For close on 20 years Helen Zille rode the wave of her (dubious and minor) role in running safe houses for ANC terrorists and her part in the Steve Biko expose. From a (minor) Black Sash and PFP base she mesmerized hundreds of thousands of white voters to vote for her Democratic Alliance. It took Mmusi Maimane to destroy the myth of multicultural cooperation and white involvement in black opposition politics.
Dr Mabel Raisebe Maimela (Unisa) and Gail Gerhart already explored the role (and ridicule) of white liberals trying to pose as supporters of Black Consciousness in 1999.
“It is worth noting that white liberalism in South Africa had for centuries been tainted with a kind of condescension towards the indigenous races that usually dulled the edge of any radical critique of colonial oppression and institutional racial supremacy. Paradoxicallly, it is not one’s enemies who can do one the greatest harm. It is not the brutal racists who can do the greatest harm, for they are the obvious enemy. More undermining and disempowering is the well-meaning, essentially kindly, but often confused and fumbling condescension of white liberals who really care (perhaps even passionately) about one’s wellfare”. – Maimela.
The white liberal in South Africa (less than 300 000 according to the pre-1994 elections) is the most opportunistic of all politicians. Biko put them at about 3% of the white population. Even Max du Preez and Piet Croucamp are starting to envisage their end. For the liberal to have played a role in the DA post-1994 they first had to latch on to Biko and Mandela, while appeasing gullible white voters that the “whites are actually still in charge”. Both Maimela and Gerhart expose Zille’s “Biko and Mandela” claims as cynical and opportunistic. Biko was used by the liberal, not out of principle but to boost the erstwhile PFP’s Parliamentary total with seventeen; and to sell the Rand Daily Mail and Dispatch. Biko’s own writings show with how little esteem he regarded the white liberal.
It took Mmusi Maimane to articulate the distaste of the black African for the white liberal bleeding-heart. Zille and her sorry band of liberal cronies must be lamenting today: how could they push “State capture” on the agenda, while a “party capture” took place right under their noses.
But then, liberal gullible emotion can never match realistic wisdom.