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Since 1929 — ‘swart gevaar’ the lethal secret sauce few white voters can resist

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Nick Dall has an MA in Creative Writing from UCT. As a journalist covering everything from cricket to chameleons, his favourite stories are always those about people — dead or alive, virtuous or villainous. He is the co-author with Matthew Blackman of ‘Legends: People Who Changed South Africa for the Better’ and ‘Rogues Gallery: An Irreverent History of Corruption in South Africa’ (both Penguin Random House).

‘Swart gevaar’ (black peril) has been in the news a lot recently. But where does the term come from? And how can it still be alive and kicking?

In case you’ve been residing under a rock (for which I wouldn’t blame you), here’s a recap. Earlier this month John Steenhuisen lashed out at four smaller parties (the Patriotic Alliance, Rise Mzansi, Good and the National Coloured Congress) for having the audacity to contest the elections in the Western Cape. He called them “political mercenaries” and accused them of wanting to “line their own pockets.”

“Why are they coming to the Western Cape?” asked Steenhuisen. “If they get that right, it’s gonna be the biggest bank heist you’ve ever seen.”

The leaders of these smaller parties took umbrage at being labelled terrorists for wanting to exercise democracy. Songezo Zibi, the leader of Rise Mzansi, was particularly incensed.

“John asks, why are they COMING to the Western Cape? Coming? From where?” Zibi told the Cape Town Press Club. “This is the worst kind of swart gevaar! It is illiberal, it is divisive, and it further proof that the DA under Zille and Steenhuisen will never reach the black voters it needs if it is to govern South Africa.”

The swart gevaar election of 1929

Swart gevaar has become synonymous with apartheid. But while researching Spoilt Ballots: The Elections that Shaped South Africa, I discovered that it has a longer and uglier history.

On one level, swart gevaar has been around since 1652. In fact, one of the reasons the Dutch took so long to establish a permanent settlement at the Cape was their fear of what the “savages” might do to them.

As an electioneering tactic, however, swart gevaar is more recent. While 19th-century politicians like Cecil John Rhodes loathed the “natives”, they were also aware that alienating people of colour would cost them votes as the Cape had a colour-blind franchise. (Yes, you read that right: men of all races were always able to vote in Cape elections.) There was an unwritten rule that overt mentioning of race during electioneering would not be done. The trick was to refer to black and coloured people by their outsider economic status rather than their racial origins.

Things started to change with the rise of the National Party under JBM Hertzog from 1914 onwards. But even the arch-racist Hertzog was reluctant to embrace swart gevaar fully: he won the 1924 election thanks in part to the coloured vote.

Five years later, some members of his party — notably Tielman Roos and a young DF Malan — convinced him to change tack. So much so that the 1929 election became known as the “Swart Gevaar Election”.

For all its repulsiveness, it was a highly effective piece of electioneering. As Govan Mbeki concedes in his essay “Rise and Growth of Afrikaner Capital”, swart gevaar “skilfully” united English- and Afrikaans-speaking whites: “Thus a common fear and common hatred were generated against a common enemy — the African … [giving] the Nationalist Afrikaner a free hand to carry on with his allotted mission to put die k***** in sy plek.”

Keith Hancock, Jan Smuts’s biographer writes: “The colour issue was dominant. The Nationalists staked their fortunes on a gigantic campaign to convince the constituencies that white civilisation was in danger. It was in danger, they said, because Smuts stood for niksdoen, for ‘letting the situation develop’, which meant letting white civilisation drift onto the rocks. Worse than that the country was in danger because Smuts stood for gelykstelling, the equality of black and white.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections hub

While addressing voters in Ermelo, Smuts made a massive oepsie when he talked of his dream of a “confederation of African states… a great African Dominion stretching unbroken throughout Africa”.

While Smuts later denied he had used the term “African Dominion”, the Nats didn’t need a second invitation to pile on to Slim Jannie. They disseminated their “Black Manifesto” which implored voters to “Stem vir ’n witmansland” (vote for a white man’s land) and tarred Smuts as “the man who puts himself forward as the apostle of a black K****r state… extending from the Cape to Egypt… And already foretells the day when even the name of South Africa will vanish in smoke upon the altar of the K****r state he so ardently desires”.

“Day after day from January to June”, the pro-Nationalist newspapers owned by Nasionale Pers (most notably Ons Vaderland and Die Burger, which since its founding by none other than DF Malan in 1915 had come under the editorship of Albert “Ysterman” Geyer) claimed that if Smuts got his way, “White South Africa would be drowned in the Black North”.

The newspapers’ cartoonists took to their task with glee. One cartoon depicted South Africa as a tiny white spot on the tail of a black dog, while another showed a Griqua soldier with a white bride on his arm. Arguably the most effective of the bunch was a simple cartoon published in Die Burger a week before the election showing a white farmer staring forlornly at an SAP (South African Party, led by Smuts) election poster that read: “Stem vir die Swart Afrika Party”.

The rise and rise of swart gevaar

Hertzog won the 1929 election easily and swart gevaar was entrenched as a secret sauce that very few white voters could resist. After World War 2, the ex-newspaper editors and apartheid architects DF Malan and Hendrik Verwoerd (check out this charming election poster) took the concept to the next level. For a time in the 1960s and 70s, swart gevaar became so entrenched that the opposition United Party started trying to beat the Nats at their own game.

