South Africa 20.3.2017 12:34 pm

What did Singapore teach you about racism, Helen, asks confused Ndlozi

FILE PICTURE: Mbuyiseni Ndlozi from the EFF. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

FILE PICTURE: Mbuyiseni Ndlozi from the EFF. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The Western Cape premier has explained some of her thinking around colonialism, but not everyone seems to get it.

Amid ongoing reaction to a tweet by Western Cape premier Helen Zille and a Daily Maverick column she wrote on Monday, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi admitted he was confused.

He wrote on Twitter in reaction to her Daily Maverick column about her trip to Singapore that he had no idea how she could be linking “state-led development in Singapore to what he alleged was Zille preaching racism in saying that “aspects of colonialism were good”.

Like South Africa, Singapore was colonised by the British. Today, the city state is one of the most successful economic powerhouses in Asia.

In her column, Zille explains how this happened through the “father of Singapore” Lee Kuan Yew’s plan to transform the poverty-ridden state into a mecca of investment, employment and ongoing development.

She writes that instead of bemoaning the state the colonists had left his country in, he decided to build on what they had left behind.

“He combined this with a relentless future focus, uncompromising meritocracy, zero tolerance for corruption, and a determination to build on the institutional foundations the colonists had left behind, particularly the English language, the sea port, and the nascent, cash-based trading system,” she writes.

She adds that Lee “toured the world, reassuring the former colonial powers and foreign governments that Singapore would be a safe and profitable investment destination, that it would be an ideal manufacturing and export base, that the corruption-free government would facilitate the alignment of local skills to business needs, encourage a strong work ethic, an outward orientation, and beat the competition through productivity”.

Zille wrote that she had felt inspired by Singaporean society, despite the fact that is it considered “less free” and far more authoritarian than South Africa.

She wrote that, upon her return home, she was confronted by examples of the usual everyday ineptitude that South Africans have become accustomed to.

She then opened her computer at the airport, went through her “e-mail and my Twitter timeline and dispatched a 12-tweet series on lessons from Singapore”, which she said she would not discuss in her column as she may be “facing disciplinary charges in the DA in relation to them”.

She has, however, fired off more tweets about the matter on Monday.

In defence of her tweet that said not everything about the colonial legacy was bad, she also turned in her opinion piece to support from the late Nelson Mandela, who she quoted as writing about missionary schools: “These schools have often been criticised for being colonialist in their attitudes and practices,” said Mandela. “Yet, even with such attitudes, I believe their benefits outweighed their disadvantages.”

Zille then showed concern that the DA may be becoming too much like the ANC.

“While travel broadens the mind, I tend to forget that, on returning to South Africa, it is best to shrink your mind again to fit the contours of political correctness. Especially if you are white. We pay lip service to equal citizenship. In reality, every opinion is judged on the basis of the colour of the person who expresses it. ‘Speaking while white’ is considered the ultimate sin, in terms of the increasingly popular ideology called ‘critical race theory’.

“The real danger is that the DA, in its quest for votes, may start to swallow every tenet, myth and shibboleth of African racial-nationalist propaganda, including the scapegoating of minorities, populist mobilisation and political patronage. Then the institutionalisation of corruption will only be a matter of time.”

Aside from Ndlozi, there has also been a lot of other reaction to her opinion piece. Take a look below:

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