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Trump Should Be Emboldening The EFF In South Africa, Not White Minority Rights Campaigners

20/11/2016 17:54 SAST | Updated 20/11/2016 22:22 SAST
Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders Julius Malema, Dali Mpofu and Floyd Shivambu greet supporters during the party'€™s final local government election rally at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on July 31, 2016 in Polokwane.

The white right in South Africa simply doesn't get it. If any South African grouping has reason to crow and gloat after the Donald Trump victory, it would be Julius Malema's EFF, not white minority rights campaigners.

The Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum and assorted right wing and even conservative personalities and commentators have celebrated Trump's election as a global victory over the "left" and the "liberals"; as a fat middle finger to the status quo, the establishment and to globalisation.

I suspect their analysis of the dynamics in the US is really shallow. Or perhaps what they're really celebrating is the rise of bigotry, ethnic chauvinism, machismo and intolerance.

Of course this appeals to white right wingers, but how could it be in their interest if these were applied in South Africa?

Trump represents the white majority in America; blue collar and uneducated white men were his single biggest constituency. He targeted minority groups; the "others", like Latinos and Muslims, during his turbulent election campaign. Several of his first senior appointments in his office and cabinet have a record of making racist comments.

White South Africans form about 8 percent of South Africa's population. A little over half that are white Afrikaners.

In South Africa, they are the "others", the unwanted – in the words of Julius Malema last week, the "visitors".

The last thing they should want, is the ethnic mobilisation of the majority in South Africa that Malema and others are working towards.

Afrikaners and other whites should fear the rise of bigotry, ethnic chauvinism and intolerance, because they would be the first victims.

Afrikaners and other whites should fear the rise of bigotry, ethnic chauvinism and intolerance, because they would be the first victims.

In fact, when Malema was in full flight during rallies after his two court appearances last week, he was pure populist Donald Trump, unashamedly and recklessly targeting the white and Afrikaner minorities, setting them up as a common enemy to the black majority.

Part of the reason for Trump's stunning victory was his solid support in the Rust Belt, the northeastern and midwestern regions that had been traumatised by sharply declining industries and massive unemployment.

These people, most of them without tertiary education, demanded a decent life, decent jobs and a restoring of their dignity. They felt powerless and marginalised.

They and other resentful white lower middle class Americans were so desperate, they were even prepared to ignore the fact that Trump was an habitual liar, a cheat, a misogynist and an unstable narcissist.

Millions of black South Africans are deeply resentful that they're unemployed and still don't have a decent quality of life. They feel more powerless and marginalized than even the blue-collar workers in white America. A black Trump would really appeal to them.

The white right in South Africa is also wildly excited about the rise of right wing nationalists in Europe. Trawling through right wing South African websites, one sees enthusiastic admiration for Jean-Marie le Pen of France's National Front, Norbert Hofer of Austria's Freedom Party, Nigel Farage' of Britain's UKIP and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Partij voor de Vrijheid.

Again, all these politicians are xenophobic and spend their time and energy to mobilise the ethnic majority in their countries at the expense of the freedoms and rights of minorities. Most of them share a hostility towards media freedom with Trump.

Militant black African nationalists in South Africa show similar tendencies.

How could this be in the interest of AfriForum and Co and their white constituency if applied in South Africa?

When I talk to right wingers and point out all their contradictions and misunderstandings, they normally end up expressing the hope of some form of ethnic autonomy and self-rule and talk about the Kurds, the Basques, the Catalans and the Flemish.

As they say in the classics: dream on, white boy, it simply ain't gonna happen. Not in South Africa in the first half of the 21st century.

Of course it is reasonable and acceptable for groups like AfriForum to set themselves up as guard dogs over the rights of minorities. It is how you go about it that matters.

The present South African constitution with its Bill of Rights and the prevailing climate of relative tolerance is the best deal white South Africans will ever get.

If they want to maintain that position, they should be more strategic, less insensitive and threatening and they should be seen to be concerned about inequality, poverty and racism.

Crowing about Donald Trump just showcases their ignorance and their bad side.