As Laurence Gandar, editor of the liberal Rand Daily Mail, wrote of the 1966 election, there was something “unreal”, “synthetic and unconvincing” about the debates of the campaign. His paper noted “that the centre of gravity of politics had moved substantially farther to the Right” and made a truly disturbing observation: “The middle ground formerly occupied by the United Party has been largely vacated for there are issues on which the United Party now stands to the Right of the Nationalist.”

Don’t believe me? Try this on for size: De Villiers Graaff, the supposedly liberal leader of the United Party, insisted that the NP, with its Bantustan policy, was the unconscious ally of the communists. He claimed that the Nats were creating “little Cubas” within the sanctity of South Africa’s borders. The UP’s Afrikaans mouthpiece, Ons Land, went as far as claiming that the NP was engaged in “K*****boetie politics”.

Of course, it has always been the trick in times of an election to claim that your opposition is a proxy for a deep and lascivious evil. Steenhuisen’s claim that the other parties are “political mercenaries” who simply want to “line their own pockets” can be filed in the same category as Zibi’s “swart gevaar” jibe. There is some exaggeration at play.

Swart gevaar was effective during apartheid, as only white people could vote. Hertzog, too, could get away with it because voters of colour made up a tiny fraction of the electorate in the 1920s. But the idea that it could still be alive and well in a country where the vast majority of voters stand to be repulsed by it is deeply troubling. DM

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  • Tumelo Tumelo says:

    Thank you for the apt history lesson but I must disagree with the assertion that swaart gevaar is a “lethal secret sauce few white voters can resist”-frankly it’s a sauce drenched in the non-black psyche in this country. In recent history it can be equated to the Lady Macbeth effect: this is so because, for the most part South African non-blacks can’t enjoy the privilege of their position peacefully post 1994 because they consciously and unconsciously know the violence it took to exact it. One is always haunted by the possibility that what you have done to others will be done to you.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      The terribly sad thing about your comment is that our citizens still waste a second on race when there is absolutely no value in it for anyone.

      If I can make a suggestion: our people would to much better to invest our time in focusing on:
      1. law and order; and
      2. service delivery (clean water, electricity, roads, schooling, food, housing)

      And vote for the party that delivers these things.

      The past no-one can change, but we can certainly all work together to improve our collective future.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      A vast number of white voters in the apartheid error are either dead or in their latter years. Where does that leave just about every white person under the age of 50. Why should they be haunted.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Our problems are basic and the DA has already proven to have as good a handle on them as is possible under our criminal government. If one looks honestly at the criticisms people seem to love to level at the DA the vast majority are emotive swipes at Zille and Steenhuisen but very very few attempt to actually take on the DA policies.

    The reason is because the DA policies are non-racial, equitable and in the main grounded and well considered.

    Additional opposition parties can only increase problems for South Africans – more bickering, less focused impact, more cost structures, more king making, more coalition hell, and consequent poor service delivery.

    Given that the above is overtly obvious, back to the question: So, what is the incentive for new parties starting up?

    Well to draw an analogy, in the pyramid scheme called The Aeroplane Game tricky people quickly realised that it was easier to make money starting their own plane than it was to join at the bottom of an existing plane.

    And very likely the same holds for new party creation.

    So I for one am with Steenhuizen.

    • Steve Davidson says:

      Thanks for that, FRN, you summed it up in a nutshell. And as for Zibi, he should try not to punt what I would call the DA gevaar (aka black racist) button. But at least it gave Dall – a ‘creative writer’ whatever that is – something to write about.

      • Bob Dubery says:

        Zibi is only giving as good as he got. The DA poked a hornet’s nest when they decide to play the swart gevaar card of saying that he was going to call for appropriation without compensation, thus chucking him on the same pile as Zuma and Malema. Why on earth should he take that lying down, especially since he’s now being repeatedly asked about it? Why on earth did the DA think they could point that finger and not get one pointed back? All they’ve done is give him free publicity.

        If the DA are worried about the DA then Zibi might be a threat to them. If they’re worried, as they say they are, about SOUTH AFRICA then Zibi is the wrong target. There is no thrown mud sticking to him because he is a decent man and, unlike some of our political leaders, a constitutionalist.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          He may be a wonderful individual but unfortunately his “street creds” aren’t really the issue here. The very fact that his party exists weakens the opposition and dilutes focus desperately needed in order to make effective strides against the corruption we are all drowning in.

          I have said this before and I will say it again:

          We don’t need perfect, we need better. And the DA is better, by a country mile. Proven better. And the DA already has all the national structures in place so, given sufficient support, will have the biggest and fastest positive impact possible for all of us.

          So to all opposition parties who want law and order and service delivery. If you truly put South Africans first, join the DA and help get the basics in play as fast as possible. There is plenty of time for your personal nuances down the line. I have no doubt if they are fair and practical for all they will ultimately be implemented.

