and should just be dismissed through emotive tweets and tautological articles in newspapers and blogs. The EFF’s political and ideological telescope is one of the most dynamic and superior forms of insight, one which sees the future. This explains why, even in the face of insults, threats and mob psychology, we stand firm on principle, and take time to enlighten society on the national question. The EFF will never sacrifice principle on the altar of political convenience.

Myth 2:

The EFF is a racist political organisation in its articulation of race relations in South Africa

In basic dictionary definition, racism is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”. Simplified, racism is exercised by those who believe that their race is superior and should therefore not be mixed with inferior races. Under capitalism, racism is used as an instrument of class oppression wherein those who believe that they are racially superior exploit the labour of those they classify as racially inferior. In social circles, racism is used as an instrument of exclusion wherein better spaces, amenities and residential spaces are reserved for those who believe they are racially superior to the exclusion of those who are classified as racially inferior.

Colonialism and apartheid institutionalised racist exclusion and oppression and went to the extent of enacting racist laws. As if that was not enough, colonialism and apartheid physically removed Africans from different areas and created Bantustans for indigenous Africans as reserves of cheap and easily disposable labour. Indigenous Africans were coerced into the lowest echelons of South Africa’s racial hierarchy and anyone who denies this is dishonest.

It should be stated importantly that what reproduces racism is economic subjugation, wherein indigenous Africans play less significant roles in the production, distribution and consumption of economic goods and services. Almost always, indigenous Africans are at the service of other races as domestic workers, security guards, farmers, and many other lesser roles while their racial counterparts are managers and owners of the means of production. Unless economic inequalities are decidedly dealt with through equal distribution of wealth and economic resources, racism will persist in the same manner designed under slavery, colonialism and apartheid.

Racism is an instrument of power, and of course in a world and society that had institutionalised racism through slavery and colonialism, even poorer whites and poorer Indians would hold racist prejudices and superiority complex over Africans because that is how slavery, colonialism and capitalism defined the discourse. The historical collective economic subjugation of Africans as hewers of wood, and drawers of water reproduces racism even when Africans are not literally hewing wood and drawing water. This explains why 24 years post 1994, there is still wage differentiation in SA based on race, wherein Africans, even at professional level are paid less than their white and Indian counterparts.

The EFF always calls out racist practices, such as administrators who undermine Africans who in government and isolate them to insignificant roles and responsibilities. The questioning of Ismail Momoniat, the over domineering deputy director-general in the National Treasury was never a racist attack on him and can never be, it was a caution that his actions and overindulgence in National Treasury work bordered on racist belittling of those who otherwise could play the same role. That Momoniat was in National Treasury since 1995 means absolutely nothing, because institutions of such magnitude should mould and produce other people, and those who overstay should voluntarily make way for others.

It is therefore not a racist act to call out racism. It is also not racism to legitimately call for representation of indigenous Africans in serious responsibilities, because apartheid prevented them from occupying such positions. Those who imagine that calling out on Momoniat was a racist act are conceptually confused and ideologically misdirected. Whoever continues to believe that calling out racism is equal to being racist needs intensive psychological observation. It is also mob censure to insult, intimidate and throw all sorts of labels and allegations against those who call out racism. If we were cowards, we would have kept quiet, and future generations would be afraid to point our racism because a mob will throw insults and declare them persona non-grata.

Furthermore, the EFF has a fundamental ideological problem with the manner in which National Treasury was configured and pursued transformation of the financial services sector post 1995. Momoniat is among the neo-liberals, whose policy disposition only served to prevent black participation in mainstream economic ownership and control. Momoniat is a reactionary functionary who does not accept that state procurement should be progressively used to facilitate economic inclusion of those closed out by apartheid, despite the ruling party’s commitments to use procurement as a mechanism for economic inclusion.

Ideologically, Momoniat is associated with those who watered down the Reconstruction and Development Programme into a neo-liberal growth first programme, with some hollow expectation that there will be trickle-down benefits. The neo-liberal character, nature and form of National Treasury and its failure to lead a decisive transformation programme is solidified by the archaic bureaucrats, who refuse even superior heterodox rewriting of economic history and development. So, our objection to Momoniat is fundamentally an ideological objection, which additionally accepts that he marginalised Africans in the process of determining and shaping policy for inclusive growth and collective development.

Myth 3:

The EFF is isolating Indians in South Africa and should be condemned.

