The loser mentality of white South Africans

On the rather extraordinary claim that white South Africans have been politically and economically marginalized since the inception of majority rule in 1994.

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town via South Africa Tourism Flickr.

The latest piece of mythological drivel on us South African whites was published in that most stoically smug of bourgeois publications, “The Economist,” with the title, “Braai the Beloved Country.” The piece (illustrated with the stock photo, above, taken 10 years ago) made the rather extraordinary claim that we have been politically and economically marginalized in South Africa since the inception of majority rule in 1994. Again the mainstream media are trying to force a victim/loser complex on White South Africa. All this pessimism is nauseating. We won the negotiated settlement and have been thriving ever since–let’s celebrate it for God’s sake!

All the naysayers from The Economist to Steve Hofmeyr and our Red October kin are simply full of nonsense; we despite the odds still manage to do rather well in “the Beloved Country.”

White South Africans need to stand up and take pride in our ability to maintain economic power and in some cases expand it across the continent, while being able to maintain undue political influence not befitting our meager numbers.

Not only have we largely gotten richer and lost our international pariah status, but we can now compete and win in international sporting competitions! Hell, we’ve even been able to convince people that diversity is ensuring that South Africa’s official opposition party has a white leader, non-racialism indeed! It’s even almost impossible to find one of us who will admit voting for the National Party and almost everyone and their aunt/uncle/brother/husband, seems to now have struggle credentials! We played our part in the struggle too!

Our propaganda is so good, that we’ve even convinced ourselves that reverse-apartheid is the affirmative action policy that means some of our kids can’t get into to the University of Cape Town (UCT) or that a triumphant form of non-racialism consists of the fact that the UCT Black Law Students forum has a white president as well as vice-president. We constantly bemoan the skills shortage, deteriorating infrastructure and the bad service in South Africa, but pale skin is still seen as interchangeable for competence and efficiency, black people still get viewed as affirmative action beneficiaries whenever they seep through the cracks to occupy a certain position in society.

And we can still wax lyrical about the good old days while indulging in that most sacred of rituals of settler colonial masculinity according to The Economist: the braai. No wonder we constantly wax lyrical about the wonders of the legal system and defend it at all costs when ‘judicial independence’ is threatened by the ANC while over 77.3% of advocates associated with the General Council of the Bar in South Africa (GCBSA) are male and 74.3 of these are white! Not bad, for a mere 9% of the population. We punch far above our actual demographic weight.

As for the claim, “Overall whites are politically marginal” – this is simply insulting; whites have more than ample representation from the crowd of ex-National Party politicians hanging around the ANC’s progressive business forum to the leader of the South Africa’s official opposition party to multiple cabinet ministers and more than several parliamentarian whites.

And let’s be honest here, we still run most of the top corporates in South Africa. Black South Africans own less than 21% of the JSE. Furthermore this new class of black capitalists now share our values, through a rather ingenious scheme inaugurated by both the Nats and our Anglophone bourgeoisie we managed to form a good working relationship with many of the ANC’s leaders in the 80s and later managed to put swathes of them in business. We even got all the lefty trade unionists to become good capitalists like Cyril Ramaphosa and Marcel Golding.

When good friends of ours like Trevor Manuel dropped our exchange controls, we got to move tons of money to the great banking centers and tax havens of the North. Hell we managed to send around 3 trillion rand out the country. We also got further license to make some money across the rest of the continent as Koos Bekker of Naspers (one of the men praised by The Economist) took full advantage of.

Some of us still have rather silly fears about the ANC and the potential for apocalyptic Zimbabwe-like scenarios, many of us lost quite a bit of sleep over the fear that Julius Malema when he was in the ANCYL was going to come take our land. But the ANC so far has showed itself to have a distinct bias towards those well off, they might take some of hard earned tax money to keep the poor alive, but they still spend half of our health budget on subsidizing our health insurance. Their policies don’t even seem to propose much more than the ambition to create a favorable business environment to track foreign investors and their solution to our unemployment crisis is to promote ‘entrepreneurship’ rather than take more of our stuff. Our chosen representatives in the DA even endorse the ANC’s new policy bible, the National Development Plan.

What’s the moral of the story then? We whites should be celebrating our achievements instead of denigrating ourselves and promoting a negative culture of entitlement among us. We should be celebrating the fact that we managed to come out of the political settlement on top, after we were forced by international pressure, sanctions, the black trade union movement and the UDF to unban the ANC and other liberation movements and to finally come to the negotiating table.

Further Reading

Boers and Bantus

Vintage clips, from 1961, of Nelson Mandela, ZK Matthews, Helen Joseph, among others, on a Dutch TV program talking liberation from white supremacy.


The first group of people who called themselves Afrikaners were Orlams people, who would be called coloured in South Africa today.