          • Roelf Pretorius says:

            Fanie, if the DA were really better, then Steenhuizen would not have drummed up all this racist rhetoric in the first place because his party would have taken disciplinary steps against him. And whatever policies the DA, ANC or whatever party has are meaningless unless the party takes responsibility to execute them. But the most important of all, to give all people a roof over their head, is the one part where the DA has failed the majority of citizens in the Western Cape the most. That is an important part of the reason why Cape Town is the murder capital of the world; because the DA has not been committed to the constitutional goal of fighting poverty. That is why they got rid of De Lille; because she had a commitment to do it. And that is why the DA stands a good chance of losing their majority in the Western Cape; because most of the voters in Cape Town don’t benefit from their policies. Go find out – right accross the world countries where stability reigns are those who see that everyone in the country has a roof over their head. And those who don’t? Look at all the problems the USA has – it relates to the fact that they don’t. Same with the Western Cape. I have huge respect for Geordin Hill-Lewis, but in all fairness, he has only been in position for less than 3 years, and I gather that he does not have unqualified support from his national leaders.

    • William Dryden says:

      Well put into prospective and totally correct, well done Fanie at least you can see beyond the rhetoric from the small parties.

    • TP Mudau says:

      I definitely agree with you. Less democracy is the answer. These small parties should not be allowed to contest at all.

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        You don’t know what you are talking pal. Half of the instability in the metro’s are because of public representatives of the BIGGER parties cross the floor to block the attempts of their own parties to form governments, or to get the governments of their own political parties out. It happened with the DA more than once, and also with ActionSA in the Johannesburg metro, where they are not a small party at all. All the while these new political parties like BOSA, RizeMzansi and others rose because of very thorough debate with a wide audience – and as a result they are coming forward with a lot of new ideas that the bigger parties clearly are not able to generate. So you need to drastically change your attitude towards democracy, before you eventually lose it, and with it all the priviledges that you clearly take for granted. To an extent trying to put the DA onto a pedestal instead of also criticizing them for their failures is the same as promoting MK and the EFF. That is why these two parties are becoming so popular; because many of the non-white voters recognize the “swartgevaar politics” and they won’t stand for it.

    • Anne De Wet says:

      I for ‘two’ join you in that FRN! Smaller parties are dividing the vote and offer little. At least we know that the DA has a good track record and the animosity being shown to John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille is totally out of keeping.

  • O'Train D says:

    Politics are ugly.

  • Stanislaw Hohowsky says:

    The so calked “swart gevaar” is a far cry from Steenhuisen’s statement. You have cleverly ambushed the DA with a twisted narrative, however to your point “swart gevaar” comes in many forms of which like apartheid we now have legislation which protects the majority from the minority. The condition of SOE’s and the abysmal handeling of these entities, our bankrupt economy, defunct military, inept police, failing medical services, abysmal housing crisis, crime rate amongst our political leaders these factors could be construed as a “swart gevaar” your clever use of history to paint “white man bad” race-baiting only serves the agenda of the political elite and the Media.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      The challenge with what John said and what he didn’t say lies with the interpreter, bottom line is it was uncalled for and of no benefit.
      Western Cape is not another country in South Africa, the suspicion of the Orania mentality within the DA is disturbingly showing up in statements and actions, the incorrect assessment that Israel an occupier has a right against people it occupies is an example of the Orania mentality.
      These things are not coming from John Steenhuisen they were embedded in the DA whilst John was an impressive young Mp in the corridors of Parliament.
      All these years I don’t have much to be faulted on him other than issues deeply rooted in the DA.
      Or within certain influential individuals in the DA.
      The DA must not miss the opportunity to play it’s role in getting our democracy back on track, there are parties old and new that are behaving like a pack of wolves out for the kill (treasury) John tried to protect that in the area that he governs, it wise not a very wise move, I guess it goes to his to fix list.

    • TP Mudau says:

      He is not painting anyone bad, but merely stating history. If you feel painted, well… You seem to believe the swart gevaar was somewhat justified by the state the country is and conclude the writer must not race bait. Go figure…

  • Rob Fisher says:

    I am well old enough to remember the “swart gevaar” and the “rooi gevaar” days. And still young enough to fight for a new South Africa.
    Before we all tar all the Afrikaners with the “racist” diatribe, remember that Jannie Smuts was an Afrikaner, a proud one. He showed the rest of the world how to be a statesman. His timing was bad as the 2nd World War caused the old Boer War memories to be stirred up and the hate of the “Engelse” to erupt again. The “soutpiels” living in South Africa caught the brunt of this. I grew up in platteland dorpies where the boer war was a daily occurrence. Riding your bicycle home from school was a risky business. Inter-school rugby was a bitter affair between english and afrikaans schools.
    There have always been “verligte” Afrikaners. I remember Frederik van Zyl Slabbert and plenty of others in the PFP, DP etc.
    There have always been racists, British, English South Africans, Afrikaners and dare we say it “blacks”.
    Time to get on with making what is left of this great country work.

    • Denise Smit says:

      And what do you say about the Anglo Boer War where the Brits killed 30 000 woman and children in the most inhuman way in the concentration camps. But you English are of course always innocent. Be carefull how long you far you want to go into history. And my mother is English , my Grandfather was Scottish , my Grandmother a descendant of Settlers and my Afrikaner half suffered in the war under the English

      • John Smythe says:

        Terrible days indeed. And one can say that about many historical conditions and event. But you seem to fall into the same camp that will always look back and never look forward. He’s saying that it’s time to look forward and make things better. Harping on about the past is less than productive. It’s inhibiting and destructive.

