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Wed Aug 31 04:23:36 SAST 2016

Election posturing will not rid us of bigotry and racism

The Times Editorial | 06 January, 2016 00:39

The politicians have jumped on the bandwagon, trumpeting their determination to fight racism at all levels, but as usual they are missing the point.

They think that by rushing to police stations to prefer criminal charges against those who glorify apartheid, and by getting anti-racist legislation through parliament, our streets will be rid of racists.

What South Africa needs today is not new laws but programmes that tackle the conditions that breed racism. We need projects that will be driven by communities and that will ultimately change the face of our society.

Short-term projects designed to serve a political party's election profile will be of no use to the country as a whole while the real problems persist unabated.

What our politicians do best is seize the moment and use it to advance their narrow political agenda.

Although we support every initiative to rid this country of racism and all its tendencies, we should not lose focus and allow self-serving initiatives to take centre stage.

If we are to legislate against racism, then we should also be eager to legislate against those who mismanage our public institutions and, in doing so, perpetuate economic inequality.

We should have the zeal to hold public protests and night vigils at the offices of the most egregious economic saboteurs.

We cannot be driven into a corner by those who seek temporary glory and headlines but are unwilling or unable to change the economic structures that give rise to racism and inequality in this country.

We caution the public against political stunts aimed at winning votes.

Racism in this country is economic and structural, and most of its victims are black.

What stops the ANC from using its electoral mandate to radically transform our society?

Those in charge of our public purse have a duty to change the economic landscape and scorn short-term measures proposed merely because elections are approaching.

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