Freedom’s hard-won fruits

2013-04-28 10:00

The goal attained is neither black nor white

Over years of covering South Africa’s freedom, I’ve come to learn this about us: We don’t count our lucky stars often enough, nor do we give ourselves credit for the things we do well.

Why this is, I am not sure. But the answer probably lies inherent in the way power was peacefully transferred, but not decisively won.

This leaves power as a constant to be contested while the facts of progress are masked in the continuing fight.

All that is constant is that everyone thinks they are powerless because of an amorphous “other” – from the ANC to the business sector, to the black and white communities.

In fact, as the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) South Africa Survey 2012 shows us, freedom has empowered most South Africans. “The last 20 years have seen a revolutionary improvement for all South Africans,” says the SAIRR’s deputy CEO, Frans Cronje.

You would never know this from the debates that stretch from Luthuli House to the headquarters of the minority rights activists of AfriForum and its allied unions in Solidarity.

The ANC still believes it is in office, but not properly in power.

I see the evidence in the ease with which it finds conspiracy for lower investment rates, activist civil society, or even questions about troop deployment in the Central African Republic.

But mostly, the evidence lies in the way the chips have fallen in the debate sparked by the Minister for Planning in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, who asked the relevant question of when the state could begin to take responsibility for development.

The answer from political heights higher than his was the governing party is not yet ready to forsake apartheid.

Yet in fundamental ways, it has run a state that has forsaken apartheid and made good progress in dealing with the worst vestiges of our history. Take a graphic journey with me:

Extreme poverty

Household asset wealth

JSE ownership

Bantu education reversed

Race and wealth

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