Destroying states assets is no solution

2011-06-30 00:00

SOUTH Africa is a beautiful country, and its citizens rock. However, there are habits that are becoming the norm which I feel, if left unmanaged, could pose a serious threat to democracy and all the potential that our country has. Most of these bad habits are fuelled by frustration and people running out of patience.

South Africa is still young in terms of its democracy. When you are young there are things you bump into, unknowingly and unintentionally. Some bumps may end up crippling you for life while others may hurt you only for a little while. Either way, you must learn. Whatever the case, it becomes highly advantageous for the young to listen not only to the elders, but also to learn from them. In other words it would do our country a lot of good to observe and learn from developed countries on how they do things, how they solve problems and how they cope with the dynamic pressure points of life.

In South Africa it is becoming a habit that if things do not happen your way, especially if you are a group, the best way to get problems solved is to strike, to boycott proceedings, to burn assets and/or even kill people. By this I am in no way putting blame on the ill-treated and the frustrated parties. Even the leaders, the perpetrators who are perceived to be the main cause of frustration, they too must learn to play their part. They must deliver on their bargains, be proactive, listen to people and learn to solve problems when they are minor before they escalate into gigantic issues that eventually need the entire country to almost come to a standstill. Any bottled-up frustration will at some point lead to an explosion. Any oppressed and frustrated people will at some point rebel against the system, and therefore we as a country need to invest and create effective platforms for negotiations.

We need to invest in the power of solving things through talking. We need to refrain from being physical, we are too physical and too demonstrative. It takes nothing to spark violence and takes forever to repair the damage. We need to learn to explain ourselves verbally. Often times when we think we are right, it is through talking that we come to the realisation that “maybe I wasn’t so right after all”. Communication is key and negotiation of meaning is critical if we are to grow as a united, respectful and prosperous nation that we promise to be.

Each time there is a strike and we burn assets that belong to the state, we are actually venting our frustrations on innocent taxpayers who might have nothing to do with the strike, or who themselves might be

victims of ill-treatment. The

government does not work, tax-payers do. The government generates revenue from its citizens and if for instance the state has 100 buses and during a strike we decide to burn 10 buses because we think the state will feel the pressure, it actually is us who will feel the consequences because we use these buses, and the taxpayers will have to pay for their replacement.

The same principle applies to schools, hospitals, clinics and so on. Burn any government asset and taxpayers have to pay for it and the government will replace it. What this means is the

revenue that could have been used for something else has to be used in addressing this deliberate, ill-considered destruction. So these actions set the country back.

This does not mean that undermining or ignoring people is right, but what people do as a result, might be irresponsible. It might work, but it is not the way.

Finally, while I fully sympathise with anyone or any group of frustrated people, for I too have my own frustration points and I am a product of this country, I beg us to believe in discussing things, in communication. Let us give each other a chance to talk, share ideas, listen to each other and find solutions to our problems and solve them once and for all. It should not be the case that every year there should be strikes over

salary increases.

The cost of living is rising and we need to survive, therefore citizens (employers and employees) must come up with an effective and acceptable solution to address such issues so that they do not become recurrent. Leaders must give followers a platform where they can express their views and have their best interests at heart. Followers must believe in their leaders, learn to express themselves and believe in the power of negotiations. Together we must learn to be responsible, to be committed to the decisions we agree upon and support each other.

• Bheka Nxele is a Bio-Regional Planner for Ezemvelo KZN


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