Following outgoing Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s resignation on Monday due to “right-wing elements” taking over the Democratic Alliance (DA), a column has been shared on social media, in which Mashaba himself comes across as someone who could be considered to have right-wing views.
“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believes race is irrelevant in a discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa in 2019,” Mashaba said in his resignation speech, adding that he would be gone as Joburg mayor as of November 27.
But a 2015 column has since been shared on social media, in which Mashaba himself argued that race-based policies are a “sickness” and railed against black economic empowerment (BEE), broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), and affirmative action in general.
“Racial policies are the cancer that is directly responsible for these unacceptable levels of unemployment,” Mashaba wrote on Politicsweb at the time.
He expressed the view that these were all “divisive” and “discriminatory” practices and a form of “racism”. Read the full column here.
Mashaba cited the election of Helen Zile as the DA’s new federal council chairperson as his primary reason for stepping down.
“The election of Helen Zille as chairperson of the federal council represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system, and I believe of those of most South Africans of all backgrounds,” he said.
Zille responded by saying that Mashaba was “significantly to the right” of her when the DA took him on, to the point that they almost didn’t do so, as he was almost a “free-market fundamentalist” and didn’t believe in social grants at the time. Mashaba has been the chairperson of the Free Market Foundation.
Former DA and Institute of Race Relations (IRR) employee Gareth van Onselen expressed the opinion that Mashaba’s strong views on race-based policy in 2015 were preferable to his views now, accusing the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of having “polluted his mind”.
“If you want to see how the EFF polluted Herman Mashaba’s mind, just read this 2015 speech of his. Remarkable. He said race-based policy was a cancer; in fact, racial categorisation is racist, he said. Amazing quotes in here. Two entirely different people,” he tweeted.
Van Onselen is among those who have been critical of Mashaba’s close relationship with the EFF in Gauteng, with some in the DA having accused him of pandering to the party.
The EFF agree that they have played a hand in changing the outgoing mayor’s politics, although they believe it’s for the good.
In a statement on Monday, the party said Mashaba turned his back on the “white supremacy and anti-poor policies” that belonged to the DA and he “became more social democratic than even the neoliberal ANC that his coalition government replaced”.
They attributed these changes in Mashaba’s worldview to his “honest interactions with the EFF”, stating “as a result, he achieved in three years what the ANC could not in 24 years”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)