It is a historical fact that Indians arrived in the political territory we call South Africa today as indentured labourers from 1860 onwards. This automatically disqualifies them as indigenous South Africans in the same way whites, who had arrived earlier than the indentured labourers are not indigenous Africans. This explains why South Africans of Indian origin categorise themselves as Indians, an anomaly of populations of one country referring to themselves through the name of the country of their origin. This of course is a global phenomenon, wherein Africans in the diaspora, who have never been to Africa refer to themselves as Africans, and the same applies to Europeans and Chinese in different parts of the world.

Indians were brought to South Africa during the indigenous Africans Wars of resistance, and there is no record that they fought on the side of Africans. On the contrary, prominent Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi recognised and worshipped the colonial empire and spread ideological and political gibberish that “whites and Indians were bonded by an Aryan bloodline that had no place for the African” as empirically proved in the book The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire by Desai & Vahed, 2015. The intellectual honesty that defined these two authors while writing about Gandhi’s racism escaped one of them in the immediate aftermath of calling out the Momoniat racism.

Under colonial and apartheid South Africa, the Indian community was never isolated nor marginalised by Africans, they isolated themselves and bargained for a space above that of the indigenous Africans. The Indian community largely sought to assimilate into the racial dominance of white minorities to the exclusion of the African majority. In their resistance to white oppression, the Indian community historically sought to be treated like the white dominators of the economy, political and social life.

The January 1949 physical conflict between Indians and Africans in Durban is largely reported to have been a result of a shopkeeper who assaulted an African boy, and in expression of common anger among Africans, the riots and conflicts began. While historical distortions claim that this was Africans’ attack on Indians, reality is more Africans lost lives than all other races, and still got blamed for the so called Durban “riots”. The tensions were certainly fuelled by the fact that then, the African majority were economically subjugated and super-exploited by the Indian community, whom as argued here, always believed that they were superior to Africans. There certainly exists a superiority complex among many Indians in South Africa, and this has explainable historical roots.

To validate this, one does not need to go further than Gandhi, the celebrated doyen of Indian liberation in South Africa and India. Gandhi stayed in South Africa between 1893 and 1914. Despite the many hagiographies written about his outstanding contribution in the struggle against apartheid, the essence of Gandhi’s struggle in South Africa was primarily for the exclusive protection of the Indian community in South Africa. Gandhi’s loyalty was not to total liberation of all Africans of different descents, it was for the protection and liberation of Indians, and it must be said, to the exclusion of Africans, whom he recurrently referred to as Kaffirs, raw Kaffirs, Natives.

To understand Gandhi’s ideological leadership and guidance of the struggles of the Indian community in South Africa, you need to read a book written by two South African professors of Indian origin, Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed (2015), and of course Desai is part of the denialist mob. The key essence of the book is summarised in an article published in the Washington Post in September 2015. The apt summary of Gandhi’s views include, but are not limited to the following;

  1. One of the first battles Gandhi fought after coming to South Africa was over the separate entrances for whites and blacks at the Durban post office. Gandhi objected that Indians were “classed with the natives of South Africa,” who he called the kaffirs, and demanded a separate entrance for Indians.

We felt the indignity too much and … petitioned the authorities to do away with the invidious distinction, and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics and Europeans.”

  1. In a petition letter in 1895, Gandhi also expressed concern that a lower legal standing for Indians would result in degenerating “so much so that from their civilised habits, they would be degraded to the habits of the aboriginal Natives, and a generation hence, between the progeny of the Indians and the Natives, there will be very little difference in habits, and customs and thought.”

  2. In an open letter to the Natal Parliament in 1893, Gandhi wrote: “I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan. … A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”

  3. At a speech in Mumbai in 1896, Gandhi said that the Europeans in Natal wished “to degrade us to the level of the raw kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”

  4. Protesting the decision of Johannesburg municipal authorities to allow Africans to live alongside Indians, Gandhi wrote in 1904 that the council “must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.”

  5. In response to the White League’s agitation against Indian immigration and the proposed importation of Chinese labour, Gandhi wrote in 1903: “We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.”

  6. Gandhi wrote in 1908 about his prison experience: “We were marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs. There, our garments were stamped with the letter “N”, which meant that we were being classed with the Natives. We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too much to put up with.”

  7. In 1939, Gandhi justified his counsel to the Indian community in South Africa against forming a non-European front: “I have no doubt about the soundness of my advice. However much one may sympathise with the Bantus, Indians cannot make common cause with them.”

The current generation of Economic Freedom Fighters will of course ask why Gandhi is celebrated in post-apartheid South Africa, despite the fact that he was an anti-African racist. The answer perhaps will come from the fact that 24 years post-apartheid, South Africa still hosts statues of apartheid murderers and rapists who colonially and forcefully took indigenous Africans’ land without compensation. Gandhi is not a hero for Africans, but certainly a hero for those who associated with the organisation he founded, the South African Indian Congress.

