With the 2014 elections around the corner many philosophies arise about how much votes the ANC will lose. In 2009, the ANC was told it will lose many of its votes to COPE. Now we are told that it will lose them to the born-frees (Young people born in and after 1994).
Who would forget the creation of Congress of the People (COPE) after Thabo Mbeki resigned; it was more than just an addition to over 45 South African political parties that stand for elections, it was an ANC break away party. After Pumzile Mlambo Ngcuka publicly joined COPE, people though Mbeki did too, leading to the belief that COPE will win and form the country’s official position in parliament.
However, COPE did not even come close to being a threat. In the 2009 National Election COPE managed to gather 7.4% votes behind the DA which gathered 16.7% and ANC leading with 65.9%.
Now as we head to next year’s elections many have had similar prophesies about the future of the ANC which can be shaken by the born-frees. It is assumed that this group won’t VOTE considering South Africa’s apartheid past.
That unlike their parents, apartheid has no relevance in their lives; it only impacted their parents not them the media and analyst argue.
I argue that that analysis is short sighted and is meant to confuse young voters whose lives are shaped by apartheid in every aspect of their lives.
Born in 1991, I consider myself a born-free as I grew and came to understand South Africa as a country defined by democratic principles and values of a free society grounded in its constitution.
Growing up in this period however did not mean apartheid did not affect me. My family’s economic and social status was and still is chained by the legacy of such a regime. It will be short sighted again I argue to say apartheid is not affecting me as a born-free.
It’s also crazy to assume that most born-frees will not vote ANC. Let’s consider my story which some of you must have read already.
I am a 21 year old black South African. I don’t come from that few black elite or from a middle class. I come from a poor family with my mother having no education or skills that are required by the labour market.
And this is a case for many black South Africans who are still poor today. Our parents and their parents were never given the opportunity to further their education. Through Bantu education, the apartheid government made sure that the only skills they will get are knitting, typing or woodwork.
If one was lucky they would become nurses, teachers or form part of the police services. But the other majority will go and work in mines, other be domestic workers of the other privileged group.
Our parents who were a generation that grew up under apartheid are unable to pay for our school fees, our varsity tuition fees and they struggle to find jobs in today’s over competitive labour market.
Many of us poor black South Africans depend on government “no fee” schools and use financial loans to finance our tertiary education. Our parents cannot afford.
When we do finally graduate, we don’t have fathers that own companies nor have friends that do. We get thrown back to the highly competitive labour market. That time my white friend who I graduated with has more chances of going to work for his dad because of the positive apartheid legacy they were left with. It is because of apartheid that White unemployment in South Africa is standing just below 7%.
If I as a black South African do finally get a job; I will have to help with the education of my siblings and pay the financial loans I got while in varsity. This means, I won’t be able to buy myself a car, a house or do my own savings for my own children’s future education as fast as I would like.
Whereas my white friend I graduated in varsity will be quickly able to do so. My economic poor status will still define my abilities even after I graduate.
Apartheid’s exclusion of our black parents from getting proper education so to get good jobs will still haunt me even after I have graduated.
My friend often makes a joke.
“Esethu, you know we black people are still going to struggle for a long time. Look, for my birthday, the only thing I get from my mum is a HAPPY BIRTHDAY wish. Some (not reader note before you comment) of my white friends get cars or even their parents buy them houses’
This is a simple but yet a joke that shows how unequal South Africa is and it’s really hard to laugh at it. Whites today earn 6 times more than blacks. Whites are standing at more than 68% while blacks are less than 16% in management position in the private sector. This is despite the fast growing black middle class boosted by the ANC government policies meant to redress past inequalities.
Despite the progress being made by government it’s the black majority in South Africa that continues to be confronted by poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The labour market and the private sector are still largely controlled by white South Africans.
Analysts argue that it will take until 2061, that’s 48 years from now on until black and white families bring home the same salaries.
QUESTION DROPPING: Do you think the DA is a relevant party to fix these economic gaps?
Today because of the positive apartheid legacy left to the privileged human that happened to be in a white skin, one group can afford to pay fees for their children’s “private” education. They can also pay tuition for tertiary education for their children.
