An oppressive system similar to apartheid could happen if South Africans do not get more involved and hold the government accountable, comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys said on Monday.
“Apartheid will never ever come back again under the same name,” Uys said during a public lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg.
“But don’t underestimate the inventiveness of that era of politics. Of course it will come back, it made money. It will call itself something else, it will be benign, an acronym. We won’t even know what it means.”
Uys said this was because in a democracy people did not do their homework.
“We have a government that does its homework and you’ll vote for it and be back in the dark ages for the next four generations,” he said.
Uys said apartheid was a “stupid” system. He recalled how he was explaining to a 12-year-old boy how, during apartheid, black people were not allowed to sit on certain benches.
The little boy asked Uys: “This apartheid thing, did it really happen?”
Uys asked the boy why he had asked that, to which the youngster replied: “‘Cause it sounds so stupid”, because no one could stop him from sitting on any bench.
Stupidity can kill
“Stupidity can kill, stupidity is so inventive; so never underestimate the power of stupidity. Don’t underestimate the power of the things you call stupid in politics,” Uys said.
South Africa was a democratic country because millions of people believed there was a future in the dark. He said there were good people in government as well as bad people, and South Africans should not forget that.
Uys said people should not underestimate the power of the ANC Youth League or any youth league. He urged South Africa’s young people to get more involved within youth structures.
“Why are so few young people involved with the youth league? The future is there.”
He warned people to not ignore suspended youth league president Julius Malema.
“Every single thing he said … we may not ignore, and we ignore at our peril. He is a clever politician in the year 2012. He has not followed the blueprint of the past. He has surprised everybody with his unbelievable cheek.”
Uys said it was Malema’s charm and charisma that stuck with people who were waiting for leadership. The people had to lead and the government to follow.
The future of South Africa was what the people made of it, not the government, he said. All South Africans needed to be involved with what was happening.
“We are a country of democrats that care … and not people who say ‘ons is bang, ons is bang, ons is bang’ [we are scared],” said Uys.