Max du Preez

A nation of victims

2015-05-05 09:01

Max du Preez

South Africa has become a nation of victims. Most of us are consumed by self-pity and compete in painting the darkest possible picture of our country.

The black unemployed and poor blame foreigners from elsewhere in Africa for all their problems; the black middle class blame everything on whites; and whites say we we’re about to become another Zimbabwe. Donald Trump was right when he called South Africa a “total and dangerous mess” recently, many of them say.

If you’re unhappy or your life is not what you dreamed it was going to be, don’t do something about it, simply find someone to blame, is the approach.

Hope and optimism are today scarcer than a reliable electricity supply. Perhaps we should start talking about hope-shedding.

Foreign visitors see a different picture

The murder of white farmers amount to genocide, we are told. Whites can’t go anywhere without being in danger of an attack by a black criminal.

White youngsters can’t get jobs because of affirmative action, we hear. White businesses are struggling because of black economic empowerment. The Afrikaans language is about to become extinct.

All civil servants are corrupt, lazy and uneducated. The ANC are a bunch of dishonest, stupid communists, the white naysayers want us to believe.

From the ranks of black South Africans we hear that all whites are rich, selfish racists who live off black labour like parasites. Blacks are still slaves in the land of their birth. Whites stole their land and still cling to 90% of it; they own all the media and arrogantly dominate the public discourse and universities. In short, life is hell for black South Africans and the bloody white settlers don’t want to admit it.

Foreign visitors see a totally different picture. The two seasoned European academics that visited me last week were astonished at our lack of appreciation of South Africa’s stability, vibrancy and progress.

These visitors notice the most sophisticated infrastructure, economy and business sector in the so-called Third World. They say the number of houses built for the homeless since 1994 is unique on modern world history.

They are impressed with the openness of our society and the robustness of the racial, class and ethnic debates.They are very impressed that South Africa could build a black middle class of some six million in just two decades. They are very complimentary about the quality of black entrepreneurs and public intellectuals. They express their admiration that after 20 years, the constitution is still a rock of stability and that the rule of law is applied rigorously.

It is about time we nailed the prophets of doom and expose those who peddle lies and half-truths for their own purposes.

Pure hyperbole

South Africa faces many serious challenges, but the picture is not nearly as dark as the alarmists paint it.

Take the sensitive issue of farm murders as an example. Of course we should all be very concerned about the number of people killed on farms every year, but let’s stick to the facts: According to the Transvaalse Landbou-unie’s latest figures, there were 3 494 attacks on farms the last 25 years, between 1 January 1990 and 14 April 2015, during which 1 737 people died.

Considering the small number of people who live on farms, this is serious, but any mention of genocide is pure hyperbole. The propagandists who regularly refer to the “thousands” of farm attack victims are liars with a dubious agenda.

Poverty is another example. It is one of South Africa’s most serious problems, but we should remember that more than 16 million needy South Africans receive social grants from the state – almost half of all households has at least one such recipient. In 1998 only 2.5 million people received such grants.

If South Africa was still hell on earth for black people, how do we explain that more than five million people from other countries chose to come and live here?

Blind pessimism and a culture of always blaming others rob people of their energy and their will to tackle challenges.

Come on, snap out of it. Really.

- Follow Max on Twitter.

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