Thuli Madonsela wants white South Africans to take part in and contribute to restoring justice in a meaningful way. But first, Madonsela wants their past privilege to be acknowledged.
Madonsela has likened the situation in South Africa to a game between a pink and a blue team, where the blue team has been given a head-start, with the pinks only being allowed to join in once equality has been declared.
This sees only the fastest pink teammates catching up with only the slowest from the blue team.
Exploring why so many descendants of dispossession beneficiaries deny that their ancestors were given the head-start that gave their generation an advantage, reports News24.
Madonsela has concluded that fear has been a major driver of this denial, commenting that:
"I have concluded that denial of legacy privilege and disadvantage is principally driven by fear. There is fear that individual self-exertion by current achievers and their forebears will be discounted. There’s also fear of being made a scapegoat with potential consequences similar to the Holocaust in Germany and the genocide in Rwanda."
Madonsela feels that in both instances, the minority had been projected as having achieved their status at the expense of the majority, which had led to genocide.
The former Public Protector felt that this fear was evident in her tea with Helen Zille, saying that:
"I also sensed a concern that the ANC government, now in power for 25 years, would be exonerated for its failure to reduce poverty and inequality if the shadow of the preceding 342 years of colonialism and apartheid were blamed for the persistence of these social maladies. Concern over the prospect of the white minority population being scapegoated to the point of vulnerability to genocide was verbalised strongly."
To combat this, Madonsela feels that the way forward is for white citizens to actively take part in restoring balance:
"I believe that acknowledging the ugly and complex shadow of our past gives us solid grounding for a responsive theory of change, for win-win solutions that anchor sustainable, peaceful coexistence."
Madonsela points to Stellenbosch University, who acknowledged the unjust past, their role in it, the effect on modern social relations, but more importantly: a commitment to playing a role in restorative measures.
Madonsela previously served as the Public Protector, currently a professor and law trust chair of social justice at Stellenbosch University. Madonsela is also the founder of the Thuma Foundation and the Social JusticeM-Plan.
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