In the initial article regarding this issue, which was also published in The Star newspaper on February 21 under the headline “Her message has to resonate with South Africans”; this writer stated that Ramphele’s political platform would do well in elections if its vision and ideology captures the people’s imagination. A weekly newspaper has since reported that Ramphele’s initial plan was to join the DA and become its national leader and Helen Zille would sacrifice her top seat to be the second-in-command with the aim of neutralizing the view that the DA is a white party that simply needs black votes. Apparently the negotiations hit a snag when Ramphele suggested the dissolution of the DA.
These reports do not bode well for a party that wants to start on a new slate. Moreover, this is being dishonest and beguiling unsuspecting potential followers and members just like your run-of-the-mill political parties. Politically literate voters who are against neo-liberalism and parties that follow the “Washington Consensus” will not want to have anything to do with a Black DA.
This association with the US coupled with Ramphele’s reticence on the invasion of Africa for its resources by the US, France and other western powers will give grist to the mill of those who are accusing Ramphele’s political platform as an initiative of the US.
There are also media reports that Dr Ramphele’s new philosophy is to “transcend race or racial categories”. She is quoted as having said that a system that did not take colour into account would be the most effective. Ideally this would be excellent. Practically at the present moment this would be a pie-in-the-sky. Politically correct anthropology denies the existence of race but racial phenotype matters in social and economic relations. Critical analysts do not buy into the myth of liberal multiculturalism, unity in diversity and rainbowism.
South African society is polarised today because of racism. The majority of Africans are poor today because of their race and we cannot wish that away by pronouncements. Robert Sobukwe and the PAC preached non-racialism but admitted the existence of observable physical differences between various groups of people, but these differences are the result of a number of factors, chief among which has been geographical isolation.
Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement of which Ramphele was a member advocated non-racialism which could be achieved after white racism has been destroyed. Since the death of Sobukwe and Biko racism has not changed instead it has become subtle.
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop said that when white people benefit from racism they support it but if it did not benefit them they would deny the existence of race. However, he said at the genotypical (genes) level human beings are the same but differ only at the phenotypical (physical appearance) level. This is the view held by Sobukwe and the PAC since the PAC’s inception in 1959.
Racism or white supremacy is a global power system which must be well understood for its victims to know how to combat it. When racism has been completely destroyed and its effects completely eradicated we can then adopt a system that did not take colour into account. Much as we advocate non-racialism we implore Ramphele’s new formation not to overlook the damage racism visited upon Africans and consequently trivialise it.
Finally, on electoral reform we urge not only Ramphele’s political formation but all the political parties and social movements in this country to insist that there should be a law that:
* Regulates political party funding and compels them to disclose their funders;
* The IEC must be independent;
* There must be spending limits;
* Political parties must submit their audited financial reports;
* Regulate technology used during elections such as inspecting software of IEC computers;
* Results must be verified by all the parties and be systematically fed to the IEC office in Pretoria.
By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI)