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Whites were of course enormously privileged by the apartheid system. The privilege of the whites-only franchise led inexorably to a host of other privileges, including the industrial colour bar, trade union rights withheld from black Africans, property rights denied to others, and grossly discriminatory spending on school education. Even though this discrimination has gone, some of the benefits of privilege no doubt linger. But efforts to counter it by reverse racial preferencing have created a privileged black class at the cost of ruining most of the public sector, wrecking economic growth, and perpetuating exclusion and unemployment.

The implication that relative white wealth or other forms of success is the result only or mainly of privilege is misleading, however. It ignores all the other ingredients.

One of these is education. Jacob Zuma pointed out nearly ten years ago that "teachers in former whites-only schools teach in class for an average of 6.5 hours a day, while teachers in schools in disadvantaged communities teach for around 3.5 hours a day", resulting in "unequal outcomes". Six weeks ago the minister of basic education released the findings of a survey to the effect that teacher absenteeism has gone up since then from 8% to 10%. She had previously reported that 80% of schools were "dysfunctional".

White parents would never tolerate this. Why do many black parents and a black government tolerate it? Why does a largely black electorate tolerate it?


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