Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Dangerous Third Generation

FF+ leader says Malema and others don't feel bound by the new SA's founding settlement

Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader, prepared speech in the Appropriation debate: 

The Presidency (Mr. Zuma), 

June 14 2011

Mr. Speaker

The Hon. President referred to social cohesion. This week it is also the ANC Youth League's Conference where they will elect new leaders.

The Albertina Sisulu funeral posters read: "Albertina Sisulu: Nation Builder and selfless leader."

Can you imagine a poster of Mr. Malema, reading: "Julius Malema: Nation Builder and selfless leader?"

What is the difference then between Mrs. Sisulu and Mr. Malema?

Mrs. Sisulu was a first generation political leader following the 1994 political settlement. In her speeches and actions she emphasized nation building and reconciliation.

Mr. Malema is a third generation political leader after the 1994 political settlement.  I have never heard Mr. Malema emphasizing nation building or reconciliation.

Are we not giving too much attention to Mr. Malema? Why must we take notice of his statements in a debate like this? Because there are more than enough examples in the world of how populist leaders had soured relations between groups through irresponsible comments that eventually lead to conflict, violence and even civil war.

In Cyprus the Greeks and the Turks reached a political settlement that seemed to permanently solve the conflict between the two groups. In the sixties the settlement failed and ended in serious violence.

In Lebanon the Muslims and Christians reached a political settlement that seemed to permanently solve the conflict between the two groups. In the seventies the settlement failed and ended in a lengthy fifteen year violent civil war. (From 1975 to 1990)

What lessons must we learn from this?

The main question is: When does a political settlement, reached between various groups, fail?

Any political settlement comes under great pressure when the third (or fourth) generation political leaders following such a settlement, start getting power. Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, de Klerk and Constand Viljoen were the first generation political leaders that negotiated a settlement. To reach a settlement they had to compromise and find common ground between the interests of their specific supporter groups.

The second generation leaders are Mbeki and Zuma, Tony Leon and Mulder. As second generation leaders we were part of or witnesses to the initial negotiations. As leaders fighting elections we are under pressure from our various power bases, to promote our supporters interest alone. The challenge is to keep a balance between the interests of your power base and the general interest of South Africa.

The third generation political leaders are the Malema's of today - hoping to be in power tomorrow. You find them in all political parties and on all sides of the political spectrum. They do not feel bound by the original settlement because they were not part of it. The general interest of all South Africans is not their priority as they prefer to only play to their own audiences with radical statements.

Julius Malema is a good example of this. When I listen to the ANC Youth League and Malema, they irresponsibly propagate nothing else but camouflaged revenge of blacks on whites

The alarming part of this is that they get huge applause at public meetings for this.

In Kimberley Malema said that all whites in South Africa are criminals. I checked up on that statement. There is no doubt what he said.

Does he have the faintest idea what anger and resentment this causes? Especially as it is seen against the background of the song "Kill the Boer" that is associated with him.

I know the ANC arguments of their struggle songs and history and of apartheid being declared a crime - but this does not change the emotions and polarisation I experience everyday in reaction to these statements. 

Is it a crisis? Yes, if these problems are ignored it becomes a crisis, permanently bedevilling all relations between South Africans. When leaders like myself and the president  do not react to these statements it creates a climate within which these young people act in a racist way and believe that it carries the required approval. Once these views become the views of the majority of people then we are in a Cyprus or Lebanon crisis situation.

Are there not radical opinions in all communities?

Yes. One example: Since the sixties there have been intense media efforts to combat racism in the USA. In spite of this, some of the worst racists are found in the USA. You will find them in Washington and in London. But you also find them in Soweto and in Cape Town. Ask me. I have tried to talk to such people in Washington and Soweto. But in a normal society it is always a minority viewpoint. (A minority viewpoint that should not be given prominent status.)

When is a community in trouble?

A community is in trouble when these radical minority viewpoints become the viewpoints of the majority of the community. This is where we are today.

In a reconciliatory climate both sides can acknowledge mistakes and make concessions. In a climate of accusations groups move away from each other and harden their viewpoints. All of this inevitably leads to greater polarization. In such a climate each side automatically emphasize the more radical viewpoints. We are there at this moment.

An Indian chief said about good and evil, that there are two dogs fighting inside of him. One dog that spurs him on to do good things and one that spurs him on to do bad things.

To the question as to which dog wins, he said: The one that I feed the most. At present the wrong dog is busy winning in South Africa.

Issued by the Freedom Front Plus, June 14 2011
Dr. Pieter Mulder

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