By Anees Teladia
The sociopolitical landscape in the Western Cape is a complex one and an activist from Bishop Lavis has argued that the province remains in the hands of the Democratic Alliance (DA) because of the “politics of race”. In a post that went viral on instant messaging application, Whatsapp and on social media, Abdul Karriem Matthews addressed some important issues relating to the outcomes of the 2019 elections and linked the Western Cape outcome to the sociopolitical and economic reality facing ordinary Capetonians. Matthews is a member of the Bishop Lavis Action Community and argues that what we are facing is not merely a job crisis, but a political and economic crisis that emanates from a faulty economic system [capitalism] as well as a lack of proper – revolutionary – leadership. Matthews also added that the feelings of marginalisation that often drive the so-called coloured community away from the African National Congress (ANC) and into supporting parties such as the DA are a “denial of the reality of our living conditions”.
“If you speak to so-called coloured people in the Cape Flats, they’ll say, ‘Our problem isn’t that we have an issue with black people but that they’re getting all the jobs. Our issue isn’t that only some people are getting rich, but that it appears only black people are getting rich’,” said Matthews.
“But that denies the reality of our actual living and material conditions. I want to point out to the listeners [and readers] the current statistics for unemployment – 27%. Now, if black people are the majority in this country, it stands to reason that the vast majority of the unemployed are, in fact, black and not so-called coloured. The marginalisation people feel is simply because so-called coloured people make up a section of the black population and because the unemployment statistics are so huge.”
Addressing the reasons some people vote for the DA, Matthews wrote in his viral post:
…As for people who look like me [so-called coloureds], they make up the majority of this province. Yes, there is a so-called coloured middle class who support various political parties, but the majority of this group feel threatened by black people and thus mostly vote DA.
…The reason the DA keeps winning this province, the only reason they keep winning is the working class coloured vote.
Let us profile this community. Apart from a very small section of these people in relatively well-paid skilled jobs, the majority earn low wages or are unemployed. They live in poor housing, overcrowded flats or wooden structures. They live in gang infested areas plagued with drug and alcohol abuse. Some sections are highly conservative Christian or Muslim as well. This group overwhelmingly votes DA.
They believe white is right. They believe the white man is better. When they speak of their families, they will routinely mention their ancestor who was white. They deny their blackness. They believe they are not black. No matter how desperate their living conditions, they believe that they are better than black people living in shacks. Even if some black folks are educated and live in nice homes and drive nice cars, that black person according to them, remains a k#&@#$. Yes, they still use this disgusting term for black people.
This is the reality of the Western Cape. If you don’t get this you are either living in denial, are not aware of your privilege or you are just plain stupid.
Matthews argues that the marginalisation felt by the local so-called coloured community is not unique to that community.
“What is happening is that for the few jobs available, we have competition between so-called black and coloured people.”
“So, in as much as so-called coloured people feel marginalised, black people also feel marginalised. The feeling of marginalisation doesn’t only exist in the so-called coloured community.”
“The oppressed and exploited are fighting over the available jobs,” said Matthews.
The solution then, according to Matthews, resides in a concerted campaign aimed at examining our economy and in whose interest it primarily works.
“The solution is: let’s accept that the capitalist system doesn’t work for the working class,” said Matthews.
“We need to have a concerted campaign, looking at what the economy is all about and in whose interest it works. This economy works for the rich only!”
“We need revolutionary leadership in our progressive organisations. We need proper leadership.”
Listen to the full interview here: