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May 14, 2015 4:14 pm

Something’s Rotten in the State of South Africa

avatar by Rolene Marks

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Great Hall on East Campus at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: WikiCommons.

Great Hall on East Campus at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: WikiCommons.

South Africa is synonymous with surf and safari, biltong and the fragrant smell of summer braaivleis. It is also a country that has overcome a dark and racist history in the hopes of embracing a bright, democratic future where all citizens are equal under the law. Iconic anti-Apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and others fought for the freedom of all South Africans and the country can boast of having one of the most liberal and progressive constitutions in the world.

But lately the fragrance of the air has been permeated with the stench of something rotten.

Racism and xenophobia is on the rise in the Rainbow Nation. Once celebrated for embracing diversity, South Africa has taken immeasurable steps back and is on the fast track to ruining all that was accomplished.

Foreign nationals from other African countries who migrate to South Africa in the hope of finding opportunity have had their shops and businesses looted, many have been killed and violently injured. The pictures are too painful for me to look at, let alone post to this blog. South Africans felt a horrible sense of déjà vu as the army rolled in to suburbs around Johannesburg and Durban to try and quell the xenophobic violence spiraling out of control.

South Africa is fraught with internal issues at the moment. Rising unemployment coupled with failing infrastructure such as electricity supplies have made many angry – very angry. Abject poverty and a feeling that all the promises made by a corrupt government who have squandered tax payer’s money or fed their individual coffers have left many looking for a scapegoat.

Foreigners and Jews seem to be convenient targets.

A few weeks ago, Student Representative Council President Mcebo Dlamini, a “scholar” (and I use this term lightly) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) declared his love for Nazi genocide-loving leader, Adolf Hitler. Dlamini is responsible for such gems like,”What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organise people. We need more leaders of such calibre.”

“I love Adolf Hitler,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela. “I will write what I like on my Facebook,” and said he was not on the social media platform to “nurse Jewish people’s feelings.” “Who told them they deserve special treatment? This is an academic space, we must debate issues not to silence individuals.” He also claimed that inside every white person, lives a Hitler.

Dlamini’s repugnant statements are offensive on so many levels I have lost count!

I am sure Dlamini would be less than admiring of Hitler’s organizational skills as he was herded into a labour or death camp for being an “untermensch” – or person of undesirable/sub-human race – much like the 6 million Jews Hitler slaughtered. While more than 11 million lost their lives to the Nazi death juggernaut, no community was specifically targeted and marked for death like the Jews of Europe.

Dlamini was removed from his post as President of the Student Representative Council because he was found guilty of misconduct as a result of a disciplinary hearing – not for his Hitler loving statements. Those are still under investigation.

This isn’t the only instance of anti-Semitism in South Africa. The Higher Education Transformation Network accused Wits Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib, of giving in “to the demands of the Jewish funders and alumni interests.” Once again, a vicious stereotypical anti-Semitic canard has been trotted out in the name of free speech.

Last week a debate took place at Wits University on the removal of Dlamini. Students claimed that the “speedy” decision by Habib to remove Dlamini from his position was based on pressure from the Jewish community over comments the former SRC leader made on admiring Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and not for a separate matter, as claimed by Habib.

“I am a critic of the Israeli state,” said Habib, who had arrived at a debate on the subject of Dlamini’s dismissal to a chorus of boos.

“I was the only VC to write about the incursion into Gaza,” he said, referring to last summer’s IDF ground invasion of the Gaza Strip during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. “How did we go from the critique of Israel … to talking about all Jews? It’s racist and anti-Semitic.”

Well Vice Chancellor Habib, now you know. It is rarely about Israel and more about Jews. The same booing students who take umbrage at Dlamini’s dismissal are the same that feel no compunction when their BDS supporting classmates chant “shoot the Jew” at concerts given by Israeli musicians on your very same campus or loot stores or pop a pigs head in what they think is the kosher section of Woolworths supermarket.

The jig is up. It is blatant anti-Semitism, which they cleverly dress up as anti-Zionism – but they have blown their cover now.

Dlamini’s moronic statements, which are sadly supported by many equally mired in hatred, coupled with the growing anger and intolerance that is rife in South Africa is starting to stink up a storm. Something is rotten in the Rainbow Nation.

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