Watchdog guest Andile ‘bites’ open discussion on Fish Hoek Students

THE WATCHDOG is a regular SABC panel discussion hosted by Vuyo Mvoko. A recent episode on the Fish Hoek High ‘diversity intervention’ saga turned into a political platform for race supremo Andile Mngxitama, who attacked fellow panelist Sara Gon’s right to exist as a human being and citizen.

It does appear the Dept of Education, had used the opportunity presented by accusations of racism levelled at a single Fish Hoek teacher, to instead lock up several hundred students in a school hall, force feeding them propaganda on race and sexuality while reprimanding those present for ‘being white’ or ‘aligned with whiteness’. It was certainly not the ‘mere reading of a poem’ which got people a little hot-headed.

Mngxitama was given ample time to bend the narrative to his own liking, he is after all, the author of a thin, self-published 2009 volume: ‘Blacks can’t be racist’ which borrows heavily from an argument first deployed in a 1987 Socialist Worker  article “The Fallacy of Reverse Racism,” in which the author wrote, “Blacks cannot be ‘racists.’ They are not in a position to oppress anyone — certainly not the majority white population of the U.S.” 

“It makes me very angry” says Mngxitama, “… a situation where black children, black facilitators trying to deal with acts of racism end up being accused of being racist. You see the civil society organisations called Afriforum, Democratic Alliance, the white political projects including white civil society, is very clear in manipulating language to maintain the white status quo.”

“So white children must not be told that their forefathers stole the land, that they are direct beneficiaries of apartheid.”

This strategic umbrage is unfortunately quite the contrary to the objections and record of the facts, lodged by civil society. (See my earlier piece here). The criticism has nothing to do with language games but rather genuine concern for the well-being of students. People feel targeted and unsafe as a result, necessitating trauma counselling. As the popular saying goes, ‘If it talks like a duck, walks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck?’

Free Speech SA’s Gon believes:”It’s very problematic to attribute to children what may or may not have been the behaviours of their predecessors, or their parents or grandparents.” You can read Gon’s piece on the subject here. And further commentary below.

If anything ‘white folk’ as citizens, and especially children, should be considered the current beneficiaries of a democratic system, under the Second Republic, one which grants equal rights and privileges to all citizens under a Bill of Rights. One of which is freedom of thought, the right to exercise inalienable liberties enshrined in our constitution. Understandably such a viewpoint begs the question of how are we all to access our rights, when doing so seems to carry such an enormous economic cost?

Only a fool would pretend such bread and butter issues did not have their genesis in the previous apartheid period, or the failings of the economy under the current government, and yes, the problem of institutional racism. This is not a call to end diversity training, but rather, to pose questions of methodology and praxis.

No Seat First

Mngxitama’s bizarre campaign to end the current status quo by literally halting the democratic dispensation, to pillory all white people, to accuse all and sundry of land theft, is surely a step too far, and has unsurprisingly tended to fail at the polls.

Not only did Black Land First (BLF), fail to garner any seats during the last election, but Mngxitama has been forced out of desperation to gerrymander and hijack platforms like that of Mvoko’s Watchdog. It is no coincidence that the basis for a thin 2009 volume of polemic, Black’s can’t be racist has inveigled its way into so-called diversity sessions. You can read my earlier piece deconstructing the strange assertion here.

One shudders to think what real ‘blackness’ might entail if it meant blind authority and cowtowing to a party line? Fish Hoek High School, like most public schools in the area, services a diverse cross-section of society, and is for all intents and purposes, a mixed school. So much for the time-warp narrative.

Mngxitama however proceeded to accuse Gon, who is not affiliated in any way, of being a ‘spokesperson for whiteness and a beneficiary of apartheid’ and went so far as upbraiding her appearance and presence in the country, claiming ‘whiteness is unethical’.

During the discussion, Mngxtama can be heard repeatedly attacking Gon for her alleged resort to ‘constitutionalism’ and free speech, or as he put it, ‘constitutional words’.

The BLF honcho’s position comes across as that of an intellectual bigot — anyone vaguely white, (you could have just a drop of blood) is automatically a beneficiary of apartheid — and should have no recourse to law, since in Mngxitama’s jaundiced view, such persons should be considered persona non grata?

So far as Mngxitama is concerned, every ‘white person’ is a racist regardless of whether or not you fought against apartheid, or were once the subject of a race reclassification saga. As such all melanin-deficient individuals are to be treated as unwelcome guests inside a ‘black country’, one characterised by the statement, ‘Africa for the Natives Only.’

Is this not the self-same bigotry posing as anti-racism, against which valid objections from Fish Hoek parents to the Dept were addressed, resulting in the Dept issuing a mea culpa? Mvoko resoundingly failed to bother touching the tricky subject of why an apology was even issued.

Blood libel

BLF has time and again issued what is essentially a blood libel, in its effort to inspire a semblance of nationalistic zeal, producing a mythology based upon 1994-denialism. Its founding texts should not be the starting point for anything as sensitive as an ‘intervention session on diversity’.

Ultra-left groups such as these appear to desire the creation of an ‘all black republic’, cast along racial lines, and sugar-coated with socialist rhetoric, similar in many ways to the double-speak of the former apartheid regime. Worse many current formations, envisage a continental superstate, unified not because of non-racial democracy, but rather amalgamated due to the machinations of skin pigmentation. It is a slow moving, ‘Fatah-risation of the struggle’ in which white persons, much like Jews, are restrained from occupying leadership positions.

Though Mvoko gave Gon ample time to put her case, and another guest Hendrik Makaneta stated that he ‘disagreed with blanket blaming people’, before lamely listing the communist Joe Slovo as a ‘white activist who had sacrificed during the struggle’, he essentially failed to moderate the debate when it came to Mngxtama. Mvoko literally introduces Mngxtama as some form of authority then avoids drawing down around the facts, (of which there are precious few). In the end, the current affairs show bore witness to the expression of an unscientific theory cast as the very basis for ‘diversity training’, one which proceeds to excuse behaviour, but exclusively for one group alone?

Mngxitama thus objected to Gon being given extra time, the same way he once objected to the weather. He famously stated the Cape of Storms was the result of ‘white monopoly capital’. (South-Easter, yet more evidence of racism!). Have a white friend or two, well, you’re hopelessly compromised?

Mvoko deserves to be red-carded for dishonesty, and called out for allowing the advocate of a repugnant minority viewpoint to appear on a national news channel, to discuss his own crackpot theories, without bothering to introduce the author as a promoter (if not originator) of the subject. Mngxitama is certainly pitted against non-racialism, a perverse contrarian to our democratic order, yet granted succour in a prime time slot that ended up sadly reiterating the tired race stereotypes and caricature of the past.

As Gon put it: “The way to create understanding between groups, between races … is all about getting people to talk about it without being intimidated.’