I am amused. Really. International detractors of Mandela fall into two distinct camps.
On the one hand we have the rabid capitalists and fascists, condemning him for being a communist and a terrorist. The ANC followed the Gandhi model of peaceful protest, until Sharpville. When any nation is confronted by a government that has state sanctioned terrorism, as South Africa had with forced removals, Sharpville, restrictions on freedom of movement and trade, detention without trial, torture, assassination and as we later found out to our horror Vlakplaas and Boipatong along with "third force"incitement to violence, that nation will eventually respond in kind.
As for the communist accusation, as I understand it and as I lived it, under Apartheid anyone who opposed the government was labelled a communist whether they were human rights activists, liberals or democrats. Under extreme situations the phase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"often becomes apparent. Mandela certainly was friends and worked with communists, whether deep down he believed in the principles of communism or not, I still have no idea.
On the other hand we have the socialists and in the extreme the communists who condemn him for not Nationalising everything. I might not have this all straight, but I am going to try.
Firstly everyone seems to think that Mandela acted alone, as a free agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was President, but in all things all decisions made by the ANC are party decisions. So the President is not only a spokes person for the country but also for the ruling party.
Secondly, Mandela was President for only one term in office. Not only did he step down from this post, but he also stepped down from playing an active part in ANC decision making. Any decisions made thereafter might have considered his opinion and relied on his influence, but these decisions were not made by him.
The Arms Deal Scandal which has cost South Africa dearly was done under Mbeki. Since Zuma has been in power the corruption in government and the mismanagement of taxes has escalated. Service delivery has not been forthcoming, unemployment has increased, so has poverty along with declining standards in education, health and security.
There is a huge gap between the very rich and the poor and a very noticeable lack of a strong growing middle class. What we have now is not a racial apartheid but an economic apartheid and this is also not longer divided on racial grounds but is effecting all groups.
Through BEE all companies have to have black quotas and all companies have to have black shareholders and investors. Thatcherism with an African variation looked good on paper, but the trickle down has not happened and there is a rising gap between ultra rich blacks and large unemployed sectors amongst blacks. But this is not restricted to only blacks, the same has occurred in all race groups.
Very little has been done to encourage individual small business development and the major focus has been on investment and large corporations which unfortunately have included the likes of Monsanto with our maize now being 75% GMO and with it corporate farming instead of agricultural schools and incentives for small scale organic farming not held hostage to patented seeds and highly toxic pesticides.
Wall Mart which has gobbled up many South African owned retail stores and with it brought the demise of smaller, privately owned stores. The lack of markets across the country as in the rest of Africa where vendors can sell their wares and make a living is absent and in it's place stormtroopers chase vendors off our streets and pavements.
In spite of paying fuel levies for over 15 years which amount to almost 40 billion a year and should easily have paid for ten lane freeways all over the country, the public is now subjected to Toll roads and heavy fees most of which will go into the pockets of private companies and not back into the roads department for maintenance and building of roads.
Goldman Sachs recently congratulated us on having over 16 million people on one form of social security or another. This is not a call for congratulations instead it is an abysmal failure of a declining economy and a fast disappearing middle class.
The youth have studied hard and achieved expecting either the government or these large corporations to absorb them and offer employment. This has not happened, government and corporations have not been able to absorb the growing number of graduates and little to no incentives and education has been given for individual enterprise so that they can become self empowered and job creators instead of job seekers. This is applicable in all race groups.
So to sum up, Mandela's detractors on both sides are not right, but they are not wrong either. In this total mismanagement of our economy, which has followed the American model, I think we are all a lot wiser. Possibly 20 years ago what we thought looked good on paper would work, clearly does not. Thatcherism on steroids has turned into corporate fascism creating a two tiered society of the very rich and an ever growing population living on the bread line.
Russia in it's change from communism which clearly did not work to capitalism, also thought they were getting a better system and by 1999 due to crony capitalism they were crushed with disastrous results. Today they seem to have found a healthy balance between healthy capitalism and socialist structures and have recovered remarkably well from two types of economies that completely ruined them.
None of this has got anything to do with Madiba's legacy. It has got to do with a democracy slowly finding it's own feet and finding systems that work for our particular culture, which I might add is wide and diverse.
Madiba's legacy for which South Africans will be forever grateful was to bring love, hope, tolerance and peace to a country at war with itself, steeped in hated and wrecked by violence.
I believe his message still stands and when I look around at the world today, the planet could do with a very heavy dose of Madiba magic, because it is in a lot of trouble.
Let's give it to them shall we? They sure could all use it right now!
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