By Mlungisi Ntsele
In a well thought out article, The Destiny of The Coloured People Is Tied To That Of Their African Compatriots http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/destiny-coloured-people-tied-african-compatriots/ Comrade Greg Mashaba writes about the racial tensions between the Coloured community and their African compatriots. A compelling argument is made around the underlying issues behind the incidents both in Klipspruit and Roodeport where the Coloured community refused to accept the appointment of African principals in their schools.
In the last paragraph Mashaba writes: “Our Coloured compatriots would do well to understand this political reality (My insert: Coloured community rights cannot be sought in isolation from black Africans). To do otherwise would not only serve to deepen their political and social isolation, but it will serve the interests of those who seek to undermine our collective quest to create a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.”
I agree fully with the analysis although the article took a long term view of the problem without talking to the immediate issues (justifiably so because of time and space constraints). I thought of three questions that might help us answer the short term causes of the problem. The questions are as follows: firstly whose political interest do the recent incidents (past 3 years or so) serve? Secondly, what informs the form of protest (defiance instead of engagement) employed by the community? And thirdly why target specifically black Africans? (I make a safe assumption that this would not happen to a white principal).
I am a resident in Westdene which is in Ward 69 of Region B in JHB; this ward includes predominantly Coloured areas such as Westbury and Coronationville. The region itself includes areas like Riverlea, Bosmont and Newclare. In these areas there are common complaints that you hear from the community: “The Africans have taken over – look at our schools, our police stations are full of them and even in our clinics. Where are we supposed to work? Our children cannot even get space in OUR own schools anymore”. These complaints are even expressed at the annual Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meeting. Yes some of the complaints are not without merit. The personnel of the Brixon and Sophiatown Police Station, for example, do not resemble the population demographics of the area.
This complaint talks to people who perceive themselves as being under siege and economically marginalised in their own community. This feeling of being marginalised has lent itself well to exploitation by the Democratic Alliance (DA).
To maintain this feeling of being marginalised by the coloured community the DA employs two tactics. Firstly, it constantly highlights the little progress made in areas like Soweto in comparison to Coloured areas, to foster the US (Coloureds) against Them (hence the main targets are black Africans). Secondly, they actively discourage the community from engaging with government processes, formally and constructively, so as to say the government processes are rigged against Coloured people. It serves the DA’s political interest to maintain and perpetuate the discord between the two communities.
In their election manifesto, the DA promised the creation of an untold number of jobs, one wondered where these would come from with our sluggish economic growth. The answer lies in who the message was directed to; the main target of this message was the Coloured community. These jobs in question are replacement jobs (Replace Africans with Coloured people). Strategy number one, prevent the employment of African people in Coloured areas or near Coloured areas using whatever means possible. Strategy number two, where the DA has the appointing power, only hire Coloured people whenever the opportunity arises.
One cannot properly appreciate what is currently happening without examining the poisonous role played by the DA. In the lead up to the elections the DA has been stoking these tensions and now it has to be seen to deliver on its promises. It cannot and will not allow the appointment of African policemen, nurses, teachers, principals or even construction labour in Coloured areas. In recent months one has come across adverts that specifically look for Coloured people.
The DA’s hope is that if it can deliver these small victories at local and municipal level, it can then make a case that if voted into the Gauteng provincial government it will deliver more such jobs – and it will.
The Gauteng Department of Education is the most visible victim of this sinister campaign but the problem is much wider than that. Yes we need to conscientise our Coloured brothers and sisters of our intertwined destinies as the long term solution but in the short run we need to counter this sinister Democratic Alliance campaign.