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15 October 2012, 09:42

Everyone is busy, we all have lots to do.  I am not being funny, it’s true.  But what is also true is that if we do not start doing something big sometime soon, we, as a country, are in deep trouble.  You are reading this article so I am assuming you have access to the internet and so it is unlikely that you are among the 50 or so percent of our country who live below the poverty line. Stop for a moment and think about how they feel. Don’t worry, I am not about to ask you to give more to charity. But I do want you to think about what it must be like to live in such difficult situations, to suffer and see your family suffer. The lives of those just above the poverty line are not that much different. Many people suffer in South Africa.     

We are 18 years into democracy, and still the majority suffers. That must be frustrating.  Most poor people are just trying to get by, but some are getting angry. They can see the continued wealth of the old elite, and make no mistake, they also see the wealth of the new elite. But they continue to suffer.  People have been patient for many years.  They have listened to the promises of their leaders.  Some things have gotten better.  Grants have helped alleviate the very worst forms of poverty.  Electricity and water access have improved people’s health and quality of life.  But it is not enough, especially when you compare the lives of the poor to those of the rich. 

What to do with this anger? Where to direct it? When you lose faith in your leaders it becomes even more difficult to know what to do.  This is what has happened in the mines.  Miners have suffered for years, they have trusted their leaders, but that trust is shaking.  The results are clear.

Those in South Africa who continue to suffer have a right to be angry.  It is a wonder that the anger has not been greater.  In a democracy it should be possible to direct that anger through the ballot box.  That anger should be used to discipline leaders and bring change.  But no political party is representing their needs.  Sure, many people in the ANC are concerned about the poor, apparently just not those with any real power.   

It may take a year, or five or twenty, but eventually the anger will boil over.  But it does not have to be this way.  New political movements could form, and that anger could find its place as the disciplining force it should be.  But even that is not necessarily good.  With so much discontent around it is easy for opportunists to jump up with populists slogans and take advantage of people’s suffering to further their own ends.  What is needed is for those who wish to see a better solution to work together and come up with something positive: A political party which prioritizes the needs of those in South Africa who suffer most, but also sees that those who do not suffer as much need to be included.  If you not too busy, think about how you can take a stand with the poor.  Together you are a force.  You can do it because you want a country with less suffering, or because you want long term stability, no matter.  But do it, or just sit back and watch the slide.  Come share your ideas of how to generate positive change in South Africa on the Movement for Positive Change’s facebook page.     

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