Welcome to SA, where elections aren’t about race, yet somehow ...

Ideas

Welcome to SA, where elections aren’t about race, yet somehow still are

We all want a country that puts people’s upliftment first, but politicians’ focus on race will defer that dream

Columnist

Why has an election that should be all about the state of our metros and towns degenerated into a racial slanging match, with the DA cast as a party that promotes white interests, and the ANC presenting itself as having the welfare of the black majority at heart, even though that is clearly not always the case? One might have thought the well-publicised ruin of municipalities by ANC councillors, and the corruption scandals, would have made this an easy election for the opposition. But this has not been the case, possibly because there has never been an election in SA that has not been about race.

Conversely, though, if our politics were only about race, why has the EFF, with its overt promise of a full-scale racial reversal of roles, not managed to break through its 15% ceiling? Its leader, Julius Malema, has not been shy to capitalise on racial tensions, and much of his political narrative is based on the idea that 1994 represented anything but a break from the past. White privilege remains intact, even with an ANC government in power. It’s a persuasive narrative, another chapter in the epic saga of dispossession.

Could it be, though, that while race infuses our politics, and probably always will, it is not the only consideration in people’s legitimate aspirations for their and their children’s future? This suggests an underlying racial pragmatism, and a possible foundation upon which to build a fairer society...

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