The politicians of South Africa, especially the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) and ANC (African National Congress) place great emphasis on white privilege in South Africa. They preach to the masses how all white South Africans are wealthy and inherited a large trust account and farmland. Their vitriol goes further by claiming that, even if by chance a white person did not inherit all these things, they were inherently privileged by virtue of having a white skin. Whilst it is true that whites did benefit from Apartheid, it certainly is not true that white economic success and the “creation” of South Africa were handed to whites on a silver platter. Moreover, the majority of whites lived simple middle-class lives. It is a myth that white South Africans were guaranteed a university education, the best employment, and a life of luxury during Apartheid.
University education has become a rather large bone of contention over the past year, with universities being torched, disrupted and outright intimidation and violence breaking out amongst students; mostly led by the movement ‘Fees Must Fall’. These Fees Must Fallers do not only want free education, but free lodging, board, internet and, recently, even free sanitary pads.
A university degree has never been a right – not even during Apartheid. You either got into university because your hard work afforded you above-average grades and a bursary, or your parents had saved their whole life to be able to send you there. It was only a small percentage of whites who could afford to send their children to university (much like the small percentage of current black elite). If you did not achieve good grades in school or your parents did not have enough money to send you to university, you quite simply made another plan with your life. Not going to university did not mean you “could not make it in life” – a narrative which these Fees Must Fallers seem to have adopted. If you only achieve a 30% pass rate in your final school year, why on earth would you want to punish yourself by going to university? Would it not be so much better to accept that you are not academically inclined and that maybe a technical vocation, for instance, would be more beneficial to you? Or do these Fees must Fallers purposefully persist as they actually have no clue what to do with their lives and never will – even with the so-called pass to everlasting riches and fame, namely a university degree?
Whenever the topic of poor whites and white squatter camps are brought up you will invariably find a chorus of indignant blacks and their liberal cohorts shouting “But there are way more blacks living in squatter camps!” Statistically that might be true – as the black population is also exponentially larger than whites. It does not take the proverbial rocket scientist to appreciate this. But to deny that whites live in abject poverty and that a large number do in fact languish in squatter camps is an absolute travesty. The reasons why such a large majority of whites live in these conditions are of more importance. Many are there because of the draconian B-BBEE laws passed by the South African government. The B-BBEE law consists of five key elements: Ownership, Management Control, Skills Development, Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development. You, as a business, are given percentage points based on the level of black presence in your company, e.g. the more black owners you have the higher your points; the more you invest in black skill development the higher your points. Even though EME’s (Exempted Micro Enterprises with an annual turnover of less than R10 million) exist, when it comes to applying for state tenders or dealing with other businesses which do business with the state they are still judged on the aforementioned points basis. When a business deals with suppliers which possess high levels of B-BBEE compliance, the first business’s own levels of compliance are automatically increased – according to the self-same points system. One can immediately see the vicious circle this creates and how white workers, managers, and, indeed, owners, are left out of the loop, even though they might be better equipped. It is all about black presence and the more blacks there are, the better your chance of landing a government tender or of doing business with companies that serve the state, or serve companies that serve companies that serve the state, and so on. Keep in mind that white South Africans are the minority in South Africa (~4.5 million out of an estimated 54 million people); therefore, this policy of economic exclusion has a devastating effect on the livelihoods of most middle and working class white families in South Africa. After 1994 many white men (especially) were retrenched to make way for blacks who, in many instances, had little competence for the positions they assumed. This is evident in various ill-managed and/or bankrupt state-owned entities such as Eskom, Post Office, Telkom, South African Airways, and others.
Furthermore, in terms of B-BBEE regulations, businesses have to donate to charities with at least a 75% black beneficiary base in order for them to reap the full points benefits of charitable donations. For example, that means that, if there are too many white orphans in a certain orphanage, it will receive little-to-no corporate funding. Yes, white orphans (who surely do not fall into the category of white privilege) are discriminated against – because they have a white skin. No wonder you see the truly privileged whites (usually of the liberal persuasion) donating to black upliftment and ignoring their white brothers and sisters in need. At the end of the day it is all about money. For the most part, these are the whites who have always been in privileged positions – even during Apartheid – and who have since sold out their less fortunate white brothers and sisters in a bid to save themselves and their privileges. In order to secure their wealth, they kowtow to ANC & liberal rhetoric, display a near-hatred of whites, especially Afrikaner/Boers, and they fervently advocate black rights. It is almost impossible to find a successful white capitalist who does not simultaneously deprecate the past and laud the political values of the present. They are the ones who proverbially throw the suffering of white women, men, and children under the bus to save their own white skins. The harm they inflict on the cause of the white population is immeasurable. They are the Vidkun Quislings, Benedict Arnolds, Mordechai Vanunus, and Judas Iscariots of our time.
They deny the truth because it is an inconvenient truth. They do live in the lap of luxury. They do have a privileged life. They do have everything to lose.
All the while, in the background, white squatter camps are a very sad reality. Sources vary but an assessment of a variety of scholarly investigations reveals that an average of about 600 000 Afrikaner people can be classified as poor, 46% of Afrikaners cannot afford a house worth more than two million Rand, there are approximately 77 white squatter camps in and around Pretoria and, purportedly, up to 430 countrywide, between 1994 and 2005, the number of poor whites increased by 150%, and something like 131000 white families do not have adequate housing.
Not only do these people suffer physical poverty, but they are mentally drained and emotionally insolvent. Imagine the powerless feeling of a father wanting to look after his family and every door being shut in his face – whilst there are cheerleaders who welcome this state of affairs because they ‘deserve it’.
The working and middle class white South African, especially the Boer/Afrikaner people, has only known a life of work. They have spent their life building a future for their children and have always done this by the highest ethics. There was no nepotism or government contracts for them. That has always been in the sphere of the elites. The elites have gone on to thrive, whilst the average white South African is fighting to make a living and stay alive.
White privilege is fiction in that it unfairly generalises towards the majority of white South Africans – just as it would be unfair to say that all blacks now thrive and benefit from the new South Africa because Jacob Zuma and his cronies live in luxury. It is time for every man and woman who honour truth to stand up for the people who have been unfortunate victims of politics and greed. White South Africans have the odds against them. They are fighting to let their voices be heard. Take a moment to listen and then spread the word.
By Lana Lubbe.