/ 23 March 2010

BMF: Calls for lifestyle audits mask ‘racist narrative’

Bmf: Calls For Lifestyle Audits Mask 'racist Narrative'

Calls for lifestyle audits have become a “smokescreen” masking “racist narratives” that say black Africans cannot be wealthy without being corrupt, the Black Management Forum (BMF) said on Tuesday.

“Instead of objectively raising issues in the national and public interest, the tendency has been to portray black wealth as something to be regarded with suspicion,” said BMF deputy president Tembakazi Mnyaka in a statement.

“In doing so, the purveyors of this narrative seek to silence the emerging black economic elite and middle class, lest they are blackmailed by the now-exposed banner that says: blacks cannot be wealthy.”

Mnyaka noted the direction of the debate on lifestyle audits, punted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), with concern.

While the BMF supported Cosatu’s call “in principle”, it was confident that existing mechanisms in the country’s tax, policing and justice system were sufficient.

Those supporting calls for lifestyle audits “manipulate” and “de-historicise” the context.

“We are made to question whether apartheid and its attendant policies that dehumanised blacks and created the most unequal society in the world really happened; and if the conclusion is that it did, we are made to feel guilty about correcting its wrongs.”

Mnyaka here referred to policies such as black economic empowerment, affirmative action and land reform, which were “cynically viewed as avenues for corruption”.

“To mask the continued unjust economic relations percentile, statistics are thrown by organisations such as Solidarity, which claims that blacks own 23% of the JSE wealth.

“Such number throwing does not say anything about how the elite and middle class remain the preserve of white compatriots.”

The wealth of the few Africans mentioned was then questioned, and the same did not apply to whites.

“His/her whiteness is enough to justify wealth and status and is enough to refute any suspicion of wrongful doing in wealth accumulation.

“Blacks should not be made to feel ashamed of legitimately acquired wealth or sorry for doing business with the government,” Mnyaka said.

‘Why are you choosing me?’
The BMF’s comments came as the Star revealed that Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has 50 speeding fines and two pending warrants of arrest against her name.

The revelation forms part of the newspaper’s running of lifestyle audits of the country’s politicians.

The daily said the R17 000 in fines, ranging from R100 to R1 500, were incurred over a period of four years and were registered on the metro police’s database.

Two of the fines show warrants of arrest are pending, which means a magistrate has decided to issue the warrant, but the order for arrest had not been signed yet.

The fines are linked to six vehicles.

It could not be proved that she was the driver at the time of the offences, but all the vehicles were registered in her name.

Mokonyane said in reaction: “I’d prefer not to talk about my personal life … Why are you choosing me to do this to? I believe you guys are being too hard on politicians.”

The Democratic Alliance spokesperson on safety and security in Gauteng condemned the premier’s actions, saying: “It is high time that she and all ANC office-bearers understand that their actions are open to scrutiny and that they are not above the law.” — Sapa