Everyone wishes to live in a safe environment, exercise a comfortable quality way of life, and enjoy economic freedom within whichever job sector they wish to enter. Crime on the cape flats, the heart of the Western Cape, is at a critical level. The national defense force has just been deployed to assist metro police in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which hosts a university currently ranking 103rd best, and a maximum security prison which ranks 8th worst in the world.
Cape Town’s geographical layout serves as one of the clearest examples of the unequal capitalistic systems still in place. As one moves away from the surrounding mountains and pristine beaches towards the dusty cape flats, a clear racial and socio economic pattern is revealed. The Group Areas Act of 1950 (Act No. 41 of 1950) was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas of any given town or city. The result of this act was that the best, most developed areas were reserved for the white people, while the blacks, Indians, and coloureds were assigned to the more rural outskirts of the major metropoles. 84% of the available land was granted to the white people, who made up only 15% of the total population. There are a good number of those who continue to enjoy economic abundance in the Western Cape at the cost of others.
Since the inception of democracy the Western Cape has steadily been transforming towards a province that provides more equaled economic opportunities for the middle to upper-middle classes. Yet the lower working class has been sinking deeper into chaos as they have been unable to emerge from their poverty-stricken mentalities, engineered by calculated government neglect for health and education in these areas over the past few decades. With the veil of apartheid almost a generation now lifted nothing has changed, merely recalculated to keep the middle class content. Yet the middle class is not content and they are busy mobilizing towards a socio political atmosphere that will suit the greater collective of contributors to this country’s economy, them. The middle class is slowly realizing its need to buffer the relationship between the very wealthy and the very poor, as they simply cannot understand one another anymore. The middle class is realizing it will have to communicate succinctly the demands of the poor before they resort to full-scale violence. The middle class is also realizing is has to engage the funds the wealthy are forced to tax submit, as they themselves have to give but wont get their hands dirty. The middle class is finally realizing that if they do not now, themselves provide proper health and educare for their young, they will continue to develop no where near their full potential and fall prey easier to the influences that target insecurities, fear and lack of general compassion. The middle class is realizing their voting power ever stronger and how to use it to engineer the transformation they wish to see around them. Mobilization on a national scale is however needed to pass an Act which sees categorized super tax systems put in place and diligent institutions implementing health and education programs with these funds in the communities previously robed and this basic humane right.
Naturally any system that has to begin catering to a greater, previously disadvantaged mass, will suffer a drop in quality. But the degree to which poorer communities in the Western Cape are still suffering inhumane living conditions due to lack of basic services is clear evidence of a provincial government run by the wealthy, for the wealthy. The degree of police corruption and rate at which drugs and alcohol is still allowed to flow into the cape flats is more evidence of the wealthy controlling the current provincial government. The local government is not really responsible for the upheld standard of living by many. The level and influence of educational and extracurricular activities within schools in more affluent areas are held high largely, if not entirely by the continual private investment of the families able to attend them. Children from communities being strangled by gang violence, drugs and induced apathy have little to no chance of engaging actively with any education system as the homes they come from provide no encouraging stimulation. Their parental generation is still slave to the poverty thinking its communities were impregnated with during the apartheid regime. Thus the general quality of individuals the different areas in the Western Cape produce over the next 15to 20 years, will probably still continue to differ immensely.
A path towards true economic democracy for all in the Western Cape can only be realized once a greater focus is directed at leveling out these playing fields. It will take a new generation of leaders all aligned with this premise to emerge. This movement that will begin to realign civil services with those areas of concern the communities of the Western Cape identify will rise out of the middle working class. A council of combined communities elders will inform this movement’s growth. An arm of this movement will transform into a political sphere and begin to implement the decisions of the elders, based on the wants of the collective communities, in a manner that strives solely in providing equal opportunity for all as soon as possible. They will strive for Democratic Justice for all in terms of quality of life, desired social practices and economic opportunity.
Breaking cycles of poverty must involve operational systems as critically structured as those that engineered them. There are two fundamental spheres of thought crippling our society as a whole right now. One is the outright belief that there is not enough for all and that we should acquire as much as possible before anyone else realizes, and hide it away for future generational security. The second one is the deep sense of self-righteousness held by those in this, still unequal economic democracy, who believe they have the right to what they have until now worked for, and those who believe they have a right to that which they were previously not able to work for.
