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Equality, liberty and solidarity

11 July 2014, 14:06
the french revolution was about three things that I as a black man do not experience in full in post apartheid South Africa-owing to a closed economy and  a daily confirmed suspicion that blacks are increasingly getting a raw deal beyond the politics.  There really is no significant equality, liberty and solidarity that goes beyond statutes to address discrimination and limitations on the happiness, talents, and opportunity for black people. 
firstly, Equality as it pertains to the bill of rights in the 1996 South African Constitution- I am indeed equal to any other citizen, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights I am equal in dignity, entitlement of service from government and before the law. 
 In reality, however, I am haunted by the fact that i am not earning what a white South African with the same level of education and less earns.  the racial differential in wages is a worrying factor to me.  
liberty is freedom-  this is also protected in statutes but there is very little case law that actually creates cases for free access to opportunities in capitalist South Africa. A significant number of black graduates are working either in the state or parastatals- not by choice, because public service theory taught us that the state should not be overly swelled up and should have a distracting focus in providing employment, the state is a major employer to black south Africans.  
 The above is because (a)  there is a very limited black labour absorbing, mentoring and developing business class in SA; (b) in the existing business class there very unstable race relations in white owned private sector- here blacks feel patronised and are earning significantly less than whites, there are tendencies of making blacks feel unwanted and unfree. Yes, black business should grow and employ- but why are we seriously going on with race tensions 20 years into democracy? 
This leads me to the question of solidarity- fraternite in French- I wonder, is not good enough that I am human, educated and South African? Again with regards to solidarity, should business not give equal incentive and treatment to all South Africans regardless of race-with the expectation that it is investing in a patriotic, hopeful and committed workforce? 
I mention the above because, when South Africa had racial labour  practices in reserved labour and wages, supported by a homeland system the grounds the unfaire treatment of blacks was then firmly established to keep the black labour force out and peripheral from the gains and significant and intelligent contribution to the formal economy. blacks were not supposed to inventors, CEOs and anything other than sources of cheap labour. 
As seen above clearly the  present disposition of the black labor force is a product of a discriminatory race relations; that we are even talking about fair treatment says something has happened but it is happening reluctantly.  Solidarity is not about biblical neighbourly love only; but about human rights and democratic consciousness; it is actually more about a commitment to a nation's prosperity and success. 
the iconography of Mandela and the attendant reconciliatory era could only do that much, affirmative action and black economic empowerment and traces of white benevolence are also limited  to change the above; only a new reasoning and a new understanding can do the required mind change on the part of white business so that it will: (1) train blacks as entrepreneurs and partners not just graduates as new reserve but skilled labor; (2) ensure that it lobbies universities to create self employed and well skilled black graduates.
The race stalemate is still there and will continue because of the mistrust and bitterness but is most dangerous if it means that only a certain part of the population can add value and participate and gain equally, freely and in solidarity in the South African formal economy. 
Percy Makholwa   
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