      • Yousuf Vadachia says:

        So you are happy to dredge up the past when you feel wronged but I am sure that if Black people dredge up the past then you would be quick to instruct them to ‘Move on…’ already…

      • Rob Currie says:

        Denise Smit, I’m guessing Rob Fisher is an English South African born after the Anglo Boer War, so is not responsible for what happened during that war. Please don’t refer to English South Africans as “you English” because that is a racist comment.

        • Denise Smit says:

          It is OK for all you English that he regards calling up his childhood (history) of Afrikaners to prove the point of the journalist, but I can not go back a few years ago. Of course it suits you all. What year is the cut off point. Read his feedback again

        • Denise Smit says:

          O please, Dale and the commenter then have also made racists comments about the Afrikaners

        • Denise Smit says:

          England should have been brought to the International Human Rights court for Genocide against Afrikaners long ago

      • Malcolm McManus says:

        Its something we should keep reading about in the history books. In the future it would be nice to read a good story of history about South Africa after 2024.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Jan Smuts is my hero! Where would the RAF be without him! Britain has a lot to thank us for….something they no longer do! Interesting that two of the statues representing famous Statesmen in Parliament Square are South African – Jan Smuts and Nelson Mandela – always makes me proud to be South African when I’m in London and see these two “ brothers”

  • Peter Vos says:

    Nick Dall needs to trade his MA in ‘creeative riting’ for a PhD is destructive writing.

    He uses a race-neutral, entirely accurate, observation by Steenhuizen about the mercenary nature of these upstart parties to launch a diatribe against the DA.

    NOT, you’ll note, against Zibi who resurrected the term and predictably replayed the oh so tired victimhood race card.

    • Denise Smit says:

      Your comment about RM is correct. An agent of? to draw attention off the destructive ANC/EFF rule?

    • Roelf Pretorius says:

      Zibi is one person who never plays the victim or race card, only the DA does. You obviously are not familiar with who he is or you would not have spoken such nonsense about him. And although Steenhuizen may not have spelt the swartgevaar issue out directly, what he communicated did definitely speak to the fears of the Western Cape community. And he is going to pay the price, because most of the voters in the Western Cape is not white and will react negatively to that message.

  • Denise Smit says:

    This is truely malicious creative writing. Mercenary besomes terrorist, then becomes swart gevaar. Then the whole political history of politics becomes your point. This is the same as saying apartheid should be blamed for the failure of the ANC and the destruction of everything in the country. The write and his sponsors are really going at the DA with vengeance. Wonder why? In stead of focussing on the functioning Cape where you are so lucky to be living in. DM do better to not show your underwear

  • Max Ozinsky says:

    “(Yes, you read that right: men of all races were always able to vote in Cape elections.)”

    This is a myth. Only men with a property of a certain value registered in their names were eligible to be on the voters roll. As most black men’s property was not registered they were not able to vote. Also as colonialism meant the theft of land, it by definition excluded those land was taken by the whites. The Cape Parliament was a central institution in the theft of the land passing many laws in this respect.

    The number of black male voters was tiny compared to the number of white male voters, even thought there were far more black men than white men in the colony.

    Also black men were not able to be elected to parliament so this “vote” was largely meaningless.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Start from the uncontrovertible fact that the WC/Cape Town stands out as an island of good governance in a sea of corruption and incompetence, and being the only one governed by the DA, it is fair to say that the DA is responsible for that, and that were it to lose its majority that status would be in danger. Race does not come into either the premise or the conclusion. Then consider that multiple parties that are offering, at best, nothing new except different personalities or, at worst, opportunists whose intent is to lever themselves into self enriching positions, small party gevaar is and rational and should be warned against.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      I can only agree! Have a look at property prices in the WC as a whole and a quick chat with a business broker will tell you that they cannot get enough stock in the WC. Try hiring a trailer to travel from anywhere in the country to the WC and you will realize that there is a lot of traffic going to the WC and not much coming from it. This all speaks to a big semigration to the WC and not just by wealthy people. So one has to conlude that things are better run there and that it is now becoming the place to move to if you want some sort of decent service delivery by a local government. It has nothing to do with the “swart gevaar” and everything to do with finding a decent place to live. I think John S has hit the nail on the head – the truth hurts!

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      I can only agree! Have a look at property prices in the WC as a whole and a quick chat with a business broker will tell you that they cannot get enough stock in the WC. Try hiring a trailer to travel from anywhere in the country to the WC and you will realize that there is a lot of traffic going to the WC and not much coming from it. This all speaks to a big semigration to the WC and not just by wealthy people. So one has to conlude that things are better run there and that it is now becoming the place to move to if you want some sort of decent service delivery by a local government. It has nothing to do with the “swart gevaar” and everything to do with finding a decent place to live. I think John S has hit the nail on the head – the truth hurts!

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Good comments!

  • Bob Dubery says:

    I enjoyed Zibi’s little dig that “I know that John can read, and I know that he can read in English.”

