How does being MUSLIM and Coloured help reclaim the Western Cape for non-racialism?

How does being MUSLIM and Coloured help reclaim the Western Cape for non-racialism?

– Identity-double-speak, the undoing of the quest for a non-racial identity-

Permit me to congratulate the new ANC – Western Cape leadership as most recently confirmed. The elections appeared smooth and though it started late, it was without incident. This is a major sign of progress under the leadership of ANC Western Cape Chairperson Marius Fransman who in this season was elected unopposed. Citing this as progress, is against a background of a period of jostling, internal positioning and even racial overtures among those who share the respective denotations of Coloured and Black as determined by the apartheid state. It is therefore a salient moment when elections can take place in matured sense and the results are confirmed with that same spirit. Let me than congratulate all elected office bearers in what I call progressive PEC elections of 2015.

I have taken it upon myself to write in response to the most recent interview of the ANC – Western Cape General Secretary Faiez Jacobs as captured in the TNA Publication of July 2, 2015 and subsequent interviews carried in among others the City Press and Mail & Guardian. I will use the caption ‘We can reclaim the Western Cape’ as my central point.

This claim is not as vacuous as some makes it out to be because I share the view and have opined on this over a year ago, that the Western Cape is not out of reach. If we can sit today and talk about the vision of reclaiming a Western Cape, it is indeed a fresh breath of air, yet one that must be contextualised.

Perhaps we must first admit a few things as we delve into my questions. I have chosen in this article to ask perhaps some penetrating clarifying questions.

Today the ANC Western Cape leadership is on record for admitting that there was a time when its provincial leaderships were torn apart by individual tussles that rendered the mandate and role of this structure defunct and frail to ever regain power. I do not need to remind us that the ANC- WC leadership back then refused to admit these political tussles.

Today the ANC- Western Cape leadership is at liberty to admit that there was a time when the very political jostling for power at leadership level had clear racialised tendencies which defined the scope of the leadership tussle along African and Coloured platforms of opposition. Back than this was never admitted if it was flagged the ANC Western Cape leadership proved dismissive of that and harped back to the era of the UDF as the basis for its unity.

Having cited these two aspects namely individual interest and racial group interest as part of the reasons for the compromised mandate of the ANC Western Cape leadership, I will postulate there is another aspect which I choose to call the hidden divider immanent in FAITH.

I do not expect many to agree on this my postulation yet it’s a fundamental aspect that which already has a history but will increasingly manifest with disastrous implications. I even expect the usual dismissiveness as was before, yet I am not intimidated to express my thoughts for the quest of the provincial secretary is to engage

. …. I am MUSLIM and Coloured….

I was drawn to this conclusion particularly since the new general secretary Faiez Jacobs in his first official press briefing, by way of introducing himself categorically states he is a Muslim and Coloured. This off the cuff perhaps innocent but very true statement appears irrelevant. It even appears as a leader who is transparent, yet it raises  more questions. Why would it be important for a newly elected official of the ANC Western Cape to state his faith, why would anyone’s faith come into the leadership of the ANC which is and remains an organisation that claims being a broad church that includes all? I must hasten to add that it is the right of anyone to make known where they belong in their faith association, the constitution imbibes the right to free association. That is not what, I am questioning, what is being questioned is what is the meaning of this claim of I AM MUSLIM?

How does this claim help the reclaim of the Western Cape for the ANC as advanced by the newly elected Provincial Leadership member? Particularly since Muslims remain a minority in the Western Cape. Would it have been acceptable if the new general secretary was for example a Cameron Dugmore (Cadre Dugmore forgive me for using you as an example) and he would introduce himself as I am a Jew and white?

If there is a primary reason for this what is the role of faith in the Western Cape ANC politics? Has the faith played a hidden less acknowledged but very active and conscious role in dividing the very core of the ANC in its fundamental mission of reclaiming the Western Cape? What has been the role of the faith in the collapse of branch structures, the side-lining of leaders who are of a different faith persuasion if any role at all?

