South Africa: It's Not Whether Race Matters, but Whether It Offers a Solution

opinion

Dealing with all the issues facing South Africa is a matter of profound importance. It is difficult to see what a focus on race offers in doing so. In raising the costs of doing business, race policy has made it more difficult. And it incentivises racial thinking - helping to turn it from South Africa's great abomination to a source of cynical pride.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela, widely respected for her work in that office to hold the line against official malfeasance, recently took up her cudgels in defence of something that is evidently very dear to her heart. Social justice, she argues, needs to be at the heart of policy and governance. In her view, this requires placing emphasis on group identities.

"Social injustice," she writes in City Press, "is perpetrated when one-size-fits-all and impact-unconscious policies disadvantage those whose lives are divergent from the paradigm informing such policies. In this regard, persons with disabilities, women, older persons, children, young people and rural communities tend to be disadvantaged. Consider a municipal by-law that says no dogs are allowed in public meetings. Visually impaired people as a group who rely on guide dogs would be disparately affected by such policy...

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