Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Professor Pierre de Vos,

You are a law  professor  of note, heading the law faculty of the University of Cape Town, probably our leading University in South Africa.

You are also routinely consulted by the media on legal matters and especially issues of social justice. There can be no doubt that you are regarded as a "rock of sense" and a "fountain of wisdom",  apart  from being a very competent legal resource to the nation.

All this is confirmed by your blog site which is a "must read" for most members of the legal profession.
Given this most impressive profile it came as a real shock to me when you  reacted  to a pitch I made to you on the now vexed issue of social justice in South Africa. The pitch was simple enough. It comprises the two (2) images accompanied by my text submission that South Africa had wrongly adopted what was represented in the first image,  whereas  it should  have  what was  represented  in the second (on the right).

Your reaction was -  "Please do not spam me with your reactionary  drivel".

Not to put to fine a point on it this  reaction can only be described as highly  contemptuous and insulting on all counts.  Not only does it say that my stance has no merit, worthy of any consideration, it  also  categorizes  me as what is known, in common parlance, as a "mindless dick head."  I was shocked through and through, and still am.

I  received  my  legal  tutoring from Professor Richard Christie,  internationally  recognized as the lead expert in  Roman  Dutch law of Contract. He taught me that the only proposition that cannot be challenged in  law  was that all propositions are susceptible to challenge, as law is not fixed and immutable. For this reason outright intolerance to any legal proposition was out, especially  as regards human rights.

However, faced with a  proposition, challenging the status quo as regards the vexed issue of social justice in South Africa, you were disdainfully dismissive and insulting. 

It is  pertinent  to point out that I have served the cause of justice in the Courts for over 35 years,  including  as a High Court Judge in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. My record as regards number of judgments  reported in the Law  reports for the time served is probably unmatchable in  this  region.  However, according to you, my stance is "reactionary  drivel".

Is it?  I don't think so ... not on the objective facts.

Now in the just heard case in brought on behalf of police captain Renate Barnard, who was twice denied promotion, because of her race, the Court set it face  against  a race based approach.
The judgment, written by Judge Mohammed Navsa, states that, though the Act is an attempt to create a non-racial and balanced society, 'it feels like a throwback to the grand apartheid design' and race  classification" ... i.e., precisely the point my first image graphically claims to illustrate.

In the circumstances, in this landmark case on affirmative action, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Thursday struck down the use of racial quotas in determining job appointments, finding that it was unfair to attempt to achieve employment equity through the employment of a race based numerical formula.

Judge Navsa therfore was constrained to say - 'If we are to achieve success as a nation, each of us has to bear in mind that, wherever we are located, it will take a continuous and earnest commitment to forge a future that is colour-blind". 

It is  pertinent  to point out that this was second  case  in  which the Superior Courts found the current transformational approach wrong for being race based. In a recent earlier case the court found in  favour  of Coloured Correctional Services officers on a similar basis.

The poster on the left proves that the current model is self  evidently  racist and  immoral  for being an exact crib of apartheid  culture. it is also patently absurd in that, for instance, a multi billionaire like Tokyo Sexwale is presumed to be disadvantaged and MUST be favored at the expense of a poverty ridden 25 year old White who had nothing to do with  apartheid.

The poster on the right  addressee  the problem of social justice without the racism, immorality and absurdity. It also serves to exclude the fat cats trading on their "blackness", that is now apparently pandemic.

There can be not the slightest doubt that my stance is fully vindicated. At the very  least  I was making a valid point that a race based approach harking back to  apartheid  culture was, at the very,  least  highly  problematical.

Given the position you hold as Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance and teaching in the area of Constitutional Law, and your public stature in South Africa it is very worrisome that you appear  oblivious  to an issue of human  rights  and social justice that is  staring  you in the face.

Your displayed  intolerance  to what has turned out to be a valid human  rights  submission is even more worrisome.

"A university is a place in which you are supposed to feel uncomfortable as your views are tested and challenged by other views ... But being educated means that you allow for the possibility that you might be wrong ... A university is not a place where you throw tantrums in public, or storm out of lectures on topics you do not like, or hurl insults at ideas that clash with your own..."  Prof Jonathan Jansen "It's Right To Be Wrong".
This is so, especially as it is a harsh reality that the current model has simply not worked.  The gap between rich and poor is one of the highest in the World.  The apartheid legacy of entrenched social injustice subsists.

What the current model ensures is -
a) that the issue of race, ethnicity and skin tone will remain in the forefront of the public psyche; 
b) that the Black majority will have a sense of grievance against the White minority maintained in their emotional intelligence;
c) that the incoming generation of young and growing South Africans will be infused with the notion that "Black good; White bad; Coloured/Indian/Chinese not too good/bad";
d) that the above will guarantee a new sense of alienation and grievance on the part of the ethnic minority groups;
e) that, in all these circumstances, nation building will have no chance of even being conceived  and South Africa will remain  a country in which race, ethnicity and skin tone are determinants of rights and privileges.
In this way, you and yours, are active participants in building a future socio economic model in which the great notion of a colour/race/ethnic blind society will be more or less as elusive as it was under apartheid. 
So the country has just witnessed quite a spectacular instance of how this racist mentality is pandemic, and able to scupper the very noble intentions of two great human beings, Dr  Mamphela Ramphele of Agang and Helen Zille of the Democratic Alliance because, as Dr Mamphela correctly observed, "the country is still trapped in race based politics".

PS: Jan-Feb 2017 sees another saga of murderous xenophobic attacks on Somali small business traders in particular.
My pleas go unheeded.

Free counters!