What is really implied with being Muslim, when we all know Muslims holds the corner on small business as part of the Western Cape economy? What are the political and  economic means of this statement of identity for leadership articulation? Did the general secretary necessarily or unbeknown to himself perhaps deliberately painted the ANC Western Cape as Muslim organisation? If so why? More important did this pronouncement potentially disqualify possibly 80% of the Western Cape who are by majority Christians? Faith is a very contentious subject and has always proven the epicentre of intolerance

…. I am Muslim and COLOURED…. The second aspect of the general secretary’s statement is his categoric status of being Coloured. However, there exists no Coloured identity in biological or scientific evidential sense, what cannot be disputed is that there exists a political identity called Coloured since Act 30 of 1950 (c) defines a people in this identity. It is the latter that we still wrestle with in the season of Rachel Dalozal that forces us to engage the subject of identity as a racial reality. It is of particular concern in this epoch when the 1910 Segregation State identified its client as evidenced in the 1913 Native Land Act and the 1948 State also its client as evidenced in Act 30 of 1950 (c ) with the classification of a Coloured identity and the 1994 State is yet to do the same.

The denotations for ‘Black’, ‘Coloured’, ‘White & ‘Indian’ have all racial negative connotations of prejudice regardless which one is used as departure point. The one exists because of the other and finds meaning in the other. I am on record to have said, for example ‘Indian’ in South Africa as an identity is hardly an ancestry issue but has undeniable political and economic apartheid informed means which speaks to a time when Indians were regarded as second best to the white identity, as the budget spending per school going child in apartheid shows.

If the new general secretary today boldly declares he is Muslim and COLOURED, is this not an acceptance of this racial denotation of a people who was never afforded a space, time and place to define themselves? It becomes problematic, to understand the general secretary because he is emphatic that  non-racialism remains the fundamental focus. However, non-racialism is the antithesis of a race based identity and therefore if used in this setting suggests what I have before dubbed identity-double-speak.

For the ANC – Western Cape general secretary to pronounce on his identity as Coloured can it be argued he potentially did not understand the on-going internal challenges, even rejection by the very people of this denotation for this term Coloured? Or has he categorically defined his acceptance of his identity as that which defines this group? If so why and for what reason?

Again I am compelled to ask, why would it be essential for Jacobs as ANC Western Cape leader to tell us he is Coloured? What is the value of this claim? How does this claim help the subject of reclaim of the Western Cape? Assuming we may ever arrive at a place in which the apartheid identifier for identity ‘coloured’ is no more part of the post-1994 State definition for identity and Jacobs is no more a ‘coloured’ can we assume his identity will only than be Muslim? If the latter is the case what are the implications if not ramifications for political leadership to articulate as categoric as Jacobs did on his identity and how does this help the cause of reclaim of the Western Cape?

MY UNSOLICITED CAUTION:

  • ANC elected Office bearers must become more aware if not conscious of the audience when they talk about their personal identities they plausibly are defeating the very aim for which they are on record to work.
  • Any uphold of the denotations of racial classification ( black, coloured, white or indian) defeats the overarching aim for non- racialism.
  • Being Muslim and being Coloured respectively hold their own respective natural concomitant fissures that lend it to dividing more than uniting.
  • How does Jacobs’ statement help those of us who do not share his categoric MUSLIM and COLOURED identity constructions as invitees to the table of discourse. Particularly those of us who have no different to a Faiez earlier than him stomped the same grounds  and shared the apartheid spatial context and its divisive designations?
  • Perhaps my caution is that we desist to have any Faith in a covert or overt sense dictate the meridian of engagement and even practical life of the ANC in the Western Cape.

I dare assert we are on a precarious trajectory if identity assumes a faith definition, particularly when faith is an exceptional intolerant means for acknowledging diversity and building organisation unity.  We dare no polarise the Western Cape political context with our short-sighted and insensitive faith descriptions for identity.

It can hardly be used as a base to work for reclaim of the Western Cape, because after this opening of the ANC Western Cape, general secretary’s identity declaration we may have just scored an own goal, for which the Opposition smiles.

Clyde N. Ramalaine (An ANC Voter – Fellow 80’s Student leader – Woodlands High – Mitchells Plain ( 1985)

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