Perhaps these patently anti-African racism of Gandhi is what defined all South Africans of Indian descent participation in the Struggle, hence they organisationally created Indian Congresses as weapons to fight for emancipation. Notably, the many celebrated comrades who classified themselves as Indian were not members of the African National Congress, but of the Indian Congresses, whose founding father is an anti-African and patently racist Mahatma Gandhi. Anyone who argues that the ANC and the Indian Congresses were the same organisation is dishonest.

Of course, credit should be given to the Doctors pact, which somewhere brought collaboration in the struggle against apartheid and collaborated with the African National Congress under Dr AB Xuma’s presidency, but the separate identity of the Indian Congresses existed. The Indian Congresses existed until Codesa and until the Transitional Executive Council (TEC). The TEC was an interim government, and Pravin Gordhan was a co-chairman of the TEC representing the Indian Congress and not the ANC. Those who belonged to the Indian Congresses categorised themselves as Indians and continue to do so today, it is not the EFF that categorised them as Indians but Indians themselves.

The mob of commentators also accuses us of exempting wrongdoings by Africans by “targeting” Indians. That means they have not lived in South Africa for the past five years or listened to daily pronouncements and actions of the EFF aimed at wrongdoings by Africans, ranging from corruption , mass murder to ordinary crime and violence against women and many other excesses committed mainly by African males. To be sure, the biggest culprits in the daily crimes against our people are African males. One only has to visit any prison to attest to that fact. But no serious commentator would ascribe these excesses to “racism” or a related Gandhian-style superiority complex, which is the issue currently on the table.

We will continue to speak out, loudly and fearlessly, against any social excesses perpetrated against all South Africans. There is no white, Indian, coloured or African exemption to that rule!

Myth 4:

The affirmation of Africans in particular amounts to racism

The affirmation of the African leadership in liberation politics has its roots in the founding generation of the Congress Youth League in 1994. Those who understand history correctly will admit that the generation that founded the Congress Youth League is one of the most outstanding generations that proclaimed Freedom in Our Lifetime and fought tireless for freedom in their lifetime. This generation includes, in order of ideological clarity and consistency, luminaries such as Anton Lembede, Robert Sobukwe, AP Mda, Joshua Nkomo, Congress Mbatha, Dilizintaba Mji, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, and Nelson Mandela.

On African leadership Lembede said:

the African people have been told time and again that they are babies, that they are an inferior race, that they cannot achieve anything worthwhile by themselves or without a white man as their “trustee” or “leader.” This insidious suggestion has poisoned their minds and has resulted in a pathological state of mind. Consequently the African has lost or is losing the sterling qualities of self-respect, self-confidence and self-reliance. Even in the political world, it is being suggested that Africans cannot organise themselves or make any progress without white “leaders.” Now I stand for the revolt against this psychological enslavement of my people. I strive for the eradication of this “Ja-Baas” mentality, which for centuries has been systematically and subtly implanted into the minds of the Africans”.

On African leadership, Sobukwe said:

The Africans constitute the indigenous group and form the majority of the population. They are the most ruthlessly exploited and are subjected to humiliation, degradation and insult. Now it is our contention that true democracy can be established in South Africa and on the continent as a whole, only when white supremacy has been destroyed. And the illiterate and semi-literate African masses constitute the key and centre and content of any struggle for true democracy in South Africa. And the African people can be organised only under the banner of African nationalism in an All-African organisation where they will by themselves formulate policies and programmes and decide on the methods of struggle without interference from either so-called left-wing or right-wing groups of the minorities who arrogantly appropriate to themselves the right to plan and think for the African”

The EFF’s Founding Manifesto is somewhat contextually more cogent than even Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, first president of the ANC Youth League, a leader of a generation that proclaimed Freedom in Our Lifetime. Lembede’s view of South Africans of Indian descent was that they were “merchants who fought only for their rights to trade and extract as much wealth as possible from Africa”. Lembede made this statement due to lived experience, with his father having worked for South Africans of Indian descent, and he attending schools classified as Indian schools under colonial government.