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      This is not about clever words, our country is critically ill and needs help.

      We all need to focus on what is important – and what is important is that a single party with n members is n times more effective in governing our country than n parties each having a single member.

      So vote for the biggest, proven best; vote DA.

      If you don’t you are doing yourself, your family, your friends and the rest of us who want a South Africa that works for all a serious disservice.

  • John Patson says:

    My Dad left South Africa for Southern Rhodesia, as an 18 year old in 1948 in part because he did not see how he could get through university financially, but also because of the influence of the poisonous election that year.
    Nieces and nephews who grew up in SA have already gone to the four corners of the world, and I am sure a look at this year’s elections will send some of this year’s 18 year olds out of he country again…

  • Abrie Venter says:

    Despite the good work they do, this kind of intellectual dishonesty (by platforming this type of drivel) is what makes it impossible to support the DM financially.

    To extrapolate what Steenhuisen said to the ‘swart gevaar’ you need to be a politician, like Zibi, or an idiot, and I don’t believe Nick Dall is either. So either he’s parroting what someone said without actually thinking about what Steenhuisen said in the context of our current political landscape, or he has ulterior motives.

    • Random Comment says:

      Well said.

      The term “intellectual dishonesty” perfectly sums up this article and, unfortunately, more and more of the DM’s output.

      • Peter Holmes says:

        I’m pleased that I’m not the only one who feels the DM has changed, and not for the better. I stopped my financial contribution a while back, primarily becasuse of the rigid (the DM likes to refer to it as peer review) process for getting a comment (let alone a response) published, as well as the lack of an uptick/downtick system. This stifles discourse, which appears to be the new “big brother” strategy of the DM.

    • Random Comment says:

      It is sad to see that the DM is resorting to clickbait journalism of this type.

      All it needs is a few scantily-clad influencers and some football goosip, and it could pass off as a South African version of the Daily Mail (UK).

    • Bob Dubery says:

      Well… maybe. It’s like this business of a cop in London confronting a Jewish person who said he was just trying to cross the road even though the road was full of pro-palestine protestors on a legal march. Did that officer just choose his words badly, or was he manifesting anti-semitism.

      There’s a pattern emerging with Steenhuizen, but we don’t know yet what it is. The charitable interpretation is to say that he’s clumsy with his word choices and not very aware of the national audience he is trying to reach. The less charitable interpretation is that he still carries around a bit of a feeling that white people are superior, that blacks must take it smile, and that black = corruption.

      I incline towards the former myself, but are he and whoever his advisors are so stupid that they don’t realise how things can be made to plausibly look?

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        I’m with you on this – how many times do Steenhuisen and Zille have to make gaffes – or statements that can be turned into gaffes – before they get the message? If he’s just genuinely making mistakes then he shouldn’t be the leader of the DA because he doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to navigate the minefield of South African race relations (which is still a major part of our politics). If, on the other hand, he’s dog-whistling to his ‘base’ and other assorted groups afraid of black government in the Western Cape, then he needs to be called out on it. Personally, I don’t think that the DA really wants to reach a broader constituency, if there public-facing image is anything to go by. Sad, I used to be a huge supporter.

        • Denise Smit says:

          When last did Zille say anything, but it suits you to taint her and everything she does. She has done more good for this country than most SAcans

      • Karl Sittlinger says:

        Steenhuisen never in any way mentioned race. That some people choose to interpret it that way says more about them than him.

        I find it hilarious how some commentators and politicians try their very hardest to make this about race, especially in light that the parties (not race) JS criticizes often really do only try to get access to resources (shown by how coalitions in the past fell apart and smaller parties flip flopped exactly because they wanted access to a cushy job and power). Race simply does not factor into this. You can’t just wave away the state of the entire country compared to the one province that actually gets so much more right and then shout racism.
        The strange thing is that the DA actually really has the most diverse membership and leadership (if you include all leadership and not just the top layer) of all parties. Do you see this on the ANC or EFF. Yet somehow this never comes up.
        It also seems perfectly acceptable for the other parties to use the specter of “wit gevaar” (the DA will bring back apartheid and cancel all grants, all lies without any kind of basis).
        Can we maybe have a discussion without the default assumption it’s about race until there is actual proof of it? I wonder if you can bring yourself to admit that the DA is being held to impossible high standards and that much of the accusations against it are a product of unnecessary prejudices.
        As for Rise M and Zibi, it seems he is really no better than other identity politics driven politicians

        • Bob Dubery says:

          You can talk about race or nationality without actually saying “black” or “white” or “German” or “Afrikaans”. You just have to invoke certain stereotypes. Everybody gets what you mean.

          I don’t actually think that Steenhuizen is a racist, but he does need to think a bit before he opens his mouth and wedges his foot right in there again. Or get some better advisers.

          • Karl Sittlinger says:

            “You can talk about race or nationality without actually saying “black” or “white” or “German” or “Afrikaans”. You just have to invoke certain stereotypes.”

            Yes you can, but at least from my perspective (and others) this clearly was not the case.
            One can also make assumptions, and see racism where there is none.

