True democracy in South Africa is just 18 years old. A very young democracy indeed. The ANC government is, like our democracy, 18 years old. In this country, an individual who has reached the age of 18, the age of majority, is for all intents and purposes an adult. They can vote, sign contracts, drive a vehicle and consume alcohol.
They are considered, by law, capable of making informed decisions, understand the consequences of their decisions and be held fully accountable for these consequences as well as their successes.
An 18 year old who is charged with murder cannot blame this murder on the fact that his parents conceived him more than 18 years ago, or that they, too were conceived more than 18 years ago. His actions are entirely his own. An 18 year old in breach of a contract, also cannot pass the blame for this failure onto his parents.
Now my metaphor is clear and it may seem a little too simplistic and illogical to compare our 18 year old government to that of an actual person, but why should the excuses in the metaphor above seem ridiculous for an individual, but not our government? Is it not ridiculous to blame police corruption in 2012 on something that ceased to exist in 1994? Or the failure to provide schools with textbooks? Were the textbooks ordered during apartheid for delivery now in 2012?
The Government should be held to a higher standard of accountability and an acceptable excuse for their failings should be more than adequate for ordinary South African citizens. Surely, then, if Darrin Scott or Jessica Leandra had blamed apartheid for their racist ramblings, their abhorrent behaviour is completely understandable and acceptable?
Should we feel sorry for them because they too are victims of a vile regime and, like our government, are still fighting to overcome apartheid’s every-lasting influence?
Regime change, throughout history, has always come from the tip of a sword. Civil war has always been the precursor to regime change. The world and most South Africans prepared themselves for the inevitable as we approached our turning point. Yet our transition was peaceful and praised by the world.
South Africans embraced the change and embarked on a period I once heard referred to as the “Madiba High”. Being a South African was, for the first time, something to be proud of. South Africans were admired and our leaders adored and praised world-wide. Our president an icon.
We lived in a South Africa that was pulsing with opportunities and forgive the reference “alive with possibility”. We were The Rainbow Nation and a benchmark for equality, freedom and hope. My description sounds terribly romantic, but that is what it was, a romance between Democracy, freedom and peace. And the world looked on, begging us to get a room and yet wanting to feel the glow of our achievements.
Of course there were problems, but it was believed they would be handled with the same success as the change had been. That was my South Africa then, and wow, do I miss it!
My South Africa today? Yes, I am older, more aware and not recalling a memory with slightly rose-tinted glassed but today I am looking at South Africa through dark lenses with very little light coming through. I believe that Apartheid South Africa shares similarities to our current South Africa.
The government does not care for the majority of South Africans and is riddled with crippling levels of corruption, as it was with the apartheid government. The government is creating a nation divided by race, through the use of propaganda and instilling fear in all the race groups, as done by the Apartheid Government. BEE and the Protection of Information Bill are the same methods used by the Apartheid Government to control Freedom of Expression and the reservation of jobs for a particular population group.
While I understand the value that BEE had, I believe it created further problems than those it solved. Does the ANC feel that those BEE candidates are unable to achieve success based on their own merit? Does it create a level of complacency in those who can rely on their BEE status, that there is no need to perform, no need for ambition or bettering oneself? And the immediate assumption that people are where they are because of government policy and not due to their abilities, ensuring that they are already, unfairly, viewed as incompetent before they have even started.
In South Africa today it is ok to call a political leader a cockroach and a whore and sing songs advocating the killing of a minority. The Government responds to a textbook crisis in June, when the school year started in January. The Government reacts instantly to a controversial painting of the president, charges are made and people march in protest.
A video of a mentally disabled girl being raped goes viral, what was the Government’s reaction? Who marched for that little girl and other victims like her? Government hospitals lack funds, run out of ARVs and other basic medication but the Government pays a $10 million deposit for a private jet for the president. The total cost of which will be R2 Billion. They only cancel this little purchase when pressurised to do so.
Citizens fear being victimised by the police, the very people meant to protect them. There is no regard for the law, by anyone. The most basic of road laws, to stop at a red light, is obeyed by a handful of the population. Drinking and driving? Speeding?
The generally shared attitude is to just bribe their way out of it. What is most infuriating is the people who commit these crimes curse the ANC for the crime, without acknowledging that their contribution. They, too, are criminals. It may be not be murder or rape but the law is the law and people who break the law are criminals. Perhaps if these basic laws were respected, the respect of all laws would not seem to be such a foreign notion and an impossible goal
The majority of South Africans are deprived of their right to decent healthcare, housing, education and most importantly, Dignity.
Is Apartheid to blame for all of this? Are South Africans so incapable and weak that we are unable to grow and change after 18 years? Are we so pathetic that we tolerate failure by Government because of the problems they inherited 18 years ago?
What new government inherits a problem free society? Who do they blame for their failures or do their citizens hold them responsible? How much longer should we allow the ANC Government to keep Apartheid alive and to give it power?
Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps it is better to just accept defeat and realise that Apartheid is an all powerful force that will never be beaten, that there is no good to beat this evil. To just accept what the ANC is really telling South Africa and the world, that Apartheid is, even today, more powerful than they are and they will forever be defeated by it.
That Apartheid makes them fail, not achieve in spite of it.
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