No‚ Zuma was not worse than Verwoerd. But you have the right to say so

21 June 2018 - 08:00
Former ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus's very public moral failings give him no grounds for rectitude of any kind.
Former ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus's very public moral failings give him no grounds for rectitude of any kind.
Image: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath

For those who do not follow the Afrikaans press‚ you would have missed an interesting debate between North West University’s (NWU) political science professor‚ Theo Venter‚ and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association’s (MKMVA) spokesperson‚ Carl Niehaus.

It goes something like this: Venter makes the claim that the Jacob Zuma period in the presidency was worse than that of apartheid-era presidents and prime ministers going back to 1910. Niehaus loses his cool‚ insisting Zuma was a freedom fighter chosen democratically by the people of South Africa and that by making such a nonsense comparison‚ Venter demonstrates that he is an unrehabilitated racist.

The MKMVA and its allies will demand an inquiry into the conduct of Professor Venter. The management of NWU seems to oblige; there will be an investigation. For days afterwards the debate continues on social media‚ in print and on the airwaves. For many white Afrikaans-speaking South Africans‚ including some with very liberal credentials‚ Theo Venter tells the truth and he should “staan vas” against his critics.

There are all kinds of dilemmas with the terms and substance of this debate.

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