Gatvol Capetonian trades on untruths

COMMENT

Entering this debate sideways, it is worth stating it is not our intention to falsify all the claims made by Gatvol Capetonian. Nor do we, in any manner, condone their methods. We are also aware that they do not represent the views of the entire coloured community.

But let us first locate their thinking within the rise of populism internationally, which has not only pushed most people into questioning the status quo but has also somehow led us into a post-truth world where truth is essentially up for grabs.

We have seen how challenging the establishment led to Brexit in the European Union,and in the United States Donald Trump emerged as the president, partially because of a disregard for the truth and partially because of an embracing of the untruthful.

The first tenet of the argument that is the stepping stone of these populists implicitly or explicitly is that truth in itself is not universal or objective, thus reducing it to a social construct. In essence, they advance the view of multiple truths.

This is problematic because it can and often does lead to negative consequences, such as the current White House denying and misrepresenting the evidence for climate change, and subsequently using this as a reason for withdrawing from the United Nations-fostered Paris Climate Accord.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines “post-truth” as a process or an event whereby one gets to “denote circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

First, there have been many cases in which facts have been purposely misconstrued to appeal to the emotions of the masses. More to this point, former professor of ethics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Kai Horsthemke, contends that post-truth politics has led to the disregarding of truth in favour of appealing to personal feelings and emotions. We may add to this the use of a “we versus them” mentality, which often uses ethnicity as its benchmark.

Far from being a phenomenon that only swept through the West, this post-truth populist wave also seems to be sweeping through South Africa. In our case, this is in the form of Gatvol Capetonian. The group, whose membership number is undetermined, is secessionist. As the group’s spokesperson, Fadiel Adams, has made it known, they are calling for “all people not born in the Western Cape pre-1994 to sell their assets and go home”.

It is not surprising that we should find the arguments made by the group being filled with populist overtures. The Gatvol Capetonian group is claiming the following:

  • Coloured people have been sidelined in decision-making institutions such as Parliament;
  • They have also been deprived of employment opportunities because of the influx of people from the Eastern Cape who are taking their jobs;
  • Thus, they are calling for the people who migrated to the Western Cape post-1994 to leave the province and that the province should become an independent country.

Such an approach is divisive and can only create more tears in our fragile national fabric and democratic constitutional republic.

There is truth in the fact that coloured people have not been included as much as Africans and white people in thedecision-making bodies ofthe country.

To put it bluntly, the experiences of coloured people and African people are not the same and they are shaped by the nature of historical injustice. Thus, it is important that they to have a voice within major decision-making institutions, just like everyone else.

That said, however, the unsympathetic call for black people to return to the Eastern Cape is not just problematic from a racial perspective — it is also ahistorical. It is clear that the Gatvol Capetonian people are pulling the Trump stunt by calling for black people to leave “their” province, as though the Western Cape is not part of South Africa. Moreover, by calling for black people to return to the Eastern Cape they are calling for the return of apartheid homelands. In their mind, black people are the reason for their suffering. Consequently, getting rid of them would relieve it.

They fail to take into account the growth in unemployment, thus leading to narrow views of what has been acknowledged as a national challenge. The thinking that black people for some weird reasons do not belong in the Western Cape is problematic and untrue.

The calls for black people to leave the province need to be addressed urgently to avoid cases similar to the xenophobic attacks, which were fuelled by unreasonable fear of foreigners, and African immigrants in particular. It is only through reflective and critical unity that, as South Africans, we can get to face the problems of unemployment, corruption and poor education standards, which continue to mentally damage the future of this country.

You can’t blame black people, the majority of whom are themselves marginalised, for corrupt government officials any more than you can blame coloured people for gun violence in the Cape Flats.

Indeed, all South Africans are gatvol and pulling in different directions can only serve to worsen the situation for all of us.

Gift Sonkqayi is doing a honours degree in education at the University of the Witwatersrand. Bhaso Ndzendze is research co-ordinator at the University of Johannesburg’s Confucius Institute and the author of Beginner’s Dictionary of Contemporary International Relations

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

Malawi elections provide a global lesson in democracy

COMMENT: Opposition candidates and party can increase their chances of success at the polls by putting aside minor differences and presenting a united front

Masterclasses in duck-and-dive

You didn’t need to be a genius or a prophet to predict that Bushiri would run or that Zuma would stall

Bye-bye, Don. But is this the end of Trumpism?

If it hadn’t been for Covid-19, Donald Trump might have won the presidential election. Almost 48% of voting Americans believe in his brand of democracy, equality and justice.

The decline and fall of the South African auditing profession

Its reputation is not being helped at all by the crisis at its independent regulatory body

Will Biden and Harris help us breathe again?

The United States’ newly elected leaders, Joe Biden and Kamala Devi Harris, must help recalibrate a global politics of hope and empathy

The Trump era is over. But the fight for democracy is just getting started

A respected and robust United States — with all of our flaws, mistakes and missteps — can be good for the defence of democracy, not least in Africa
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of...

Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one

Covid-19 stems ‘white’ gold rush

The pandemic hit abalone farmers fast and hard. Prices have dropped and backers appear to be losing their appetite for investing in the delicacy

Al-Shabab’s terror in Mozambique

Amid reports of brutal, indiscriminate slaughter, civilians bear the brunt as villages are abandoned and the number of refugees nears half a million

South Africa’s cities opt for clean energy

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions will hinge on the transport sector
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…