I was listening to a radio talk show and the question posed by the host was “Can Apartheid still be blamed for all of the problems we encounter in todays’ society, such as service non-delivery.”
I would like to take this a step further and ask, “Is Apartheid really over to begin with?” I say it is not.
Apartheid is alive and well, but it has evolved into a different method of discrimination. Our society is no longer split along racial lines, but it is now split along the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. The rich, the poor and the middle class. With the rich, you have those who have made their fortune through business and then those who make their fortune under the disguise of public service. In other words, government. With the fortune they make through their shady dealings and tenderpreneurship, becoming a member of government is the quickest way to get rich in South Africa. While some of these people have the ‘decency’ to try and hide their shady dealings, other members of our government arrogantly flaunt their immorality by buying themselves cars worth millions of rands, building private homes worth a quarter of a billion rand, spending R50 000 on fast food and wanting ‘free’ traveling expenses for the next ten years after they leave office. But none of this is free. The South African people are paying for this through our taxes. Then you have the Tenderpreneurs like Kenny Kunene and Shawn Mpisane who openly parade their ill-gotten gains through their corrupt relationships with Government officials. And why shouldn’t they? What’s the worst that could happen? They get convicted, spend six months in a hospital, then get medical parole to spend their time playing golf and slapping reporters. How can this not be considered apartheid? Exploiting the majority of the population so that a minority of people can live comfortably. All these ill-gotten gains comes off the backs of the, regular middle class South Africans who are being asked – no, not asked, but commanded - to pay to use public roads. Who pay taxes that should be going to school books, improving health care and creating jobs. Instead, our money is going towards a fire pool, an amphitheatre and windows that ‘number 1’ doesn’t even like. The Government wants to squeeze as much money from the middle class while trying to keep the poor and uneducated, poor and uneducated. And this is why…
Apartheid is alive and well in our education system. Or rather our lack in a decent education system. Not only can we not deliver school books on time, but the quality of education has been steadily decreasing. By continuously lowering the bar, our government is ensuring that the majority of people remain ignorant when they get to voting age and therefore are unable to make an educated decision. But having a proper education does not only effect your IQ, but your EQ. By keeping people ignorant, you can exploit their underdeveloped emotional intelligence. “Vote for us because look at the horrors of Apartheid. We stopped that. But Apartheid is still the reason that you cannot find a job.” This is emotional black mail. If you tell someone who knows nothing, something, then deny them the means and resources to investigate this information further to determine if it is accurate, they have no choice but to believe you. That is what the government is doing. Removing choice.
“Today knowledge is power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” Peter Drucker.
And the people who control access to knowledge, hold the true power. This is exactly what the apartheid government did with Bantu Education. Give quality education to only a handful of people (pre- 1994 this was white people. Post 1994, this is people who can afford private schooling.) and deny quality education to the majority (those who can only afford to send their children to government schools where the teachers are continuously on strike, where school books are not delivered and where lack of facilities means a four year old boy falls into a drop toilet and dies, drowning in faeces). This way, they can keep the majority poor and therefore they can continue to exploit them. This is why our President can confidently say ‘to hell with paying back this money, because the fools will keep me in power.’
But, in the same breath, the legacy of ‘true’ apartheid is still with us. Based on the 2013 population census, our population is made up of the following demographics: 79.8% Black, 9% Coloured, 8.7% White and 2.5% Indian/Asian. However, based on research done by Fin24 on the racial break down of Top Executive Leaders in South Africa, 71.4% are White, 22.1% Black, 4.1% Indian/Asian and only 2.4% are Coloured. So over 70% of executives in South African companies are made up of only 8.7% of the population. This is clearly a result of a handful of people still benefiting from past injustices. But can you really blame these handful of people who are still reaping the rewards of an evil system or should we blame the people we voted into power to introduce fairness? Policies like BEE, BBB-EE and so on are put into place, but are simply window decorations. Because you only have to go back to people like Kenny Kunune and Shawn Mpisane. The same people continuously benefit from BEE deals and the tender processes. This is a continuation of Apartheid. Like how can Khanyi Dhlomo who already is a multi-millionaire, can get a loan of R34 Million from the National Empowerment Fund to start a business, when loans to millions of other applicants are turned down on a daily basis. So instead, they give more money to people who already have money.
So I ask again, is Apartheid really over?