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Know Your DA insults blacks

“For the past 30 years we fought against apartheid law tabled in parliament.” This, among others, is a tagline from the Democratic Alliance’s perfidious “Know Your DA” campaign. “Know Your DA” is the DA’s kick-starter campaign for 2014 general election. The campaign was launched in January by the DA Leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in Umzimkhulu in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Zille has explained that the purpose of the campaign is to tell the “untold story” of the DA. This “untold story” is that “The Democratic Alliance was and remains part of South Africa’s struggle for freedom”.

While a few poster-child blacks have responded fervently to the supposedly secret history of the liberation of South Africa, many black people (like me) are in shock and utter disgust.

The reason for our disgust is not, as many believe, because we think we have a monopoly over the legacy of the liberation movement or even its heroes. We acknowledge all those who contributed to our liberation, whatever their contributions.

We also acknowledge that many other movements existed simultaneously with the liberation movement. There were movements for multiracialism or non-racialism or liberalism or whatever. These were “struggles” of preference, or social or economic necessity. These were “struggles” of choice.

The liberation movement on the other hand was a struggle for the emancipation of black folks. It started more than a half-century before apartheid. This was the struggle of Bambatha kaMancinza, the struggle of Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and many others. It was this struggle which gave birth to the ANC in 1912.

The liberation movement, which intensified after the institutionalisation of black oppression in 1948, was not just a struggle for recognition, but for the respect of humanity and inherent dignity. It was a struggle for blacks to retain their citizenship in the land of their forefathers.

What Zille and the likes misunderstand is that apartheid was not just a Minotaur that blacks had to slay to exit the labyrinth of poverty and suffering. For black folks, apartheid was not a failed exercise or policy gone wrong. Apartheid was the intensification a ghastly reality that had battered blacks for centuries.

For Helen Suzman, politics was her chosen career, not freedom fighting. She had the choice to quit her job as university lecturer and to become career politician, as it was Helen Zille’s choice to become a journalist. Further, both Helens were beneficiaries of the system which oppressed blacks and neither of them denounced those benefits.

The Rivonia Trialists didn’t choose to be prisoners at Robben Island. They didn’t choose to become “freedom fighters”. They were freedom fighters by virtue of being born. Their only other option would have been to accept that they were sub-human. Any black person alive in South Africa who wanted their humanity, dignity and equality, was a freedom fighter.

Freedom fighters did not cherry-pick the system. They did not accept some parts of the system and reject some simply because it was fashionable to do so. When the apartheid government gave Mandela and others limited citizenship by handing them passes, they denounced such a “benefit” and set those passes on fire.

What the DA must understand is that blacks are not naive. We don’t secretly believe that black people or the ANC alone slew apartheid. Blacks acknowledged the role played by all races in the demise of apartheid when our leaders the signed Constitution. The Constitution is now the foundation that anchors our democratic state. It is the stone on which our values are cast.

The Constitution was not a mistake. It inscribes the values that have long been part of the liberation movement’s foundation. These values were first realised in the Freedom Charter in 1955, in the ANC’s “Bill of Rights for a New South Africa” and later in the 34 Constitutional Principles, which formed the backbone of the Constitution of the Republic.

According to Helen Zille: “Not many people know that the Constitution that emerged from the Codesa negotiations has its roots in the Molteno Commission set up by the Progressive Party back in 1961. We recommended a national convention, an entrenched Constitution, a bill of rights, a common voters’ roll, a clearly defined role for the provinces and an independent judiciary.”

This is a lie and an affront on the soldiers of the liberation movement who died from oppression between 1961 and 1994.

The DA says that South Africans fear that if it came into power, it would bring back apartheid. Yet the DA is in power in the Western Cape! So then, how is the Western Cape different from the rest of South Africa? Are all parts of the country afraid of the DA except the Western Cape?

A more fundamental question, what about all the victims and children of victims of apartheid who vote DA? Is it because they are smarter than the rest and they alone know the correct history of South Africa.

The fact is that the Know Your DA campaign seeks to mislead South Africans. It makes a mockery of sacrifice. Suddenly, Helen Suzman’s stroll to visit Robben Island or Helen Zille’s newspaper article is the same as Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in a 4X6 cell. The Know Your DA campaign is insulting.



  1. Stephen Stephen 11 June 2013

    “A more fundamental question, what about all the victims and children of victims of apartheid who vote DA?”

    Another fundamental question, what about all the victims and children of crime and poverty who vote for the DA? Surely they could only be better off? That the same people who suffered in poverty under apartheid are worse off now under this regime is morally reprehensible.

