Is Mulder racist, or are we?

22 February 2012 - 13:12 By Abdul Milazi

Deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Pieter Mulder's statement that Africans have no claim to 40% of South Africa has many politically correct people baying for his blood.

Whether he is fit to be in the ANC government or not is not a question for me, but only the ANC knows its reasons for appointing him, which I am sure has nothing to do with many of us non-members.

Let’s forget Peter Mulder’s statement for a while and look at the issue of land redistribution for what it is. Now that Mulder started the debate, let us not silence it by attacking him and so divert attention from the issue itself.

This is how we have treated controversial debates since attaining our political correctness in 1994, and this should stop if we are to move towards one future and one nation.

We cannot gloss over issues or divert attention by shouting ‘racist’ every time someone raises a thorny issue we are uncomfortable with. We should be earnestly relooking at the issue and not playing the man.

There are lots of questions about the land restitution programme and the concept itself that have not been asked because we want to be politically correct. After the people are given back the land they have claimed, they always come back to the cities to find work, hence the mushrooming squatter camps.

Victims of the apartheid regime’s forced removals cannot be taken back where they were removed because it means this government must also forcefully remove people currently residing there. The alternative is the government gives them money as compensation, but that doesn’t not solve the land issue.

Buying farms from whites for resettlement is assuming that the blacks being resettled there actually desire to be commercial farmers. Reports on redistributed farms have been that more than 80% of them are lying idle and farm equipment rusts away. People living on these farms are now engaged in subsistence farming (only planting enough for their families to eat).

This brings up the issue of national food security, but I assume the government has thought about this. I think needed enough time and thought, which should have included economic considerations as well, not just political.

Zimbabwe went the political route without economic considerations and its population, and not leaders, are paying the price now. I believe there is always more than one solution to any given problem.

There are many things we have done wrong purely because of our propensity to always look for political solutions to everything. We have introduced ‘education for dummies’ in the OBE system, which by the way failed in the UK where it originated. We are churning out high school pupils who cannot think, read or conduct a simple research by themselves. But I digress.

We need to get it into our thick politically correct skulls that the best way to redress past mistakes is by creating a better future for all, and not by literally attempting to undo the past. Undoing the past is an exercise in futility.

Mandela made us believe in a brighter future as one nation and not as a black nation which accommodates whites. Yes we have racists on both sides, but our reaction to something this insignificant makes us the racists and not the person we accuse of making a the racial statement.

I am not defending Mulder, but voicing my disgust at the national reaction to his statement. The strong national intolerance to tactless statements makes us a nation useful only as fertiliser, because by our very reaction we prove ourselves to be of an inferior intelligence (if ever there was something like an inferior intelligence) than the people we criticise. As we all have a constitutional right to be wrong (wittingly or unwittingly), so does Mulder.

Whether Mulder's historical facts were right or wrong, it doesn't change the fact that a lot of injustices were committed under apartheid. Whether Mulder's historical facts were right or wrong, it doesn't change the fact that the land restitution process has not been handled well.

So the whole argument over his statement being racist or not is actually a moot point. Mulder has a right to hold a view of his own, and if he disagrees with the ANC government policy position on land restitution, then the ANC erred in giving him a position in its government. But that's an ANC problem, not ours.

In terms of accuracy of his facts, well, he got them from the history books. I still remember the information Mulder used to make his point, from my Grade 9 school history books. So the man didn't make the information up, save for his proclaiming that the Khoi and the San are not Black. I would have never imagined that they were anything but two of Africa's hundreds, if not thousands, of tribes.