ARTICLE: CYRIL RAMAPHOSA’S RESPONSE TO FW DE KLERK’S SPEECH OF 31 JANUARY ON THE NEED FOR REAL TRANSFORMATION

ramaphosa-foterI welcome Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to my speech of 31 January, which dealt, among other topics, with the ANC’s approach to transformation - as embodied in its National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

Mr Ramaphosa was unhappy that I questioned the NDR’s constitutionality and claimed that "In both word and deed, the ANC has placed the constitution at the centre of its vision for a new South Africa." However, the NDR, and not the Constitution, is at the centre of the ANC’s vision - and it is profoundly unconstitutional.  

I agree with Ramaphosa on the need for section 9(2) measures to promote equality. However, Ramaphosa completely ignores section 9(3) and 9(5), which prohibit unfair racial discrimination by the state and which declare that discrimination is unfair unless it is established that it is fair.

Government measures to promote equality have clearly failed. South Africa is more unequal than it was in 1994. Affirmative action and BBBEE have benefited the emerging black middle class and elite but they have done very little for the bottom 85% of the population. In fact, the appointment of unqualified cadres to key posts has been one of the main causes for service delivery failures and for perpetuating inequality.  

I gave full credit to the government for the provision of housing, electricity and water and social grants. However, government should have done much more to empower the poor by providing decent education and jobs and by ensuring sustained economic growth - the very priorities identified by Mr Ramaphosa’s own National Planning Commission. That is by far the best route to rapid black economic advancement and to sustainable representivity.

Mr Ramaphosa’s view that inequality can best be achieved by diminishing the role of whites in the economy is profoundly mistaken. White South Africans, for many reasons, represent a diminishing - but still disproportionate - percentage of South Africa’s best-qualified and most experienced managers, farmers, scientists, professionals and entrepreneurs. Does the ANC really want to prevent them from making their indispensible contribution to our economy by limiting them to a 9% role in key sectors?

The NDR is an all-embracing state ideology. It has its millenarian vision (the National Democratic Society); its plausible logic (demographic representivity) and its targeted bogeymen (white beneficiaries of 'apartheid-colonialism'). Apartheid was also an ideology. But where 'separate development' forced human beings into homelands, the NDR is intent on confining them in demographic pens in virtually every aspect of their lives - in the their jobs, in their professions, in universities and schools and in the media. It is the most comprehensive programme of racial domination that one can imagine.

In my speech I called for transformation that would help us achieve the vision of equality, human dignity and non-racialism in our Constitution. I pointed to the need for genuine transformation of our education system; our labour market; our economy and our justice system - in effect, the kind of transformation advocated by the National Development Plan.  

Does Mr Ramaphosa really think that the NDP can succeed unless all South Africans - black and white - work together? Will such co-operation be possible if, as President Zuma recently threatened, the ANC launches a "new radical phase" in the implementation of "socio-economic transformation policies" aimed against white South Africans?

We did not agree to the NDR during the constitutional negotiations; it is irreconcilable with the Constitution; we, who are its intended victims, have not been consulted; and we do not accept it. So I repeat: the time has come for serious talks between the Government and all those who are targeted by its version of transformation.

By FW de Klerk
An edited version of this article was first published in Business Day, 14 March 2014

Photo credit: GovernmentZA / Foter / CC BY-ND