Monday, August 29, 2011

Putting Pinky in her place

The tendency of black South African columnists, with a few treasured rare exceptions, to paint our entire history - and hence white people's role therein - in as negative a light as possible, prompted me to again submit a letter for publication n the Sunday Times. Alas, last Sunday it was not used. Indeed, no letters critical of Ms Pinky Khoabane were used. Anyway, for the record, this is what I submitted:

Pinky Khoabane simply bristles with a Mugabe-like desire for revenge and retribution in “Sorry arch, but now it’s too little and too late” (August 21). And of course it is her white South African compatriots who are again in her sights.

I am always alarmed at the knee-jerk response of black South African commentators to the realities of a modern economic system in which they still do not feature as prominently as they should. Certainly, since 1994, the ANC has ensured that the bulk of state jobs have gone to people of colour – even if this has often been at the cost of efficiency as underqualified people have been promoted.

But it is the private sector that worries Khoabane most, as she again cites with disdain the fact that whites are still in the vast majority of managerial positions, while it is also still white farmers doing most of the commercial agriculture.

The way she writes, you would think that when whites first started arriving in this country over 350 years ago, there was already a thriving, modern economy which they then stole. The reality is that way back in history, Europeans explored and often colonised vast tracts of the earth. The British empire was immense, and South Africa was part of it for about 150 years. Before that, it was the Dutch who impacted on the Cape. The end result of this long, often ugly and discriminatory, association between settlers and natives was the development of modern towns and cities; the establishment of a first-world economy. Apartheid, from 1948, undermined what should have been a gradual deracialising of the economy – and drove a wedge between black and white.

Instead of blaming the ANC for failing, over the past 17 years, to institute a working education system which would have helped economically empower black people, Khoabane falls back on the old trick of blaming whites themselves. Whose fault is it that, despite throwing billions of rands at the problem, our schools are still not providing the vast majority of black children with essential skills?

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