Opinionista Thembeni Nxangisa 24 October 2019

An open letter to Herman Mashaba in response to his attacks on the ANC

While we are still in the first phase of our transformation, we encourage you, Mr Mashaba, before criticising the ANC, to take stock of the progress that has been made since we inherited a corrupted, bankrupt and sectarian apartheid regime.

Dear Mr Mashaba,

I have noted your resignation both as the executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg and as a member of the Democratic Alliance (DA), the racist, liberal party of white supremacists. While we welcome your resignation, we would like to remind you that we have always warned you, together with other black members of the DA, about the true character of the DA.

It is my strong view that the DA is nothing but a modern-day National Party, whose nostalgia for apartheid and colonialism stands between the progressive forces and the attainment of a united, democratic, non-sexist, non-racial and prosperous South Africa. Even though it took you long, we are happy that you have finally woken up to the reality of the DA, and what it really stands for.

When you announced your resignation, you stated, among other things: “The election of Helen Zille is a victory for people who stand diametrically against my belief systems.” You allege, correctly so, that Zille represents an unfortunate, right-wing, racist section of South African society.

Let me remind you, when you joined the DA, Helen Zille was still a member of the DA. She did not join the DA during the past weekend when she was elected chairperson of the federal council, and you, Mr Mashaba, were aware of this reality.

In fact, you have always argued that Zille is not a racist. In March this year, you posted the following on social media: “In all the years I have known Helen Zille, anyone calling her a racist is actually a racist herself/himself.” In your mind, did Zille, who was not a racist, change into one in less than seven months?

In January this year, you penned a letter where you apologised to the people of South Africa for voting for the ANC in 1994 and 1999. In the above open letter, you allege the ANC achieved nothing but a “criminal network”. While I respect your stance, I must state, however, that your statement is not only a distortion, but is toxic to the young and coming generations.

The ANC not only participated in the process of negotiations towards democracy, but played a monumental role in the development of the Constitution. Our Constitution is not only recognised for its ability to integrate civil and political rights, but also for encapsulating socio-economic and cultural rights. Ours is a progressive Constitution, thanks to the ANC.

Given our colonial and apartheid past, many South Africans from previously disadvantaged communities remain largely poor. In South Africa, Africans, women and people in rural areas are the most vulnerable to poverty. The ANC government has, however, provided a safety net for the poor and vulnerable individuals and households, from which 17-million South Africans, black and white, are currently benefiting.

According to the Report; 25-Year Review of the Service Delivery Performance of the Democratic Government of South Africa, developed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, South Africa has attained a “near-universal access to basic education for young children aged 7-14 years of age”. Access to higher education and training, including through TVET colleges, by black students, has expanded significantly over the 25-year period.

These developments are a clear reversal of the apartheid, Bantu Education legacy of the DA’s forebears, and are in line with the ANC’s Freedom Charter which stated, among others; “the doors of learning and culture shall be opened”.

In an attempt to redress the imbalances of our past, the ANC introduced policy and legal instruments such as affirmative action, broad-based black economic empowerment, and others. The DA, which you joined voluntarily, has always been opposed to these progressive policies. As a demonstration of the successes of these policies, we have seen a significant growth of the black middle class, which increased from about two million in 1993, to six million currently. I am more than convinced that you, as a black person, have been touched by these policies in your life, Mr Mashaba.

Contrary to popular propaganda, household access to basic services has increased phenomenally since 1994. According to Statistics SA’s General Household Survey (2018), access to basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal increased significantly in all parts of South Africa. Today, 84% of all South African households have access to electricity.

The ANC was founded in 1912 to unite the people of South Africa and totally obliterate the political and economic oppression of one group by another. While we are still in the first phase of our transformation, we encourage you, Mr Mashaba, before criticising us, to take stock of the progress that has been made since we inherited a corrupted, bankrupt and sectarian apartheid regime.

We still have a long way to go as we prepare to enter into a second, more radical phase of the Struggle. We call on all people of South Africa to join us as we continue to build a National Democratic Society, a society where there will be no exploitation between groups. DM

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