Nando’s/Cliff outcry: Don’t chicken out of race debate

25 October 2021 - The evidence is overwhelming that South Africans do not, in the main, believe racism is currently a particularly serious crisis, or that poverty is currently imposed by white supremacists. These are facts that few in the brand and information industries are eager to face.

The evidence is overwhelming that South Africans do not, in the main, believe racism is currently a particularly serious crisis, or that poverty is currently imposed by white supremacists. These are facts that few in the brand and information industries are eager to face.

The major crisis is unemployment, currently 34% on the narrow definition, whose contemporary source is not widespread racism. Over 70% of people wish to work together across racial lines, according to the IRR’s 2020 field survey of ordinary South Africans, and a higher proportion would like people to be appointed to jobs on merit.

Moreover, according to the same poll, over 70% think more jobs and better education will cause racial divisions to disappear. Only 3% think racism should be a priority for government to tackle.

Unemployment, and failures in housing, service delivery, water and sanitation, poverty relief, infrastructure, and education (cumulatively identified by over 50% as major problems) are caused by the corrupt application of taxpayer funds, government policy that is hostile to investment-driven job creation, and schools that fail to properly prepare the great majority of young people for gainful employment.

Particularly in the week before an election that may see South Africa’s governing party, the enforcer of these destructive policies, lose its majority grip, there will be vested interests with a motivation to deny this reality and supplant it instead with the view that this country’s contemporary problems are directly caused by racism and not by the policies of the ruling alliance.

Third parties should be cautious of endorsing this view in order to be seen as popular because the implications of doing so will be to promote a false narrative and thereby delay the reforms ordinary South Africans need if the plight of the poor and marginalised is ever to be addressed

Ignoring the politics of race is as hopeless as buying into the myth that most South Africans describe themselves as daily victims of racism. In the 2020 field survey, 80% of all black respondents said they had not “personally experienced any form of racism over the past five years”.

This is good news, not to be shied away from, but rather to be emphasized in the pursuit of a democratic system of accountability that serves most people’s interests.

Said IRR head of campaigns Gabriel Crouse: “The debate between Gareth Cliff and Mudzuli Rakhivhane was emblematic of two divergent streams of root-cause analysis in South Africa. If the tiny minority who see racism everywhere continue to trend the course of debate, the South African government will continue to diverge from the self-described priorities of most people.”

Media contact: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360;gabriel@irr.org.za

 
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

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