PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's insistence that apartheid must still be blamed for our country's woes, among them homelessness, ignorance, victimisation, marginalisation, poverty, corruption and pervasive violence, is not worthy of his station. Such a comment really means, and well our president knows it, "the continuing pathos and tragedy of South Africa's dark people collectively, 20 years into freedom is and will remain the fault of whites"...whatever.
The real issue though, whether it be apartheid, the holocaust, the atom bomb, slavery, alien visitations or the second coming is: is the beast dead?
I think it committed suicide after the referendum in 1990.
The beast called apartheid was the legislated discrimination of a people by race, an iniquity exacerbated by interpretation. The isolated pockets of remnant racist attitudes do not constitute apartheid, neither do certain concessionary business deals either, because were it so, then surely South Africa's current economic policy can be given the same name?
So no, those pockets of yesterday are simply racist people, unfortunately as much part of our world as are factionalists, xenophobists, zealots, bigots, etc.
To continue bandying about with the spectre of apartheid is as disadvantageous as much as it is disingenuous. For example, Marikana comes to mind – how the police action has been compared to that of the apartheid era.
To evoke the bogey man of yesteryear therefore is not only dangerous, but stupid, because there is an emerging school of thought that postulates that the police methods haven't changed over the decades, because the predilection for violence by the population hasn't changed either! Similarly there are unfavourable comparisons with apartheid being made by more and more academics and lay people of all social sectors, proving how much of a double-edged sword evocative speeches can be.
Leadership of a country is a skill, contrary to both the art of rabble-rousing or the passion of revolution. Each evocation of apartheid is an enabling breath for apologists and accusers alike.
Trevor Manual's observation is therefore not only correct, but cautionary – the expired spectre must not be given credence, even as an excuse.
It is a fact that, since Nelson Mandela's retirement, the ANC has shown a distinct inability to produce a statesman (whose function it is to lead, to govern, to honour and value its citizens, to manage money, to educate and enshrine the cultures of its varied citizenry). This is not because of apartheid, but rather because the ANC, unable or unwilling to shrug off its struggle origins, remains a revolutionary movement as opposed to a governing body, evidenced by what we call corruption, cadreism, et al, but what in reality is just collective bounty, a trough from which all associated groupings wish to feed.
The result is a fractured society, epitomised by factionalism, violence, xenophobia, bigotry, prejudice and hate. I think we've recovered from apartheid. What's needed now is a cure for the ANC.
Stan Esterhuizen, Sardinia Bay, Port Elizabeth