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SOUTH AFRICA: TWENTY YEARS LATER'S SCORE CARD

27 May 2014, 08:16

GAKWI MASHEGO

A month ago was Zimbabwe’s Liberation Day; that watershed milestone in 1980 when the late Ian Smith handed power to Robert Mugabe and his bunch of revolutionaries. It used to be such an important day that the country came to a standstill when Mugabe drove into Rufaro Stadium to wild applause.

Thirty four years later most of his countrymen are refugees across SADEC. His economy, while in the upswing cannot immediately lift those who remain in poverty. Corruption is rampant and the post 2005 status quo was founded on Zimbabwean blood. Not to take for granted the murder of AmaNdebele in the 1980s.

Equally a month ago was South Africa’s turn to celebrate a milestone twenty years ago when the majority black people voted for the first time; elected the African National Congress to lead the post-apartheid dispensation. Millions queued for hours to cast their ballots under the impression that theirs was going to be a miracle vote. It will make Nelson Mandela president, bring massive employment, quality houses, eradicate poverty and  bring about an inclusive government that will run the legislative process by consensus.

Twenty years of a national democratic revolution has produced its heroes and traitors.

One of those compromised by the transformation of the state has been trusted people caught with their pants down and hands in the cookie jar. Some comrades have become paedophiles and thieves. Some, embedded in the teaching profession have started sleeping with young girls and protected by their unions.

People who were willing to give their lives for the liberation of this country have been found to care less about the public. Some of those deployed to parliament have been found to have colluded with travel agents to defraud the state of money; some have taken discounts on luxury cars from companies bidding for arms contracts; some have bribed politicians with houses and cars to access government contracts; others have been implicated in leaking state secrets to foreign governments for money while others have been found driving state vehicles under the influence of alcohol. The master stroke is the one who was found to have used the public’s money to build a cow kraal and chicken coop for R200 million. All these people were once trusted.

Twenty years of democracy has produced a growing black middle class made up of a thin layer of tender entrepreneurs who do not own the means of production but the appointment letter and the invoice book. Government institutions have continued to give huge contracts to this incapacitated bunch who subcontract the work to white companies with expertise and later complain that whites own the economy. 

Truth is, post’94 the majority of white people actually work hard for their money and there is no point in demonising them while the black government misappropriates Affirmative Action. There’s no point in a black person spending his money on luxury cars, alcohol and a [SO WHAT] ‘good life’ then later blaming white people for holding on to economic clutches. Billions of rands have made it past black hands since 1994 but there are very few solid assets to show for it; excerpt political party funding slips and blacklisting.

April 27, 2014 was another commemoration of that Wednesday in April 1994 when South Africans braved the cold to vote. However, in the same breath as most developing countries the gap between the black rich and the black poor is widening. Opportunities to participate in the economy are dispensed based on patronage. Some connected few get oil deals worth R100billion in the Democratic Republic of Congo in exchange for the lives of a few South African National Defence Force troopers giving their lives. To me this looks like what Mugabe did for the Kabila diamonds.

Even at the celebrations cracks were showing. The rich didn’t go to the rallies but relaxed with their single malt whiskey at golf clubs while the poor were pushing and shoving one another at stadia to get free t-shirts and a plate of food.

If like in Zimbabwe it’s how Freedom Day is celebrated in South Africa; it looks scary how it will be done thirty two years from now – depending there will still be freedom to celebrate. Aluta continua!

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