For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
A student stands firm against a police line at Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. Young people are becoming more aware of the massive systemic and institutional issues SA faces – which they may have to remedy
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“Our parents were sold dreams in
1994, we are just here for the refund.” These words demanded attention in a sea
of posters at a #FeesMustFall protest. And it still holds mine.
The generational disjunctures
between us, the so called ‘born-free’ generation, and our (grand)parents’
generation have become increasingly tangible,
and unavoidable. #FeesMustFall and decolonisation are but two forms of its
is not unique to South Africa. But our disconnect is unique in that it is linked
to the idiosyncratic atrocities that shaped this land and its people.
For us, 1994 carries the weight of
unfulfilled democratic promises.
For our parents and grandparents, it
is that together with the pain,
memory and lived reality of apartheid and colonialism.
To us who have only known democracy
the concept of a rainbow nation rings hollow. To our parent generation, I am
told, many still say they never thought they’d live to see apartheid fall.
The ‘rainbow nation’ made us
believe that even within our differences we are equal. But we are not. We live
in a country with the highest
wealth inequality in the world. All political freedom did was make us
seemingly equal in identity as South Africans (and
then only just).
It turned a society of fundamental inequality
into a society of nominal equals. And because we are all ‘equal’, all
infinitesimal pantone variations of a rainbow, it requires that we, in effect,
ignore the real things that divide us.
An uncritical lens allows the
rhetoric of the rainbow nation to go unquestioned.
Our Parents were SOLD dream in 1994. We're here for the Refund. pic.twitter.com/AzVCr1BBj6— Neo Mahame (@itsKID_Darkness) October 20, 2015
Our Parents were SOLD dream in 1994. We're here for the Refund. pic.twitter.com/AzVCr1BBj6
The concept of the rainbow nation was
an idea that our parents and grandparents could believe in. Needed to believe
in. The promise of a rainbow nation was (and is) so much better than the
brutal, unflinching unrelenting reality of apartheid beatings, rapes, teargassing,
killings, oppression and daily terror.
Being included into the mainstream was
progress; not having to carry a dompass and move freely was seen as progress.
Not being at the mercy of a white baas’s
whims was progress. Because it was.
But it is here where the friction
of the intergenerational disjuncture manifests itself.
We recognise that progress, we are
grateful for this progress, we respect the gains made. But we have to ask, must
ask: how is this freedom when the very land we now move freely upon
still does not belong to us?
How is this freedom when we still
don’t earn the same pay
as white people? How is this freedom, when the black womxn* is still the face
poverty and unemployment in South Africa?
On its own, inclusion based on
identity does not solve the structural consequences of apartheid. We know our
parent generations understand this. Or we think they do.
Our agitation comes from the
seeming lack of advancement for the marginalised, the slow pace of economic
justice. The apparent notion that now that we have political freedom we can sit
back to let the slow progress of time and markets spread equality.
That’s not enough. It’s not nearly
enough; it won’t solve SA’s socioeconomic issues because you cannot eat a vote.
We don’t want to be included, to
merely be allowed to walk upon this land ‘freely’. We want to own our land, in every sense: as
entrepreneurs, as business owners, as captains of industry, as owners of
capital, with access to finance. We know that restitution is needed. We just
don’t understand why no one is seriously talking about it. We want to be heard
when we say there is a need to reimagine our political economy.
Rejecting the unfulfilled promise
of the rainbow nation is not a rejection of the struggles our (grand)parents –
of Mandela, of Sisulu, of Winnie and so many more less well known, who fought
It is, rather, a rejection of
compromising on true freedom; political freedom with economic freedom and
epistemic freedom. It is a rejection of the notion that freedom is something to
be negotiated, to be bestowed on us black, coloured and Indian people by those
who (still) hold the economic power and agency to live lives of dignity, relative
comfort and even prosperity.
It is a rejection of a freedom that
sees the structural inequalities of apartheid continue due to the unwillingness
of those very same people to give up or sacrifice, this comfort and prosperity
in the name of reconciliation and restitution.
Compromise on its own is not a bad
thing. But compromises that privilege one section of society and continues to
marginalise others is what we reject. We reject compromises that result in a
lived experience that is fundamentally incompatible with the democratic
promises of the ‘rainbow nation’, an experience where if you do not have R10 in
your pocket, you do not eat. An experience where if you are born black, poor
and a womxn one can make some fairly accurate descriptions about the kind of
life you will lead. The words ‘comfort and prosperity’ do not feature.
In the words of Malcolm X “if you
stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches that is not
progress. We still have the knife in our back.”
Only a few of the majority black
population has benefitted from this kind of ‘progress’ and some have had to
morally bankrupt themselves to get to where they are today. Marikana, Nkandla,
state capture, the Guptas. We need not even say more.
We must all fulfil our historical
mission and not turn back until the mission is completed. That is the duty
before all of us, and especially one that lies at the feet of born frees and
all those still to follow.
We simply want to talk about it. To
our parents. And grandparents. And not be dismissed but taken seriously. Asijiki
* Womxn is a term used to indicate that ‘women’ are not the extension of men and seeks to highlight the structural barriers all womxn face in a patriarchal society. The term womxn attempts to indicate that gender is a spectrum, its fluid and thus this term includes and speaks to the entire LGBTQI community that sits outside of the heteronormative patriarchal binary conception of ‘man and woman’.
** Ashanti Kunene is an intern in the Sustained Dialogues programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. She is also an International Studies Masters student with Stellenbosch University.
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