Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Something I wrote recently on regional political campaigns

Posted by Simon Halliday | Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Category: |

The DA and 'Racism' 22.01.06

Over the years in which I have been eligible to vote as a young man in South Africa, not much has made me more frustrated than the posters put up all over Cape Town before the national and regional elections. However, I have yet to be as annoyed and enraged by the recent posters that I have seen put up all over Rondebosch and Claremont around the university where I am currently studying to complete my masters.

The following are on the posters. A picture of Tony Leon (a white man) accompanied by the slogan 'The DA delivers', a poster of Helen Zille (a white female) with the slogan 'Zille for Mayor'. Neither of these are particularly inflammatory. However, the most angering of the posters is that which states 'End ANC Racism'. This slogan, combined with the two white faces that pre- or proceed the posters, immediately implies that the racism is of black individuals towards white individuals. It does not take much insight to construct this link.

Disregarding this insight for a moment, the fact that any party in South Africa, ten years after the advent of democracy, decides to plot its election strategy in terms of race politics is disturbing. In fact it is more than ill-conceived it is offensive. If the DA decided to attack the poor roll-out of anti-retrovirals (ARVs), or if they wished to interrogate the problems of service delivery (which I assume is what the 'The DA Delivers' slogan is intended to mean), or if they have problems with education and its management, then all of these attacks on policy would be at least in some way warranted. But, attempting to assert that the ANC in any way supports some racialistic ideology has the potential to damage the burgeoning democracy upon which this country is based. Accusing any one individual in a position of power, or any powerful of organisation, of racism is equally damaging and can undermine any achievements we have made thus far in terms of democratisation, deracialisation and the desegregation of politics, services and the institutions of South African society. I struggle to understand how the DA, their strategists and their members of parliament could possibly assent to a mode of political attack that involved the accusation of racism. At the minimum it is short-sighted, if nothing else it is grossly incompetent.

In terms of possible policy options I had considered voting for the Democratic Alliance. As soon as I saw the poster making the claim that the DA intended to 'End ANC Racism' I knew that I could not be a conscientious voter and support the DA in the upcoming regional elections. I wish that the DA had considered the gravity of their actions prior to taking this stand on domestic politics.

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