The recent debacle with Helen Zille remarking that some good things did come out of colonialism, thus causing a storm of infantile denial of what should be seen as a self-evident fact, is a sad reflection of how political expediency creates dishonesty.
One can see why praise of any of the regimes which built the early infrastructure of South Africa would be a sensitive area with a party which does not want to give an image of favouring white elitism. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that they have to descend to policies which stick heads in sand. No sensible person is saying that the domination aspects of colonialism were in any way praiseworthy. It is incontrovertible fact, though, that the initial impetus which brought Africa out of non-technological tribalism into the ability to live in a developed world on terms of equality came from colonists and colonialists. Furthermore, the vast majority of such were people of praiseworthy energy, enterprise and courage. They carved these beginnings while overcoming immense difficulties and hardships, as any proper study of their history will reveal.
There is no doubt that serious mistakes arose out of their convictions of racial superiority, and that even with the excuse of the period many of their actions were inexcusably brutal. This is a valid, but separate, issue. It does not detract from the legitimacy of the debt owed to them in terms of the development of the country.
The question has to be asked: had there been no colonists, where would this knowledge and infrastructure have come from? Would somebody have waved a magic wand?
Also, those now pontificating about the evils of colonialism should imagine finding themselves in a reversal of roles, becoming the colonists with their mindsets of the time. In what manner would they have handled things differently or any better?