we need race debate urgently, mr president

AS could have been expected, the media, analysts and other experts are singing the praises of President Jacob Zuma after his 100 days in office.

AS could have been expected, the media, analysts and other experts are singing the praises of President Jacob Zuma after his 100 days in office.

The same people, including some moral crusaders, were telling us not even a year ago that Zuma was not fit to be president. Apparently what works for Zuma is that he is approachable and a nice person, unlike former president Thabo Mbeki, who was "aloof".

Well, I thought we needed a leader to lead us out of the crisis of poverty, racism and underdevelopment of the majority. I didn't think being nice was a criteria for leadership.

The truth is that on policy Zuma is no different from Mbeki. They both take their cue from the ANC. They subscribe to policies that have brought disaster for the majority in the past 15 years.

Zuma has impressed many people with his openness. He has responded to most pressing questions by saying "we need to debate that". This has projected him as a man of dialogue.

But when ANC Youth League president Julius Malema raised the issue of minorities in the economic cluster, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu suggested that we need a dialogue on the race question, and for the first time our approachable president said "no debate".

Zuma went on to say the ANC is a nonracial organisation which has white comrades and so we can't discuss race. Strange indeed! Our country remains racist and our president says we must not discuss race.

The race denialism reached an absurd peak when ANC general-secretary Gwede Mantashe recently said newly appointed Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus was black because of her dress sense and having been in the ANC all her life.

The denial of racism is at the core of why South Africa is not working for the majority, who happen to be black.

In fact, it can be said that most of the post-1994 policies have not helped to undermine racism - black people remain second-class citizens in their own country, a bunch of car guards and waitresses, as someone said.

Racism is alive and kicking. Look at houses the democratic government has built for blacks, look at the racism and violence on farms, look at the health system for blacks, look at the education system. Already the blacks who got land through the land restitution process are being dispossessed of their land by the the government.

Black communities living in platinum areas are being forcibly removed. Blacks are mere workers and servants. Whites still get paid more than blacks for the same job.

Our prisons are full of black people. The wealth of this country is still enjoyed by the white community and a few black economic empowerment beneficiaries.

So, how come our president says no to a debate on race and there is no uproar?

Part of the explanation lies in the devastating inferiority complex our leaders suffer from. When Zuma says the ANC has white members and therefore we must not talk about racism, he shows whose interest the government sees as a priority.

He confirms the saying, "Whites are gods". This explains why we are hosting a shockingly expensive Soccer World Cup for the enrichment and enjoyment of whites. The debt of the World Cup is likely to be paid even by our children.

Until we free our minds from mental slavery and from the lie of nonracialism, we can never reverse the impact of 350 years of racism. The race debate is urgently needed.