South Africa is in a bit of an impasse, neither here nor there.
The country is eighteen years into constitutional democracy yet the average native remains part of the lumpenproletariate in his own land. As public servants continue to unrepentantly swindle state funds through the privatization of Black Economic Empowerment, the country's middle class sees itself very much an economically repressed people.
With the echo of wailing Marikana mine workers still fresh in our minds, as police officers brutally shot at a disgruntled mob of workers in Apartheid-like force and violence; one can only castigate the nefariousness of the South African government and its failure to act on the part of its civilians.
This all of course comes after probably the most repressive governmental flop on the country's youth, since 1976: the Limpopo textbook scandal, which was followed by an unremorseful explanation from the Basic Education Ministry.
As we sit as bystanders waiting for the succession battles within the ruling African National Congress(ANC) to unfold, one gets the feeling that positions of power and self-aggrandizement within the liberation movement, are in fact seen as more important than the needs of the proletariat. Therein stems the inaccurate view that the party overrides the state.
South Africa again is continuing to defy global trends. As global politics is moving towards young and dynamic leadership, our country looks set to award a politically stagnant and economically indecisive septuagenarian a second term in the presidency. South Africa looks set to reward a man whose term has been marred by shuffles and reshuffles, poor service delivery and inconspicuous leadership.
In addition, his government has institutionalized malpractice and tribalism, and has failed to efficiently execute its socio-economic obligations. As a people, South Africans deserve better. This country can no longer continue to underachieve. We can no longer afford to have in place a government that neglects our economic potential.
Economic emancipation through education
The term 'economic freedom' has loosely been sprinkled across the media by various personalities. There has been talk of nationalization as well as constitutional amendments. However, very little has been said about free and equal education. The importance of education for a developing nation such as ours has not been stressed enough by our leaders(case in point, Angie Motsekga). For the country to meet its economic goals, we need forward-thinking leadership. An education minister who does not look to maintain an 85% retention rate, is not progressive enough.
The true wealth of a nation lies with its people and not necessarily in the minerals of the land. Land redistribution is necessary. However, land redistributed to an unskilled people yields little. Giving land to an unskilled and uneducated people does not empower and it does not grow the economy.
The wheels of change are turning
While one party's success is owed to the less liberal, the uneducated and the loyal voter, another is making strides within academic institutions. While I previously castigated Lindiwe Mazibuko's micromanagement of student politics, and to a lesser degree still disagree with her ways, I also commend her and her party for seeing an opportunity. Politics is no longer a Black and white affair.
There is a new race in South Africa. The coconut. Andile Mngxitama refers to this demographic as the quasi-black man/woman. A coconut is a black Anglo-America institutionalized person. He/she is the result of Apartheid and the privatization of quality education. He/she is what Slaves in America referred to as the 'house nigger'. Society paints this people with the brightest of colours. It is the coconut that will benefit most from BEE.
He/she is more likely to get into university. It is he/she who will sit on boards, live in Fourways and drive an Audi. He is a better breed of the Black nation. Although not known to him/her, the coconut is more of an instrument of repression on a disenfranchised Black nation, than he/she is a beacon of hope.
Before Lindi Mazibuko, coconuts had no representation in government. Again, kudos to the Democratic Alliance(DA) for realising an opportunity. The DA has rebranded itself as a party of liberal intellectuals and as the country moves towards equal quality education and the consequent growth of the coco-nation, one wonders what will become of the ANC.
The DA is investing in the youth through education. In doing so, Zille and co. appeal to the coconut and white population; where the capital is: while the ANC only really appeals to the Black population; where the labour is.
Shape up or risk shipping out
While the country is bracing itself for the ANC's Mangaung conference; amid stifled calls for nationalization: hundreds of thousands of matriculants around the country are preparing for their final examinations. The ANC can ill afford to let this succession battle render this decisive quarter insignificant. The issues the country faces are bigger than factional squabbles.
The ANC needs to act. Their dubious actions have resulted in voter distrust. They need to rebrand themselves as a progressive movement. One that realises its socio-economic responsibilities and delivers. A leadership overhaul is necessary but that alone is not enough. It is time for the Gigabas to take us forward. South Africa yearns for an ANC in good standing. It is time to make bold decisions. It is time for unity. It is time for good governance.
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