Sam van den Berg
Jacob Zuma has done the country a service long overdue — he has finally exploded the fairy-tale of the Rainbow Nation.
Politicians came together in the nineties and 'solved' the problem of racism. Mandela and De Klerk presided as patron saints over the labours of those who drafted a democratic constitution - stumbling along the path so clearly laid out by the reviled Liberal Party more than 30 years before. They also presided over the Truth and Reconciliation process.
No-one seemed to notice that the process ignored those who had suffered most -innocent victims of decades of socio-economic brutality, and victims of a dirty war (approved by Mandela and the leaders of the National Party in their separate ways) of cowardly and indiscriminate bombs in public places, necklacings provoked by gossip and provocateurs on both sides of the struggle for power. 'Truth and Reconciliation' were reserved for those whose acts of brutality were 'politically motivated' - a principle which would have exonerated all those hanged at Nurnberg. Did this establish a new principle in law - that the ruthless pursuit of power is an excuse for murder?
Nor did anyone notice that the whole process of 'building the rainbow nation' was merely a smooth process of one nomenklatura handing over power to another. Golden handshakes in return for guaranteed positions in government and business. Also, no-one seemed unduly concerned about the small loophole in the constitution that opened the door to black racism, nepotism and general corruption - in the name of redressing the wrongs of the past.
Poor paid the price
In the end, it was not white millionaires who paid the price for this, but the poor - who can forget the pitiful accounts of pensioners dying while queuing for pensions they would never receive because the money had been pilfered by beneficiaries of Black Empowerment?
On the National Party-NG Kerk (Dutch reformed churches) side, copious crocodile tears were shed. Apologies for the sin of apartheid were made. Feet were washed. Yet, remarkably, neither PW Botha and his bloody-handed accomplices, nor Thabo Mbeki and his equally blood-spattered collaborators, were willing to come forward and reveal the truth about their involvement in the dirty war over which they presided - from far behind the trenches.
To con the masses into voting for their new tormentors, the myth of a War of Liberation was created. A war that never was. How many ordinary people realise that no MK armies ever fought real battles against the SADF in South Africa itself? The reason for this was simple — they were too busy doing the Kremlin's dirty work in Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia. Those MK soldiers who actually wanted to fight a real war against Apartheid were brutally punished by the Tambo-Hani-Mbeki gang.
The only battles in South Africa were fought by suicide squads sent in to their certain death - and useful martyrdom; and by provocateurs starting the chain of gossip that would lead to the burning alive of supposed enemies. They talked endlessly of the problem of racism - but what was the reality? Not racism - but poverty, hunger, disease and misery. They still talk endlessly about racism - and the misery increases by the day.
The rainbow nation, the process of 'reconciliation', the smooth handover of power from one gang of fat-cats to another, none of these changed the lives of the poor by one jot. Indeed, their misery has increased. The rich partially changed their colour, but they have grown wealthier. The poor partially changed their colour - and got poorer. It is ironical that it took another morally tainted fat cat to blow this myth to pieces.
Unfortunately, history has taught those of us who still bother about such things as history in the postmodernist world, that populism may well plunge the masses into worse misery than before. Mbeki’s arrogance, his sense of imperial entitlement (which exceeded even that of the monstrous PW Botha), his hubris, have brought the country to the brink of disaster.
Blame for their sins
Those most deeply involved in the evil, tried to set up one of their own, Zuma, to take the blame for their sins. The scapegoat is now turning on his former comrades. It is a brawl that may still plunge the country into the worst crisis in recent history. If we allow the ANC to interfere with the constitution, with the judiciary and with the freedom of the media — as they are aching to do — South Africa may soon join Zimbabwe and others in darkest Africa. We can only hope that the ANC will now shatter into its irreconcilable parts so that a viable multiparty system can emerge from the mess that Mbeki, Zuma and their comrades have made.
(Ed.-If Pretoria (now renamed Tshwane) was the citadel of the apartheid system, the brothers Sam, Maritz and Johann van den Berg - from an Afrikaans-speaking family - stood up against the rule of apartheid in the centre of the citadel from 1958 as members of the Pretoria University Students' Branch of the Liberal Party, and continued as active members of the party until its dissolution in 1968. That required moral courage of a very high order. The Van den Bergs were among a group of young Afrikaners and others in Pretoria who joined the Liberal Party in the late fifties. They chose the Liberal Party as what they saw as the only nonracial party, and the only one which articulated the principles of liberal democracy based on universal suffrage and nonviolence. They distrusted the Congress Movement for several reasons - because of its division along apartheid lines, and because of what they saw as its infiltration by Stalinists and by people 'who talked too easily of violence'.