The first sphere of thought, around lack of abundance, must be dissolved by providing readily accessible health and educare for children under the ages 4-9 years old. We need to get the children out of the presently undesirable home situations in our undernourished communities. Crèches and schools beginning from Grade R should become safe havens for children in these communities, where they receive social, educational and nutritional nourishment. Categorized tax systems need to favor our health and education systems first and foremost before attempting to sustain skills and development programs for the youth. This should be the second part of breaking the cycle of poverty. First we need to create safer, more compassionate and encouraging environments for our province’s children to grow up in.
Secondly the youth, aged 13 to 17 in disadvantaged communities need to be inspired, socio – politically informed and critically exposed to the steps to success within a greater variety of job sectors. We have allowed them to drown in apathy. They are becoming the lost generation. I don’t believe anyone randomly wishes to commit any sort of crime. Our actions are dictated by our predominant thoughts. The environment we habitually interact with, in turn dictates our thoughts. Those suffering poverty, live a level of survival that cannot be fully comprehended by anyone who has not experienced it for long periods at a time. Any human born into a community, collectively suffering a poverty-stricken existence lives like an animal, depending on instinct. It will do whatever it believes it needs to in order to survive and prolong the well being of its next of kin. These members of our society are ill equipped, emotionally and intellectual to shift their mindsets without extensive government and corporate supported rehabilitation programs. Racial respect between the different groups in a confined space can only be acquired over generations of positive interaction on equal playing fields. The perpetuation of unequal living environments and hence unequal opportunities by the Western Cape affluent over the racially specific poorer communities is what is breeding poverty and hence, crime and substance abuse.
Crime affects all, yet the working class is arguably most hard done by it. Given just enough psychological and financial tools to strive for a better life, they are constantly pulled back by those in their environment who have been sucked in to the above-mentioned states of survival. Within this constant tension, an immense anger is slowly fuelled. The revolt against a system of government which does not serve the masses becomes an immediate reality when the working middle class becomes the dominate voting power and are provided with the adequate political options. The Western Cape has the infrastructure and the financial backing, yet lacks a political party or a movement that has the needs of its communities at heart, and the ability to communicate the greater social comfort its wealthy donors will experience the more they concentrate on sharing the wealth and opportunities this province has to offer. The more work opportunities and dreams we can offer our youth the less they will dwell in the states of idle fear gangsterism, hard drugs and alcohol prey on. We need to connect them with positive role models actively achieving success and share the basic, most times challenging, yet greatly rewarding steps to success. Slowly this will lift the degree of living, the impoverished youth believe they can achieve. This is a fundamental difference between those youth born within communities where they are shown the multitude of careers they can pursue and are given the confidence to explore them without financial strain, and those youth that suffer families which demand the quickest form of financial support from them. The youth need to be educated as to our constitution, the freedom charter and the power their votes and voices have in influencing their immediate environments.
Government needs to be remolded to the desire and needs of its communities from the streets up. This demands that communities take an ever more active involvement in educating themselves about the socio-political climates at all times, documenting their collective grievances and demanding that ward councilors provide accountable steps as to how they and their party will achieve them. As communities we need to collectively demand that first and foremost our children’s basic health and educare become top priority, and that our youth be involved in free sport, commerce and social programs connecting them with tertiary institutions and companies. Corporates will only commit if constitutional dictates or they need to be assured their social investments will ensure their workers and families quality of life will improve the more they contribute towards creating more compassionate environments for those born suffering the unequal capitalistic systems perfected by various nations of the past few decades.
Lastly it is imperative we provide our elders with the platform to keep guiding us on the proper and just path. We have lost our sense of ‘kraal community’ where the elders raised the future generations while the young and able worked. The young may be of child baring age, providing fit offspring, but no human being who is still trying to find out who they are, should raise another being as to who they can be. This is how the sins of our fathers are passed down; when children raise children. One only begins to understand oneself truly near the age of 40. A person of that age is able to raise a child without trying to impress its own authority upon it. Our society is greatly at fault for neglecting our elders, cooping them up in old age homes, without our financial support. We should be looking after them so that they can look after our children. They should be raising our future generations while we evolve the physical, mental and spiritual means of exploring this wonderful world around us.
Let us provide our elders with greater nourishment and safer havens where they can share their experience, knowledge and intuition. Let us gravitate towards a greater sense of community apartheid/unequal capitalistic regimes strive to suppress us away from. Let us identify, encourage and support those on the path towards ensuring these opportunities for our society as a whole. Let us do so by taking active responsibility for our votes, our communities and the transformation we wish to see around us.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.