Pre-1994 negotiators failed SA – expert

As Unilever and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) agree the "black hair is dull, dry and damaged" advert is offensive and racist, an expert says negotiators at the pre1994 multiparty constitutional negotiations failed the country by not putting racism on the agenda. Political analyst Ongama Mtimka from the Nelson Mandela University said as the elite converged around the negotiating table, they reached agreements on what mattered to them, but failed to think about the poor masses who were mostly affected by racism. "We failed as the country, the elite compromised among each other. It was among the elite to make...
As Unilever and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) agree the "black hair is dull, dry and damaged" advert is offensive and racist, an expert says negotiators at the pre1994 multiparty constitutional negotiations failed the country by not putting racism on the agenda.

Political analyst Ongama Mtimka from the Nelson Mandela University said as the elite converged around the negotiating table, they reached agreements on what mattered to them, but failed to think about the poor masses who were mostly affected by racism.

"We failed as the country, the elite compromised among each other. It was among the elite to make choices and they did that without considering the effects racism had on the masses."

Mtimka said there should be a frank discussion among all stakeholders, including the masses, about what SA experienced as a nation; who were the heroes and villains; what must be done about racism; and how to move forward.

"There is a need for mass education with a curriculum that tells the stories and giving solutions," Mtimka said. He said at the moment, South Africans spoke from different vintage points about the past.

"There was indifference and denialism by many whites about racism because its history favoured them, while blacks felt perpetually victimised and aggrieved because racism continued to rear its ugly head in the democratic South Africa," Mtimka said.

This was caused by the fact that the matter was not addressed but left to correct itself, which was impossible.

"Whites think blacks are crybabies and they must get over it. The consequences were underestimated whereas it was generational problem that needed to be addressed thoroughly and deeply… Now it is a recipe for disaster," Mtimka said.

Meanwhile, the EFF and Unilever, a consumer goods giant, agreed that the Clicks advert was racist and offensive. The director involved in the campaign has since resigned and left the country, while Checkers and Makro pulled TRESemme products from their shelves.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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