The government’s biggest failure

2008-04-26 00:00

APRIL 27 is a historic date, not just for South Africa, but for the whole of Africa. Prior to April 27, 1994, South Africa had been on a knife’s edge as racial tensions soared between blacks and whites, after the South African Communist Party’s Chris Hani was shot and killed in cold blood on the driveway of his Boksburg home outside Johannesburg by a man who is currently serving alife term.

It was his death that precipitated the decision by all parties on a date for elections and an earlier decision by the African National Congress to ban its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe could not have been more timely as this country was on the verge of following in the footsteps of other African countries that were, and are still, governed by military rule.

It’s 14 years on and what has South Africa got to show for having achieved the freedom for which many died? Discriminatory laws have been scrapped and new democratic ones have been enacted by all parties in the National Assembly. However, is there cause for celebration after almost a decade-and-a-half of so-called freedom?

One of the biggest failures of our current government is its inability to deal effectively with the issue of land. One cannot truly say the formerly disenfranchised people of this country are free when less than 15% of the land which was meant to be given back to its rightful owners has been redistributed.

How are these people, who are mostly poor and underprivileged, supposed to short-circuit the effects of rising inflation and the CPIX figures through subsistence farming when they have no land, as Finance Minister Trevor Manuel suggested recently?

Zimbabwe, in part, is where it is today because of its failure to deal decisively with land issues and this country will most likely go down that route should there be a lack of political will to address land issues in a just manner. I will not even go into the Lancaster House Agreement between Zimbabwe and Britain.

It looks like our government just realised that it gave us more rights than it feels we deserve. It’s interesting how priorities change when one goes from being a liberation movement to being a government. One has to look at the proposal for a media tribunal to illustrate this. Clearly, freedom of speech is seriously under threat and failure by our government to communicate with its people, except during election times, has left the masses with little idea about what happens in the government for which they voted.

There are countless communities that voted in every election, yet have little to show for it; instead, they feel life was better under former president F. W. de Klerk than it is under president Thabo Mbeki.

Is it a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same? It’s your call.

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