  2. OneFlew OneFlew 11 June 2013

    I think you’re wrong at a few levels. Google ‘fallacy of the excluded middle’.

    Broadly, we either all have lots of choices or none of us have any. That is just the human condition.

    And I actually find your argument deeply insulting to black South Africans.

    ‘Any black person alive in South Africa who wanted their humanity, dignity and equality, was a freedom fighter.’ What does that make every black person – the vast majority – who did not become ‘freedom fighters by virtue of being born’, like the Rivonia trialists, but who simply endured and tried to make the best of their lives like people everywhere? Was this majority not interested in their own humanity and dignity?

    This sort of divisive polemical nonsense must surely be deeply unhelpful to South Africa’s cause.

  3. Ouch Ouch 11 June 2013

    Brad, are there members of the ANC that are benefiting way out of proportion to their talents in business because they are black and members of the ANC? Aren’t they cherry-picking while the economy slides backwards ? Most opposers of apartheid/oppressive forces can’t claim to be Mandela or Ghandi, including members of the ANC and other movements. What is wrong with reminding people that the DA was a liberation party too & still is!!? Wasn’t Oscar Schindler entitled to some acknowledgement?

    Your use of royalty in your argument takes the cake. Heavens, if that whole system isn’t one of “apartheid” !?!… A holy cow in some circles but to the outsiders a stupid privileged system that has no place in a democratic society. Did any of those kings live like commoners while they fought their fights? Did they reflect on their own position of artificial violently protected privilege (like Helen Suzman and Helen Zille did) and oppose the system from within. I don’t think so!!!

    A turning point was the last white referendum. That was a key point towards a peaceful settlement. The presence of the DA was very important in that over 60 percent voted for transformation. Clearly many ex-NPs switched to their camp.

    My view is that the DA is pointing out that the present ANC cannot harp on its’ historical credentials as the only moral high ground. Others also acted, and are viable leadership alternatives – especially as the ANC shows signs of more corruption and nepotism.

  4. Wow Wow 11 June 2013

    I think the author is overthinking this story a bit too much. I also would like to know that if the blacks acknowledged the entire “team” that fought apartheid, why were there constant battles with the IFP, and why when the IFP initially gained control of eThekwini were the funds allocated to it by national government low in comparison to ANC led governments. Only after the ANC took control of eThekwini did we see funneling of more money for big projects and upgrades. Remember folks, you have to keep your opposition looking bad.

    So even as the author writes this, you can see that the ANC is very selective about who is black enough and who is eligible to reap the rewards of achieving democracy.

    So maybe the entire white population didnt descend down into the trenches to assist, but the founding fathers of what is now the DA did there bit. As an example, if David Klatzow didnt defend black people against fixed court cases there wouldve been a lot more hangings or illegal imprisonment.

    But he’s white, and even though I dont know if he votes DA, he is white and must be an enemy of the black nation.


  5. Nadenker Nadenker 11 June 2013

    “While a few poster-child blacks have responded fervently … many black people (like me) …”

    “Poster-child blacks”? Black people like you? In essence, it would appear, your worldview is still dominated by a “black” versus “white” reality. What a pity you cannot grow out of it.

    You, like so many people, are but slaves of typical human cognitive errors, like:

    – Our tendency to see what we expect to see.
    Evidence: “What the DA must understand is that blacks are not naive.”
    Meaning: That “white party” thinks that “we black people” are stupid. (Yeah, I’m sure Lindiwe will have a lot to day about that.)

    – Our tendency to see what we want to see.
    Evidence: “The fact is that the Know Your DA campaign seeks to mislead South Africans.”
    Meaning: That “white party” does not do history right. (Is your piece not just another glorification of self-righteous black victimhood?)

  6. GD GD 11 June 2013

    You raise very interesting – and fair – points about the origins of the black liberation struggle.

    However, I would like to take issue part of it.

    Your argument that the two Helens should have denounced their so-called Apartheid benefits (education and otherwise) is contrived and ill-founded.

    Firstly, what would it have helped anyone if they did denounce their “benefits”? Do you prefer that they should NOT have had a good education which they could use to fight alongside blacks for collective freedom?

    Secondly, you do not make the same demand for denunciation of benefits of the Rivonia trial members. You must be aware that Mandela also received benefits and schooling from the system (he became a lawyer through studies at UNISA and Uni of Witwatersrand). Why did you neglect to mention this?