          • Denise Smit says:

            Those stereotipes and in your mind conveniently used against the DA in the wrong context

        • Denise Smit says:

          Well said

      • Denise Smit says:

        Well you are really being influenced by Zibi and the rest of the small clans doing what?
        And you dont seem to grasp the essence behind it

    • John Lewis says:

      It’s utter nonsense. Steenhuisen was clearly not referring to race, but to the way ANC-led coalitions ransack every institution they get their hands on. Splitting the vote and allowing the ANC to rule in concert with the PA, Good and other minnows will lead to Knysna writ large for the Western Cape. The idiocy of those who buy into the ANC’s narrative and agenda never ceases to amaze and depress.

  • Sergei Rostov says:

    It would have been more helpful if Rise Mazansi had explained just why it is devoting resources to contest good governance in the Western Cape, if it believes what Steenhuisen said is wrong, rather than launching well-worn ad hominem attacks.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      It’s an election year. All parties are contesting. If they don’t contest, what is the point of even registering with the IEC?

      It’s not enough to say that well, that province/city/ward is well run so we’ll leave it alone. You’ve formed a party because you have a vision that existing parties don’t embrace, and you believe that you will make a positive difference. Do you think Herman Mashaba doesn’t think that the WC would do better under ActionSA than under the DA? He might be wrong, but he BELIEVES it.

      Rise Mzansi are a new party looking to establish a foothold. They have made no secret of this, saying that this year is about getting a foot through the door prior to a bigger effort in 2029.

      This may worry the DA because they have seen the EFF become the third biggest party in parliament from a standing start, and they have seen ActionSA put in a credible performance in Johannesburg, but here is nothing sinister, malicious, dishonest, or misleading about Rise Mzansi contesting in the WC.

      The DA’s predecessor the DP polled just 2% in 1994 and under 10 in 1999. They know that a small start might lead to a bigger future.

    • TP Mudau says:

      Its called a constitutional democracy. If you dont like it, there is always Russia.

    • Denise Smit says:

      Rise Manzi use race exactly like the EFF and the ANC not even with more subtlety

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    In a perfect world, we SHOULD be solely focused on bread and butter issues of service delivery, law and order etc, as to my mind, if we lived in a country that was well run, peaceful and inclusive, race would be largely irrelevant. However, and whilst a large share of the blame for our current slide into collapse is directly the fault of the ANC, too many white South Africans completely deny the legacy of apartheid (and colonialism before that) and simply sneer at everything ‘black’ with a false sense of superiority. Witness how many times a day phrases like ‘this is Africa, what do you expect’ and ‘only in Africa’ or ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’ and ‘they’ and ‘them’, always with a dismissive, superior attitude, you see on these pages – a pretty liberal publication! All the while ignoring that in almost every corner of the world, lack of decent government is equally apparent.

    Personally, I don’t think that the majority of white South Africans have made any effort at all to honestly and truly understand the impact of colonialism and apartheid on our society; the desperation of poverty that leads to following those who promise so much without any ability to deliver (and includes those who fall for Ponzi schemes – or Markus Jooste-type charlatans). Perhaps with a little humility and introspection more white South Africans would understand why most black South Africans can’t bring themselves to vote for the DA, although I’m not holding my breath.

    • TP Mudau says:

      What irks me even more they go further and try manage our level of hurt and pain related to it. They decide what should hurt us, be sensitive to, be offended by and what shouldn’t? They are the judges of what constitutes real racism and what is merely just playing the race card.

      • BulZA Swzi says:

        All very convenient when one moves in the money circles…but not so convenient for votes. A heart of flesh is what everyone needs to build a really strong loving nation.

  • Chris Brand says:

    I am astonished that the above piece of so-called history (with all its thorns from all sides) have not taught anyone the real value of inclusiveness, forgiveness, “do unto others as you want them to do to you”, unconditional love for thy neighbor, etc. have not instilled the values of “forgive and forget and move on together for a new future” in everyone that are all suffering under the current conditions we all live in due to some ego-centric people who just wants to cater for their own pockets and only includes their own family members in the sharing of the wealth that our country has and that should be shared between all citizens (not in a socialist or communist way since neither are really sharing). Besides thinking that the writer of this article was just acting like a troll in writing the above and publishing it, I now after reading it, just reaffirmed my opinion that it seems all politicians are just “in it for themselves”. Why can they not act like the mayor of Cape Toown who not only talks, but walks his talks – all politicians can learn from him as well as from the newly elected president of Argentina that turned their country around within 2 months? USA, UK, CANADA, UKRAINE, RUSSIA as well as some other countries have all embraced the corrupt WEF’s dogma of acting as if indoctrinated by the Soros’ fatal view of what the future should be like. Crazy why it seems that no-one wants “to live in peace and improvement of living standards for all of its citizens”.

