By Andile Mngxitama
Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress (ANC) alliance’s anti-racism campaign is an insult to Steve Biko, George Floyd and Collins Khosa. The campaign is an haphazard affair meant to essentially take our eyes away from the complicity of the Ramaphosa administration in racism.
Racism is flourishing under Ramaphosa from the arrogance of taking over the economy by white monopoly capitalism to replacing black executives with whites in the State Owned Entities (SOEs); to honouring and defending the mastermind behind the apartheid mass murderer, FW De Klerk; to unleashing the police on black people in Marikana; and to the murder of blacks by the military under the current Covid-19 national lockdown.
Ramaphosa and the ANC have no moral standing to talk about fighting racism. Under their rule, Orania is allowed to operate as a monument and tribute to colonialism and apartheid. As we speak the military and the police are in the townships continuing to murder blacks. Blacks are starving in the townships and villages.
Ramaphosa has failed previously to acknowledge that his military has murdered Collins Khosa. Cynically as he invokes the name of Khosa, his military denies that it murdered him. The military has in fact cleared itself of any wrongdoing, and has put the blame on its victim. Khosa, according to the military, committed suicide. Furthermore the military is spending thousands of rands defending the murder of Khosa, while Ramaphosa is ostensibly against police brutality and invokes Khosa’s name. There are over 10 people that have been murdered by the police and military since the beginning of the lockdown. One of the victims is the 23 year old Ntando Malema from Soweto. There’s been no apology; no acknowledgment; no reparations; and no prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators, in relation to the murders yet Ramaphosa is leading a campaign against racism and police brutality. This is a cynical cold political calculation to cash in on the groundswell against injustices perpetrated by the state against blacks everywhere on earth.
Political scavengers, who have nothing to say about the killing of blacks by the South African state, are too quick to hide their culpability or indifference by jumping on the George Floyd bandwagon to score cheap political brownie points. This is fake international solidarity which serves to deflect attention away from what’s happening to blacks in South Africa (SA), to the USA embassy. This hypocrisy, which comes from both Ramaphosa and the opposition parties, must be exposed.
The Ramaphosa administration is too deeply implicated in racism to be a champion of anti racism and this is reflected in the confused objectives of the latest makeshift campaign. The anti racism campaign is a mere public relations game being played with the lives of blacks. To invoke the names of the victims of racism like Steve Biko and George Floyd is cynical and sick and is intended to whitewash the racist state, managed by Ramaphosa.
Blacks are victims of both direct state violence and systematic racism that finds expression in everyday black reality. After 26 years of democracy, black people remain landless and poor. The Covid-19 emergency stimulus packages have exposed how servile to white monopoly capital (WMC) the Ramaphosa administration is, for instance only 2% of the R500 billion relief is likely to be offered to the unemployed. A further R540 billion was given to banks with nothing allocated for the poor from this assistance. The bulk of all these funds goes to white owned entities, yet the poor are still waiting for the Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of R350, seventy days after the lockdown.
The systematic disregard for black people’s interests is a function of racism. The neglect, poverty, failing public health system, and dilapidated schools reserved for black people is racism. Racism is not just the individual acts against black people – these are made possible by institutionalised racism. Ramaphosa must stop playing games. He must use the state to address racism. He must offer a full apology to the Khosa family and pay reparations. The same goes to all those murdered by the police and military during the lockdown. Ramaphosa must stop delegating responsibility when he has to show leadership. The murderers of Steve Biko were left to walk just like those who murdered Ahmed Timol, Andries Tatane, the Marikana workers, and Collins Khosa.
Ramaphosa and the ANC must stop the cynical use of international solidarity to divert attention from the brutalities unleashed in SA upon black people by the state they control. Racism is not a misunderstanding between friends, as the ANC likes to believe. Land and economic return are the cornerstones of anti racism. Steve Biko was murdered by the apartheid state for his commitment to ending racism. A government that facilitates racism is morally in no position to invoke Biko’s name in its public relations exercises in order to appear concerned when in fact the opposite is true. What Ramaphosa and the ANC alliance are doing is an outrageous disregard for the fight against racism. It is also patent that the ANC leadership doesn’t understand what racism is. The first act must be to educate itself on this important matter.
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization. He is also the author of “Blacks Can’t Be Racist” (10th anniversary print is now available)