Black Conservatism in Post-apartheid South Africa
Siphiwe I Dube (University of the Witwatersrand)

In South Africa, we take it for granted that to be a black politician and public intellectual, means to be situated someplace on the left-liberal spectrum. However, a figure such as Gatsha Buthelezi put that assumption into question in the 1980s, including a large number of black male intellectuals who were part of the 80s reform. A reform that was about creating a new black middle class with a stake in the system of preserving rather than overthrowing this system. Fast-forward to twenty-first century South Africa and the post-apartheid era and we can observe the fruits of the 1980s project begin to take prominent shape in the greater push for expanding the black middle-class. That is, despite its rich history of left politics, South Africa is not shielded from the rise of the type of black conservatism ripping through America (but also England, Canada, and parts of Northern Europe). In America, the names of Condoleezza "Condi" Rice, Clarence Thomas, and Ben Carson are just a few that roll easily off the tongue in the defence of black conservatism. In the South African context the likes of Herman Mashaba and Sihle Ngobese are certainly newer reflections of this phenomenon in the post-apartheid era. Drawing on this seemingly eclectic examples, this paper aims to illustrate what constitutes black conservatism in current day South Africa. Thus raising a question of how our democracy will respond to this challenge. A challenge that leaves open the possibility that South African politics remain fertile ground for new orientations, albeit mainly conservatively black in my estimation.