  • Beverley Roos-Muller says:

    This is an interesting if rather abbreviated potted history of ‘swart gevaar’ politics in South Africa, that may leave some readers wondering how it was that the incredibly clever Jan Smuts was Prime Minister of South Africa from 1939-48 – critically, through the period of WWII when assisting the Allies fight the Nazis.
    A prime reason that Hertzog won the 1929 election was because of nationalist bitterness about the 1922 rebellion, when Smuts correctly but controversially ordered his troops to open fire on ‘his own people’ who were in a bloody battle for employment, after the impoverishing Boer war, with blacks. Yet Smuts was voted back into power in 1939. He lost the 1948 election (as did Churchill directly after the war) as convenient nationalism again found a grip. His brilliant deputy, Hofmeyr, was blamed for his ‘k—-boetie’ politics and therefore the election loss; yet Hofmeyr had simply posited the obvious – what (should) happen when black citizens are ready to take their full place in the political sphere? This was a completely valid question…and one that many white South Africans find difficult to accept even today. Hence the white jingoism that still continues, after the peaceful transfer of power in 1994. That could have been a bloodbath; instead, wise heads, most of them Africanist, and Afrikaner, prevailed. What little thanks there is for that…this is how quickly history is forgotten.
    What happened next is what always happens, everywhere, power corrupts.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Well put!

    • Skinyela Skinyela says:

      “That could have been a bloodbath; instead, wise heads, most of them Africanist, and Afrikaner, prevailed.”

      You are dealing with people who believes that there is always a winner in a war, and they say that “we could have won that civil war”

  • Sean Hammon says:

    If you are suggesting that the real and rational fear of the consequences of black voters punting the filthy corrupt ANC, the EFF militant thieves and now the Vlad communist lapdogs, MK, is misplaced, I’d appreciate it if you wasted pen hours elsewhere.

  • ST ST says:

    You can all (or most of you) agree that ‘swart gevaar’ is imagined or exaggerated, but it doesn’t make it less real for some people and it one of the issues discussed and considered this election year. I agree we need a way forward. Denying other’s reality is not the answer. It makes people angrier. Look at the Trump US.

    If you were a black person in KZN in July 2021, you may believe this to be true or near the truth. I wasn’t there, family, friends and neighbours were reeling from the humiliating experience of being stopped and searched every time they try to go to their own homes. Respectable success productive members of society. Interrogated by their neighbours-not law enforcement.

    You may say it was not about race but safety. Not if you were at the receiving end. A lot of people alive today know apartheid. They lived/suffered through it. For them this was a trigger and reminder, even a sign that black still have no real power in SA.

    Yes It was a tricky time and a lot of people of all races felt unsafe. Yes the blacks were the ones involved in the riots and looting. And yes the law enforcers were then as usual ill prepared and not trusted to handle the situation. So people took matters in their hands and blacks, any blacks were at the receiving end of vigilantes. Some were killed. That was the reality. We can acknowledge or deny. But this is how a lot of people feel. Even I forget and try to move on but I quickly get reminded of what people experienced.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    It’s a well written piece in my opinion. For me, the DA messaging in comparison to the Freedom Front is very interesting (and somewhat surprising)
    The DA posters I have seen refers to saving South Africa or saving Gauteng whereas the Freedom Front messaging is about ‘fixing and building together’
    Perhaps I am reading to much into it but my impression is the DA have opted for a fear based appeal (swart gevaar re-packaged?) whereas the FF+ messaging is a call to work together.

    • Karl Sittlinger says:

      While I agree that positive messaging is much better than using fear, JS did not mention or mean to imply race. This is clearly about the ideological views of political parties and not their racial makeup. Since all these three parties are majority black parties, anything negative you would say about them, true or not could automatically be assumed to be driven by race rather than reason. This is compounded by the race of the person making that statement.

      How can we possibly have a honest conversation if the assumption is automatically race rather than reason?

      • Grumpy Old Man says:

        Karl, I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but whether we like it or not the DA has a perception problem and in my opinion they keep on playing to it.
        Every day there are comments on these very pages bemoaning peoples voting patterns and choices. This suggests that the lenses through which we see the world are not the same. You or I may not see a racial statement or intention – but we don’t get to decide how others see things.
        In my opinion the DA comes across as ‘insensitive’ and ‘superior’ – not much different to how the National Party came across.
        I can very easily see how others might perceive the DA as perpetuating the Swart Gevaar narrative.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      The DA posters are right. It should be a fear based appeal. We are in deep trouble. We should be scared for the future of South Africa. Compare 1994 to now and then imagine us in another 30 years if we don’t have dramatic and positive change immediately. A disaster.

  • Dermot Quinn says:

    It’s not even a physical danger but a very real danger that the Anti West and anti Western structures need to be removed, as per manifestos and replaced with something else. We have seen what Zuma did, what the EFF promises to do and the trajectory we are on. It’s about delivery, integrity and governance but most parties are still talking race and bad ideologies like nationalisation etc.
    Yes we must be very scared of these parties and parties based on colour need to be consigned to the trash bin.
    However it still looks like SA will vote along colour lines. The Apartheid smallanyamas refuse to disappear.

  • Alan Jeffrey says:

    OK , here is the gut honest paradox . I am guessing that most of you lot are like me-NON racists who really do prefer to judge individuals on what they are with no reference to skin colour BUT, and this is a BIG but, would any of you vote for the EFF, MK or the bloody ANC, all of which are exclusively Black and racist?? The reality is that almost all of Africa been destroyed by almost exclusively Black African governments is the reality that you dare not speak, so what do we think or do?? I am NOT a racist!!

