South Africa: White Supremacists accuse blacks of declaring war

Followers of Eugene Terreblanche bring flowers. Jerome Delay/AP

An interesting development out of South Africa where racial tensions have been on the rise.  A white supremacist group is threatening to mete out reprisals after one of their members was set upon and killed over a wage dispute with two of his farm workers.  Apparently, in post apartheid South Africa, like Zimbabwe, millions of blacks chafe under poor economic conditions, while a small coterie of blacks are doing well and a goodly portion of whites retain their privileged economic positions.

Of course, it must be recognized that we’re looking at vestiges of the apartheid system where blacks were kept largely uneducated and in bad conditions as that was what that economic system required.  So, it’s not a shock that black folks remain mired in an economic morass in that country which generates level of resentment.  What is dismaying is the response to those conditions.

In Zimbabwe, the same thing occurred and President Robert Mugabee placated his restive masses by throwing out the white farmers and redistributing the land.   The result was the rapid and complete descent of that country’s economic system into chaos as it became clear that decades of exclusion left black folks ill equipped to run not only the farms but the very economy they were left with.

Ultimately, those who revolt must govern and manage and therein lies the challenge for South Africa and similar countries.  It’s really a question of building the expertise and having the patience to do so as building it won’t occur overnight and while that’s occurring, the vestiges of the old economic order have to remain in place.  That’s tough to accept, but there are few other viable choices in this regard.

In a way, this is really a question of visionary leadership that understands this process is generational even as political control is assumed. That sort of leadership needs to be able to inculcate future leaders that hew to the same view and who adhere to a mission to build from the ashes of a racist and exclusionary past. It can be done.

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