The former archbishop of Cape Town and former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) also called on members of President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet to sell their “expensive cars”, “to show you care” about the poor in South Africa.
Tutu said apartheid had left South Africans riddled with “self-hate”, and it was directly to blame for the country’s vicious crime rate and road carnage.
He made the calls on Thursday night during a book launch at Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Advanced Study.
The book, The Humanist Imperative in South Africa, contains 26 essays by leading academics and public figures and is edited by Professor John de Gruchy.
As guest of honour, Tutu recounted the myriad ways apartheid had dehumanised South Africans.
“Apartheid damaged us all; not a single one of us has escaped.”
In a break from his prepared speech, Tutu said a “wealth tax” had been suggested during the TRC process, and had enjoyed support at the time.
Moments earlier, he had told the whites in the conference room: “You all benefited from apartheid. Your children went to fancy schools, you lived in posh suburbs.”
He stressed, however, that this did not mean all whites had supported apartheid.
Speaking to the Cape Argus after his speech, Tutu expanded on his wealth tax call.
“There were many in the white community who were ready for this (at the time of the TRC process).
“It could be quite piffling, maybe 1 percent of their stock exchange holdings. It’s nothing. But it could have helped… maybe building new homes, and that would have been an extraordinary symbol of their readiness.”
Asked whether he was again calling for a “wealth tax”, Tutu said: “That’s what I’m saying.”
He then laughed: “What were you doing in there (the conference centre)? Were you listening?”
Tutu did not say how he wished the tax to be implemented, but said he hoped whites themselves would “agitate” for it to be imposed upon them.
Throughout his speech, Tutu cited numerous examples of what he saw as apartheid’s impact, which had fundamentally been an “erosion of self-esteem” and the advent of “self-hate”. He blamed South Africa’s high crime rate on this, saying: “Thus we must not be surprised at the staggering statistics of violent crime, murder, rape.
- Tax based on race (bananaza.wordpress.com)
- Tutu’s white only tax in perspective (bananaza.wordpress.com)
- Bishop Desmond Tutu outs himself as a racist: Times (politics.ie)
- Losing faith in Tutu (followdirk.wordpress.com)
- South African Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu to Retire (businessweek.com)