  • Eckart Schumann says:

    Why not actually give some details about the hypocrisy of race, and accept the fact that being ‘white’, ‘black’ or indifferent is something that you as journalists and politicians like to emphasize because it rouses emotions. Explain the fact that Paul Kruger was the descendant of a slave, and was thus not ‘white’, in spite of the fact that DF Malan unveiled his statue in Kerkplein. Similarly that FW de Klerk was not ‘white’, also being the descendant of a slave. Or that many (most) southern Europeans and north Africans have similar ancestry and are mixed breeds. Or that many (most) east Africans have ancestry in the middle East and India and China from a 1000 years of slave trading, and thus are also of mixed descent.
    So please accept the fact that we as South Africans don’t need your racial diatribes.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    It was the heading that irked me most, albeit appropriate for a self-proclaimed “creative writer.” The lethal secret sauce few white voters can resist? Was there a previous poll confined to white South Africans? Question. What bothers you most for the future? Answer (by clear majority). The swart gevaar. Or did he discuss it over dinner with friends (presumably also exclusively white) friends who confirmed that this secret fear makes most of us quake in our beds at night. Then Steenhuisen’s “political mercenaries” translated as terrorists? I speed read and rejected the rest at that point. I am old enough to remember the swaart gevaar trope from my childhood but voted “for” in the 1992 referendum as did nearly 69% of whites and have not heard the term discussed, even as a poor joke. Until today.

  • Colin Braude says:

    A Frenchman goes up in a balloon gets lost in the fog. When the balloon lands, he sees a bowler hatted figure through the mist, carrying an umbrella.
    “Excuse moi,” he says, “can you tell me where I am, s’il vous plait?”.
    “Certainly, old chap”, says the stranger, “You are in a balloon, in a field, in a fog.”
    “And you, monsieur, must be an accountant!”
    “I say, actually, yes, I am — how did you know?”
    “Because the information you gave me is both perfectly accurate and perfectly useless”

    Nick Dall’s recap of swart gevaar, while interesting and accurate, is quite unrelated to the issue:

    South Africa is rapidly collapsing into failed statehood (when the ANC won power, a dollar cost R3-50; it’s now R18-00 – R19-00), the country has been though a plague of loadshedding, now dormant but expected to flare at State 16 after the elections; vast swathes of the country face taps running dry, crime is rampant, public health and state education are crisis zones, …
    Against this, DA-run councils and W Cape are beacons of hope.

    Steenhuisen questioned why the popcorn parties, instead of trying to topple the ANC to end corruption and state-failure, are fighting the DA, the only party that has reversed the fail. In response, Rise Msanzi falsely played the racecard, the new White Monopoly Capital.

    Instead of challenging Zibi’s reprise of Bell Pottinger or critiquing Steenhuisen’s politiciking, Dall supports the racecard faux narrative by diverting into a history lesson.

    • Alan Jeffrey says:

      Well said Colin. We need to concentrate on the attempt to recover some kind of good government. “Swart gevaar “is a non-issue resuscitated by a journalist who has run out of things to say.

  • BulZA Swzi says:

    This snapshot account of history is highly commendable. Listen, to the sounds of history that has shaped the culture and values of our nation. Our history allows us to understand where we all come from. Many have forgotten our own SA arc of progress and why daily sacrifices are made for our future generations. The liberal ideas which unite us of: free individual rights, free market and prosperity are universal! Therein lies the some the key concerns of Zibi. All of the above-mentioned values unite us, not only in SA but a prosperous global. He must be seen as a potentially able leader of a free & prosperous WC! Dividing these values by cast, race or class is what tears nations apart. The future is values driven.

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    “Swart gevaar was effective during apartheid, as only white people could vote. Hertzog, too, could get away with it because voters of colour made up a tiny fraction of the electorate in the 1920s. But the idea that it could still be alive and well in a country where the vast majority of voters stand to be repulsed by it is deeply troubling.”

    The mistake you are making is that those who use it(swart gevaar) wants to win the national elections and govern the whole country.

    They don’t, they only want to retain and maintain their current support. It’s their electoral niche.

  • michael james says:

    Rise Mzanis use of race was misplaced . The response showed immaturity and a lack of an alternative argument. A party that supports anti racism should never use race as an option unless there is a specific racist action. Rise Mzansi have identified the WC which they are entitled to do but steenhuizens view also needs that protection

  • Deon de Wet-Roos says:

    Dear Nick I find that DM gives a lot of pen time to guys like you. It is interesting that nobody ever asks the white or black guy at the corner of the street what he thinks. Alas, almost always the white guy is Afrikaans. Nick, I can assure you we Afrikaners most certainly don’t care about the Swart Gevaar and for those who vote thare will be many other things that will decide who they vote for. I call myself an Afrikaner but that may be too much of a stretch because I don’t abide by their religious and social customs. Just speak the language. Just think in Afrikaans. Maybe some older Afrikaners or whites mat still worry about die Swart Gevaar. Most of us don’t give a rats. We are too busy building our wealth and ensuring our future and heritage through hard work. As for the elections. I don’t really care who wins. I think the ANC will win again. Hopefully some coalitions will be forced into the mix. If this happens I will be very happy.

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