Magazine article The Spectator

Black Fascism

Magazine article The Spectator

Black Fascism

Article excerpt

Cape Town anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of South Africa should pay careful attention to a speech made by President Mbeki at an official funeral in the Eastern Cape on 22 June. Surrounded by powerful black leaders of the new, liberated South Africa, Mbeki gave a eulogy for the departed man and urged the nation to rally behind his dream and to carry on his work. The deceased was the leading black supporter of apartheid, Kaiser Matanzima, the former president of the Transkei 'homeland', Pretoria's ultimate stooge in the days of white minority rule.

The two key figures in the formation of 'Grand Apartheid' were Hendrik Verwoerd and Kaiser Matanzima. Grand Apartheid was a piece of socialist engineering which shoved people around like earth in front of a bulldozer, much in the same way as the schemes of Stalin in the USSR, Pol Pot in Cambodia and Nyerere in Tanzania. The main idea was to push the blacks, who accounted for more than 70 per cent of the South African population, into 'homelands' or 'Bantustans', which made up 13 per cent of the land area. It depended on having compliant black leaders. Chief Buthelezi was not such a man: he bravely and unwaveringly refused 'independence' for the KwaZulu homeland. But Kaiser Matanzima in the Transkei was just such a man, and became a founding father of Grand Apartheid.

Matanzima was not a bloody tyrant on the scale of Idi Amin or Robert Mugabe, but he was a cruel and corrupt despot. Under him, the Transkei gained 'self-government' in 1963, whereupon he gave himself emergency powers of detention without trial and control of public meetings. In 1976 he accepted 'independence' for the Transkei. He oppressed and impoverished his black population while living in luxury himself.

The apartheid government was delighted with him. The Transkei was always Pretoria's prize Bantustan, the jewel of 'separate development'. When I used to argue with apartheid supporters for civil rights for blacks, their answer would invariably be, 'But they've got their own countries. Look at the Transkei!' This fiction was curiously potent for apologists of apartheid, much in the same way as 'There is no unemployment in the USSR' was for communists.

Now the ANC government at its highest level has honoured the supreme black stooge of apartheid. It is as if the liberated Norwegian government had honoured Quisling as a hero of the people.

The praise for Matanzima comes when all the ills in the country are being blamed on 'the legacy of apartheid'. Everyone who criticises or opposes the ANC is accused of being a 'racist' and a closet supporter of apartheid. Chief Buthelezi, despite his record of opposition to apartheid and despite his now being in the ANC government, is still being sniped at for his alleged collusion with apartheid. Above all, the hated white 'liberals', who fought apartheid from beginning to end, are despised. Helen Suzman probably did more to end apartheid than any other single person. For 13 years she stood alone in the South African parliament, taking on the whole apartheid government, forcing it to answer questions about its repression and showing its cruelty to all the world. She is now denounced for having 'legitimised' the apartheid parliament. Helen Suzman, the most effective opponent of apartheid, is reviled. Kaiser Matanzima, its strongest supporter, is praised. What is going on?

There are two answers, ancestral and ideological. The former is more deep-rooted. Beneath the official patterns of power in South Africa are tribal patterns, invisible to most white people. Matanzima is a Xhosa. The Xhosas, about 18 per cent of the South African population, are part of the Nguni grouping which includes Zulus, Swazis and Ndbele. Their traditional home is the Eastern Cape, which incorporates the former Transkei. The Xhosas completely dominate the ANC and account for most of the ministers in the government. They contain a powerful network of ruling families - the 'Xhosa Nostra'. …

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