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The unbearable privilege of being Adriaan Basson

A response to his latest column.

Courtesy of Dr Voetsek

Tony Leon just released a new book called Future Tense. I have read this book during the weekend, finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it. To publicise his book, News24 interviewed Leon on his latest work’s themes and predictions. 

In the interview, Leon calls white privilege “absolute garbage” and is quoted as calling Mmusi Maimane “a failed experiment.” I can’t disagree with either claim. But someone felt compelled to write an entire column on the first claim. 

Adrian Basson, the editor of News24, by far the most significant news platform in this country, released said column on Monday this week.

Our neighbouring country is fighting Islamic fundamentalism. Black farmers are being kicked off their land, and EWC is around the corner.

However, if you work at News24, you have to pick fights with ex-politicians and criticise white people.

Adriaan was very disappointed to read in the interview that Tony Leon considers the concept of white privilege to be absolute garbage. He also explains how heartbroken he was to learn that the DA is blaming BEE and employment equity policies for corruption and state capture.

According to Adriaan, the policies are lovely, and the Constitution is world-class; it’s just how we implement those policies that matter. Adriaan further says that corrupt people or companies are not corrupt because they’re black; they are corrupt because they are corrupt.  

No one said that only black people are corrupt. To deduce this from the claim that BEE is a catalyst for corruption is a vile strawman at best. It is overtly evident that empowerment policies and cadre deployment have overwhelmed any semblance of a capable state. 

The ANC rules based on the National Democratic Revolution, which has three critical points:

1) The ANC must exercise hegemonic control over all institutions in South Africa.

2) The ANC must extend this control over society and the economy.

3) To achieve the above, loyal cadres must be deployed to positions of influence in all centres of power

In achieving the NDR, cadre deployment is vital in gaining political hegemony over the public institutions, while BEE achieves this political hegemony in the private sector. To argue against this notion is dismissing the reams of policy that Luthuli House spits out every year. For a fuller understanding of the NDR, I will defer to its prime intellectual, Joel Netshitenzhe.

Denying that the NDR and its policies are the primary causes of state failure and capture is a failure to understand the ruling party’s fundamental governing ideology.

The DA (and Tony Leon) is correct to infer that state capture has been on the cards for decades by leveraging ‘transformation’ policies – the evidence for such a claim is overwhelming. I can recommend James Myburgh’s crucial work, The Last Jacobins of Africa, in this regard.

To explain why white privilege is not “utter garbage”, Adriaan details his weekend getaway and his attempt to explain to his children why all the nannies and gardeners are black. Per his logic, because most labourers in South Africa are black, white privilege exists, signified by our segregated past.

I don’t see the argument here. We know why black people are labourers in South Africa. It is definitely due to our past. It is also due to the inability of the democratic dispensation to reverse the trends of the past. We’ve had 27 years of the worst education globally, a declining economy and a government that has hollowed out most state capabilities. 

If all white people disappear tomorrow, and all the resources are distributed to everyone else, what will happen? Nothing. But suppose we have a change of government, who has pro-growth policies, cares deeply about the education system, ends load shedding, and does various other things that help South Africa’s people. That will have a more direct effect on the livelihoods and lives of South Africans than anything white people can do. 

White South Africans do not feature politically in this country. They’re less than ten per cent of the population and hold no political, cultural or economic power of any significance. To elevate them into a privileged position is absurd unless one believes in an odious ideology that wants to promote ‘national demographics’ as a metric for transformation.

If white privilege was as crucial as Adriaan claims, one wonders why he holds on to such an important position as editor of News24? Surely he must give up this privileged position and give it to someone with less privilege? Skin in the game is vital when making claims – otherwise, lesser charitable commentators may claim hypocrisy.

If you drive across this country and talk to South Africans, they want the same thing. They want economic growth, jobs, an end to crime, better education for their children, and the list goes on.

White people are not depriving them of that, and white people can’t give them that either. They want all those things because they don’t have jobs, decent education or safety. Why? Because of the capture of the state through cadre deployment and BEE. 

Roman Cabanac

Roman Cabanac

Founder & Managing Director of The Morning Shot. South African conservative political commentator and media host.

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