The 1948 ANC Youth League Basic Policy statement, which drew inspiration from revolutionary luminaries such as Nkomo, Sobukwe, Tambo, Mda, Sisulu, Mandela and many others in their undiluted and unedited revolutionary consciousness said, “Although, like the Africans, the Indians are oppressed as a group, yet they differ from the Africans in their historical and cultural background among other things. They have their mother-country, India, but thousands of them made South Africa and Africa their home. They, however, did not come as conquerors and exploiters, but as the exploited. As long as they do not undermine or impede out liberation struggle we should not regard them as intruders or enemies”. On African leadership, this generation emphatically said that they hold a view that “the Africans are nationally oppressed, and that they can win their national freedom through a National Liberation Movement led by the Africans themselves”. This marked the qualified acceptance by Mandela and others of Indian participation in the struggle “as long as they do not impede our liberation struggle”.

The affirmation of African leadership is therefore not some racist invention of the Economic Freedom Fighters, it has historically been affirmed, more importantly by a generation that proclaimed Freedom in Our Lifetime. A generation of Freedom Fighters, whom the EFF draws inspiration from, hence the name Economic Freedom Fighters and the clarion call of Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime. The affirmation of African leadership is also not an invention of apartheid racial categorisation, it is a product of African nationalism, whose programme demanded in the 1948 basic policy statement, “equitable and proportionate re-division of the land and abandoning of European dominance” as a basic position of African nationalism.

In various articulations, the ANC emphasised the centrality of African leadership, and this is evidenced by the fact that it was only in 1985, at its historic Kabwe Conference, that the ANC accepted non-Africans as part of its leadership collective. This was only five years before the unbanning of the ANC and only the 73rd year of the ANC’s existence! Before that, even much loved revolutionaries like Joe Slovo could not be members of the ANC National Executive Committee. Was this “racism”?

So to affirm African leadership in the post-colonial setting is not a sell-out position or a departure from our struggle. It is an appreciation that Africans should not be left in the margins. When he was president of the erstwhile ANC Youth League, the EFF Commander in Chief raised the question of minorities’ dominance of the economic cluster in the ANC. Then, the question was why is it that all important economic positions and responsibilities in the state are reserved for minorities. Under Ramaphosa, the situation has worsened and the tail has captured the dog.

In this instance, it is important to draw a distinction between the Lembede- and Sobukwe-inspired affirmation of African leadership with the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). Despite the fact that Black Consciousness emerged out of practical and real marginalisation of Africans in Nusas, it emerges that Steve Biko’s definition of black did not relate to nativity, but to black consciousness and solidarity.

Contrary to popular belief, this quest for solidarity among the voteless was no invention of Biko’s. It was first encapsulated in the Freedom Charter in 1955, when it was declared that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”, without making any distinctions among the “blacks”. Elsewhere, however, the charter refers to “national groups”, a clear reference to Africans, coloureds, Indians and whites, who were separately represented in Kliptown.

The deliberate and tactical blurring of ethnic, class and even gender distinction during the struggle for political freedom in an effort to create solidarity among the voteless, hence the “two-stage theory” which was accepted by the South African Communist Party, cannot be blindly transported into the current phase of the struggle for economic freedom. Such distinctions and their associated economic privilege now need closer examination, scrutiny and analysis if we have any hope of ever eliminating the associated and corresponding historical inequality created by colonialism and apartheid, the so-called legacy of apartheid. To pretend that these historical fault lines do not exist is the sole preserve of fools and denialists. The EFF is neither. The EFF exists to change and not to preserve the status quo in which Africans, and African women in particular, are at the bottom of the social pile.

It is 24 years since the end of institutionalised apartheid, and Africans should rise to the occasion and take charge of economic institutions and the economy itself. The time of tip-toeing around white domination and African exclusion must come to an end. The Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment laws were enacted for redress purposes, and it is evident now that black people are not equally oppressed and excluded. Priority has to be given to Africans in particular in the course of economic liberation.

Myth 5:

The EFF will divide South Africa along racial lines by exposing the racial divisions

The EFF will not divide but will unite South Africa and the broader African continent through economic freedom. It is only economic equality that will unite SA. Land equality, education equality and employment equity will unite. The total attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime will unite South Africans because we will all have equal access to key economic resources. The attainment of economic freedom is in and by itself a uniting project because what primarily divides South Africa are economic inequalities. Africans continue to be providers of cheap and easily disposable labour, while the others employ and treat them like slaves.

South Africa is divided by massive economic disparities and this is perfectly illustrated in the developmental indicators. While 55% of South Africans live in poverty, it is the 64.2% majority of Africans who face extreme levels of poverty and only 5.9% of Indians are said to be living in poverty. It is also the case with unemployment, whereby 41% of African are unemployed while only 18.2% of Indians are unemployed. According to the Living Conditions of Households in South Africa Survey 2014/15 (published: 2017), white South Africans still have the highest salaries and incomes, with the average white South African income being five times higher than the average black South Africans income, followed by Indians who earn three times higher than average African income.

