SUPPORT: DA leader Helen Zille with supporters at the party's federal congress in Boksburg on Sunday. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
SUPPORT: DA leader Helen Zille with supporters at the party's federal congress in Boksburg. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

FOLLOWING the Democratic Alliance (DA) conference and the well manufactured messaging around a party that supposedly doesn’t see race, I reflected on my upbringing to assess whether or not I have become a failing of nonracialism.

Throughout childhood I have had engagements with white people, and although I have experienced racism and hatred, the lasting emotion or memory is that of love and respect.

Having a white aunt who has genuinely cared for me, I am motivated by the idea of a nonracial society where many South Africans can enjoy relationships built on character and not colour.

But I am highly realistic about how this society can be created. I do hold the view that nothing great has ever come to be as a result of pretending that impediments don’t exist.

Dr King’s famous dream was in itself an acknowledgment of everything America wasn’t, and should be. It was an acknowledgment of the problem.

What I have enjoyed most from my "white" relationships was never feeling the need to shy away from my blackness, the social injustice that happened and its lingering legacy.

I have held the view that socioeconomic focus needs to be given to the black citizens of our population.

I hold this view without an acrimonious view of our fellow white South Africans. The reality is that a systematic institution excluded the black population from any form of development, and within the new South Africa a conditioned culture engineered to favour white people still exists.

The denial of our race issues by black DA members is a cowardly betrayal of their black identity.

To say proudly that the DA doesn’t see race is a disingenuous rejection of reality. One only needs to make a personal survey of the Western Cape to note this disjuncture. So while DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane doesn’t see race, the province the DA governs seems to have 40/40 vision on race. Farm workers are black and coloured, farmers are white, Camps Bay dwellers are white and township inhabitants are black. The rich are white and the poor are black.

Perhaps the fear of acknowledging the problem comes with the greater fear of having to do something about it. I mean systematically intending to empower black folk.

The black members of the DA must acknowledge the problems that plague them without acknowledging the overt pattern which is their race. This is primarily because the yardstick for the DA’s leadership on black members are those that share similar ideas to Mr Maimane’s misleading comments.

The DA’s measuring tape of black members is subject to whether or not they have a chip on their shoulder, and of course a chip on their shoulder is defined as displeasure about your history, and a stern sense of your black identity.

You must, to soar as high as DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, be a colourless character, one with no race and one who pretends not to see race.

Such a sad state reminds me of WEB Du Bois who said: "It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

Until the DA acknowledges the disadvantages of black South Africans and agrees to adopt a realistic plan to develop black people, they will never create a genuine home for black people.

Mayihlome Tshwete

Tshwane