DA Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature
I have just returned from the Democratic Alliance’s march on Cosatu House to protest against their vetoing of the proposed youth subsidy. The whistle of the stones pelted at us by a mob of Cosatu supporters is still ringing in my ears. And I am saddened for those injured by this thuggery and intolerance. But I can’t help feeling a sense of optimism at what happened.
History is a guide here. Back in the early 1990s, as the move towards democracy gathered momentum, pockets of extremists lashed out angrily to try and stop the inevitable. Political meetings were disrupted, bombs were planted, and occasional random acts of violence perpetrated. AWB supporters gate-crashed the Codesa negotiations and led a quixotic mass drive-by shooting in the former Bophutswana. It was all quite scary at the time, and many of us wondered if these people could in fact produce a racial Armageddon.
Well, we know the answer to that. What they did amounted to no more than the frantic last kicks of a dying ideology. Within years the once feared AWB had been reduced to an object of scorn (if not pity), and the spectre of “right-wing” resistance had been exposed for the bluster it was. And even better, most of its former adherents made peace with realities, and accepted – even if reluctantly – the new democracy.
Seeing Cosatu having an apoplexy about the DA’s championing of the wage subsidy- first refusing even to discuss it with us, and now the actions of its supporters – tells me that history is repeating itself. Faced with crippling youth unemployment, probably our most pressing problem, it has nothing to offer. Nothing except strident rhetoric, toyi-toying (and the odd stone). This is hardly the politics of a proud democracy. It’s scary. But it tells me that something better is on the way!