The divide is further entrenched by inequality in terms of access to quality education by race, with 93% of the population of 20 years and older with no basic education African compared to only 0.2% of Indians, 0.9% of whites and 5% of coloureds. In terms of population of 20 years and older with Grade 10 as the highest qualification, Africans make up 77% of the 3.9 million compared to 2.1% of Indians, 9% of whites and 11% of coloureds. South Africa is divided along racial lines because access to quality education is racially skewed to Indians and whites at the expense of Africans, which leads to increasing the racial advantage of whites who use education and other social capital to entrench these divisions.

Even though Indians and whites make up the smallest sections of the population, combined they own and control more land, deciding on the racial and apartheid spatial planning. It is one thing to expose and reflect on already existing racial divisions, and it is another to divide a country that is already racially divided. All the EFF has done since its formation in 2013 is to expose these societal contradictions. It is not possible to further divide such a deeply divided country, but we can only move towards eradicating such inequality by honest and frank engagements.

Myth 6:

The EFF is incorrect in stating that majority of Indians are racist. It is the truth

As illustrated in the proper conceptualisation of racism above, it is primarily an instrument for economic subjugation and expressed though prejudices and intolerance. When the black majority was supposed to collectively bring about an end to apartheid and bring a new dawn under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela, the majority of Indians voted for the Nationalist Party, a political instrument of apartheid under FW de Klerk. Like Mahatma Gandhi, the majority of Indians in South Africa were illustrating that they rather live under apartheid exclusion and racism than be led by a raw Kaffir.

In recurrent elections, the Indian population in South Africa predominantly votes for themselves or for white political parties, whose aims and programme is protection of white privileges and interests or the status quo created by apartheid. There is no better explanation to give to this other than the fact that Indians believe that their interests are tied to continued white privilege to the exclusion of the black majority and Africans in particular. This is actually understandable given that, to the previously favoured, equality with Africans means losing their artificial and racist privileges.

There are many instances of reported anti-African racism from the Indian community in the stores, workplaces, homes, schools, which do not get reported on. Those who are recipients of Indian racism are often of subjugate economic standing and as stated in the perspective here, economic subjugation of the African majority is the root cause of anti-African racism from both white and Indian communities.

To argue, as he mob does, that truth-telling will divide the nation is the same as saying the “unity” of the nation must be built on lies. We cannot be party to such an arrangement. No wound has ever been healed by virtue of being ignored and simply wished away. Sometimes swallowing a bitter pill is the only way out. As the Bible says, sometimes “only the truth shall set you free”.

Finally, the mob asks plaintively where the EFF gets the “proof” or “evidence” that Indians still suffer from Gandhian superiority complex and disdain for the “kaffirs”. Such a foolish question is understandable from the university drop-outs and other innocent members of the mob, but when one considers that the mob includes university professors and even a vice-chancellor, the self-serving subjectivity and wilful blindness assumes alarming proportions. Even a first-year student would tell them to visit the IEC website or call credible research agencies like IPSOS to obtain voting statistics in any predominantly Indian voting station anywhere in South Africa.

If they do this simple exercise, it will reveal that since 1994, Indians have communicated very loudly that they would prefer to have as president the likes of Tony Leon and Helen Zille than “kaffirs” like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, to borrow from the language of Mahatma Gandhi. No guess is required to distil this fact. Even prominent members of the mob should be able to work this one out! If this is not proof enough, then they should agree to participate with the EFF in a joint survey of the views of domestic workers in any Indian area and hear the horror stories reported to us on a daily basis. This will surely stop the pretentious search for “evidence”.

On a lighter note, is it not amusing that the EFF president is labelled a racist for stating that the majority (ie 51%) of Indians are racist but former Constitutional Court Judge Zac Yacoob is not a racist, to the mob at least, for stating that a whopping 90% of Indians are racist in his estimation! This makes it clear that it is the mob which is racist in dishing out its selective chorus of condemnation.


Amilcar Cabral called upon us to “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories …” If telling this truth will lose us votes from the Indian community or whichever community, so be it because we are not going to canvass for votes through sacrificing truth and principle on the altar of political convenience.

Revolutionaries always have an obligation to speak the truth, even when such truth is not comfortable for powers that be. We represent a generation of fearlessness and clear ideological and political discussion. We are not and will not be cowed by those who substitute political discussions with insults, threats and labels. Those mentioned and those touched have every right to respond to the perspective on the Indian question in South Africa. DM


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