Hosted by Jimmy Ramokgopa, Frbruary 15, 2020
15 February 2020 - Jimmy Ramokgopa
On today’s podcast, we will discuss Apartheid and the science of redress. The idea behind this podcast is to produce logical arguments on whether collectivist policies are necessary or not. We will also unpack the the effects of the Apartheid regime and ask ourselves what corrective steps need to be taken, if any.
In a February 2020 news interview, former president Frederik Willem De Klerk said that, contrary to the pronouncements from the United Nations, Apartheid was not a crime against humanity. It was wrong, but it was not a crime, he says.
Without considering De Klerk’s denial of Apartheid being a crime, the fact that even De Klerk himself recognises that Apartheid was an unjust system, means that we have to ask ourselves “what then?”
If we accept Apartheid as an unjust system, where the black majority were excluded from the economy, what do we then do about it? Do we pretend as if nothing happened and let things be? Or do we actually do something to attend to the specific injustices of Apartheid?
In general, the governing ANC and the official opposition party believe that there should be some sort of redress, following an era of systematic descrimination and marginalisation. However, they differ in the way in which redress should be implemented.
In the global scheme of things, there are actually two main ideologies in the South African political landscape: that is, collectivism and individualism. The centre-right and classical liberals of South Africa are advocates of individualism. They believe in individual rights. They believe that people should be judged as individuals, and in order to do so, policies that group people, such as black empowerment policies, need to be eradicated. These are the likes of Gwen Ngwenya, John Steenhuisen, Helen Zille, etc.
On the other hand, the centre-left and socialists of South Africa are advocates of collectivism. They believe that people should be judged according to the collective circumstances of the particular group which they identify themselves with. These are the likes of ANC policy makers.
Both the collectivists and the individualists are correct in the reasons behind their positions. The individualists argue that collectivist policies have brought nothing but the creation of a minority group of black elites and has further contributed to the inequality gap of South Africa.
This is true. However, the collectivists are also correct in pointing out that the inequality that is present in the first place is a result of the Apartheid regime. They are also correct in saying that if nothing is done to attend to the racial based inequality, it will persist indefinitely. This argument has been exhausted throughout the world, and through many studies, it has been proven to be correct.
The United States of America had Affirmative Action meant to address previous injustices. European countries have also had redress policies, particularly to attend to gender inequality. Like racial inequality, gender inequality is a product of descrimination and marginalisation. In a February 2020 Politricks SA article, Singapore was compared to Sweden, where it was noted that Sweden had actual gender-based laws which resulted in a significantly higher gender equality index. Unsurprisingly, Singapore does not have any gender-based laws. This proved that in order to address an actual injustice, you have to pass an actual policy.
So, why do we need race-based policies in South Africa?
Well, because history happened.
The proportional inequality of South Africa is a product of racial descrimination. And of course, the individualists will argue that race is not a proxy of inequality, but the statistics show that the average black person is at a worse position than the average white or indian person. And yes, this is a generalisation. It’s a general statement. Of course, not all black people are poor and not all white people are well off. But because you cannot have 50 million policies for 50 million individuals, such a generalisation is important and is in fact scientifically acceptable.
But, with that said, I think we can all agree that policies like BEE did not work, but that does not negate the need for policy that considers race. I’ll admit that it’s not easy, but with a little bit of thought, at least some sensible policies can be developed.
Thank you for listening and getting this far. Let me know what you think. See you again next time.
- Jimmy Ramokgopa (@JimmyRamokgopa)
BSc. Engineering (Civil) - University of the Witwatersrand
Businessman - socio-economic and political commentator
Activist - The Collab Movement