By Bathandwa Magqaza
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.
During the second week of September, the South African domain witnessed a political crisis around a Clicks controversial advert. The company launched an advertisement around hair which included African hair labelled as dry, dull and damaged, while an example of white hair was described as fine and flat. It is indisputable that these overtones were explicitly racist hence they provoked a public outcry. Unsurprisingly, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), vigorously intervened on the matter and their intervention intensified this issue.
Clicks’ CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder, showed remorse and accountability and said, “I am deeply disappointed that we allowed insensitive and offensive images to be published on our website”. Furthermore, he added that the “negligent employees” had been suspended. This response, however, seemed to have gone in one ear and out on the other, in the ears of EFF leaders and their constituency. This assertion can be validated by the “incitement and violent imagery that was evident in the communication of the EFF leaders” Wits University Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Habib argued. They formally insisted for a protest by using words such as “attack” to their constituencies.
The EFF’s intervention might have appeased its constituencies, however, some people were skeptical and critical of their actions. For instance, Professor Adams Habib in his recent Daily Maverick article, defined the EFF’s involvement as “a power grab” because their actions were of someone “awaiting an opportunity for political spectacle.” He thereafter insisted South Africans to take a stand against “the cohort who romanticise war and violence” because South Africa is a constitutional democracy after-all and all anger should be within the boundaries of our constitution.
Former public protector – Thuli Madonsela, who was an illuminating beacon in the dark days not so long ago was lambasted for her response regarding the matter. She claimed that “Clicks was legitimate but anarchy and violence was not.” However, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi responded: “Find the nearest hell Thuli… when you get there, you know the cerebral thing to do. We need no approval from your coconut logic” and he was the gentle one…
I spoke to the UCT SRC deputy secretary general: Siseko Kosani about this issue – he is also a member of the EFF constituency. I told him, “our economy is in tatters, we have just witnessed numerous retrenchments which exacerbated the country’s unemployment rate to 40%”. Thereafter, I asked him, “in what way is the EFF’s reaction (protest & demands) effective for our economy?” Siseko’s response was from a Marxist perspective, he asserted, “the South African economy is divided into two extremes, there are those who have and those who do not have. Our economy benefits the minority – those with the means of production”. He substantiated his assertion by arguing that even if our economy and GDP preforms well, the wages of the proletariat class are likely to remain stagnant while the bourgeoisie get richer.
Nonetheless, South Africa is imbedded in an International Political Economy, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has a strategic goal of attracting foreign investment to reinvigorate our economy. However, his goal might be obstructed by these incidents, because which investor in their right mind would invest in a country where a minority party in Parliament can muscle a company and close its operations through violence without a single murmur from government?
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