    In general, I find the general tone of your piece to be ungrateful towards your partners in struggle, which is short-sighted and unlogical.

    If you feel that tribal nationalism is the only legitimate concern and sole province of blacks, don’t judge other groups for trying to promote their interests in the same way (e.g. white nationalism). Or is this a case of “they did it, so we should be allowed too, and don’t complain”? Surely you must realise that approach of exclusivity and supremacy did not turn out well for any racial group in the end, and yet you seem to prefer it. This makes me doubt the wisdom and intellectual honesty of your article.

  7. GD GD 11 June 2013

    Also, for an expert on the black liberation struggle, you play fast and loose with the facts of its heroes: Mandela did NOT spend 27 years on Robben Island – only 18, and the rest in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons. This convenient inflation does not lead me to trust you, but then I suppose critical people are not your target audience.

    As for your allegation that Helen Zille is lying about the origins of the Constitution and the contributions of the the Progressive Party, kindly give clear statements as to the actual truth. Simply alleging falsehood does not contribute to better understanding of the facts.

    As it is, I get the feeling you are less interested in the facts than in denying opponents and critics of the government and ANC any standing or legitimacy, by whatever means necessary. This approach pollutes the debating atmosphere.

    Do you realise that anyone who has real, factual concerns about the legitimacy of – for example – the DA will have great difficulty getting attention or support from the audience since you poison that side of the debate with poorly-contrived arguments and potentially libellous statements?

    It would be for the general good if you have a look at “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

  8. Mike M Mike M 11 June 2013

    What double speak. the Helen’s can’t claim to have fought apartheid even though they harbored outlaws and publicly fought the architects… but if you happened to be born at that time and black… yup you can call yourself a freedom fighter. Zille is still sacrificing, risking constent threats and dodging dung while those you blanket with freedom fighter status pillege the economy


  9. Momma Cyndi Momma Cyndi 11 June 2013

    Whilst I think the DA campaign is laughable, the fact is that the ANC tries to make itself out to be the ONLY ones who ever fought apartheid. In all honesty, they did very little until the very end. The DA wasn’t even around and the DP didn’t do a whole hell of a lot.

    Brushing off the desire to make society more equal as a ‘choice’ is a bit unfair. It was a choice and a choice of a more difficult path. The average black person didn’t fight apartheid out of ‘choice’ they fought out of necessity. Those ‘freedom fighters’ didn’t really have much to lose by fighting – Suzman did. She wasn’t fighting for her freedom, she was choosing to fight against your shackles. That took courage.

  10. bernpm bernpm 11 June 2013

    `Dear Brad,

    Your profile: “He focuses on international investment and banking law regimes. His blog seeks to incite lucid passions and engage South Africans in debate…..” places this blog well out of your professed focus.

    “His research interests are in the interrelationship between law, economics and politics.”

    According to the other comments, your research on this subject seems to have missed a few fundamental facts. Your personal bias seem to have got in the way of the objectivity required for proper research result.

  11. Alois Alois 11 June 2013

    Is the question of education overblown when we examine the major players in all human rights campaigns? Did Helen Suzman’s education overshadow North American abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s? Did Helen Zille’s privileged life by birth trump the dangerous efforts of slave born Harriet Tubman? And isn’t it a glaring that a man on the run for revealing revealing facts concerning U.S. security policies a non high school graduate, formerly making $200k American dollars a year? Lastly, then, do we need to reevaluate one’s contribution to the march of human rights since it is not impossible for someone of no education to make an invaluable contribution of the well being of all humankind?

  12. Alois Alois 11 June 2013

    “…isn’t it a glaring FACT that…” Thank you, please.

  13. Heinrich Heinrich 11 June 2013

    I suppose the myth of the “freedom fighter” will continue to grow. It is such a nice tidbit for the gullible to swallow.
    And racism is such a pleasant pastime.

  14. Conrad Conrad 12 June 2013

    I think what Brad is saying is that the current ANC are entitled to the corrupt practises, nepotism, crookery, and everything else they are doing.

  15. Brian B Brian B 12 June 2013

    The DA will always struggle to become a dominant force in South Africa.

    The problem is that the ANC will continue being idolized for its role the liberation of of the masses so there is no need to be accountable to the electorate and they can misgovern as they please.

    Perhaps it is time for educated individuals such as yourself to become involved in changing the government from within?

    Perhaps it is more comfortable being part of the neo- liberation bourgeoisie ?

  16. yanga yanga 10 August 2013

    very well said Brad

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