Their children have access to computers at home and at school. This is an opposite for us black people who relied on no fee schools public schools that hardly have infrastructure and resources needed. The kind of education the black child gets is far worse than that of a white child.
What now De Klerk and some black and white South Africans are saying is that we must pretend like apartheid never existed. And that the unequal society that exists today cannot be blamed on apartheid. Yet even the born free generations still lick the wounds of apartheid passed on to them by their parents.
The transition to democracy was not a magical moment like most South African think. The transition did not instantly by a whip of a magic stick give blacks the education and skills they needed.
It did not instantly equate public and private schools. It did not transfer the economic power from whites to black. It did not in an instant eliminate poverty.
1994 simply signalled a start to economic freedom. No one said it will happen in 20 years, also no one said it won’t happen within those years.
I am not in any way blaming whites for what they have today I am blaming the apartheid system. If it never existed I don’t believe South Africa would be as unequal as it is today.
I am not a previously disadvantaged South African; I am still disadvantaged and believe me or not my skin colour still has something to do with it.
White people should not feel guilty for their privileges and start telling blacks to stop blaming apartheid. Their mere fact that one had a white skin colour made them more privileged than blacks without even consideration of their support or opposition of the system.
And being privileged does not mean you’re wealthy. Even the poor whites under apartheid benefited; they had better public transport better access to resources, better schools and more chances of getting jobs.
And yet this born-free is expected to forget apartheid when its scares were transferred to me from my mother at birth.
Millions of South African born-frees have similar stories. They could not afford fees in schools, the ANC government made no-fee schools. They could not afford tuition in Tertiaries; the ANC made colleges no-fee institutions and offered student financial loans, bursaries and internships through its departments and provincial offices.
Many of them now, unlike their parents are in tertiaries institutions, starting or finishing their degrees.
But today, these analysts who see us born-frees as a threat to ANC are asking us to forget. Forget that we the born-frees more than our mothers have benefited from the new South African democratic order.
I refuse to sing the same tune with the people who see no real progress or transformation in our country when there is. I went to a public school which was built by mud for over 7years. There was no running water or clinic nearby.
But now those have been transformed; we have a clinic and the school that I went to has water and no longer a mud school.
But I am constantly asked to blindfold myself and sing the same tune “nothing has happened since 1994”. I refuse, I am not a lair.
I refuse to believe that we born-frees are a threat to the ANC; many of us matriculate and get to universities to be welcomed by SASCO having been in the hands of student organisations like COSAS in high-schools.
Many of the Tertiary institutions’ SRCs are led by SASCO with born-frees taking a leading role in influencing education policies. These organisations have clear visible links with the ANC.
If the born-frees hated the ANC so much; there won’t be SASCO or COSAS. N.B both SASCO and COSAS are independent but have close relations with ANC.
I refuse to vote DA because it sees transformation in a country with a huge gap between whites and blacks as reversed apartheid and has slowed it where ever they lead. I refuse to vote DA because it simply sees blacks as bate to attract other blacks in the party.
No blacks are in powerful policy influencing policies. See DA’s cabinet; it’s all men, please spot blacks. But you will find them in positions like spokesperson, youth leader and parliamentary leader; positions that are always in the public eye not in the back door DA policy making room.
Mamphela’s Agang, is not even relevant to my thoughts; it’s simply an old Gogo’s Stokvel whose bite won’t even hurt the PAC or Patricia’s orphaned I.D. Mamphela failed to transform the World Bank which still exploits African countries when she chaired it; those African countries who owe the institution can testify to its brutality.
She also failed to transform UCT when she was a Vice Chancellor. The workers at UCT are still owed millions of monies which they should have received under her reign. Every time she visit UCT; its workers picket outside complaining about outsourcing that exploits them every day. Now she wants to lead SA?
Highlighting these however does not mean the ANC is perfect. They have never denied the problem of unemployment, corruption, maladministration and other ills that continue to cripple our economy.
The ANC is the only political party relevant and has shown commitment in trying to solve South Africa’s challenges.