I'm concerned about the country, but optimistic – Bizos

2016-04-20 17:21
(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

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Johannesburg – Advocate George Bizos on Wednesday said he was concerned about some of the things happening in South Africa, but was still optimistic about the future.

"There are things that ought to have happened in the last 20 odd years that have not happened, and I don’t know if there are valid excuses for [that]," he told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony where the City of Johannesburg conferred the Freedom of the City on him and Rivonia trialist, Andrew Mlangeni.

"But I do not agree with the pessimists who say that nothing has changed."

Mlangeni was unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony because he was in hospital, but he was represented by his son, Sello Mlangeni. 

Bizos said he was aware that there were people who had been "left out" in the country and that he was worried about them.

'Try a little harder'

"Let us try a little harder, so that fundamental change comes about for the benefit of all. I come from a classical background and… even though it’s a cliché, Rome was not built in a day," he said.

Bizos said he got upset when people claimed his friend and former president, Nelson Mandela, had let the country down.

Those people did not understand the fundamental changes that took place from 1990 to 1994, and between 1995 to 1996 when the final Constitution was written.

He said South Africa had avoided a civil war by agreeing to the so-called "sunset clauses".

Bizos said he was once asked what a sunset clause was and he had explained that they were agreements that had effect for a limited period.

'There have been sunrises'

"An important member of the ANC actually said to Joe Slovo… 'We understand what sunset clauses are, but please make sure there are more sunrises than clauses'.

"There have been sunrises, that’s true, but there is poverty, there is not up-to-standard education, there is joblessness... but actually being pessimistic about it is not the answer," he said.

Bizos said he was also worried about political divisions in the country.

"They are entitled to it, but there must be a consensus as to what we want and not promising things that cannot be delivered overnight.

"I think that there are promises made by some that is pie in the sky, without any prospects of it being brought to being in a limited period of time," said Bizos, adding, "It doesn’t mean we can ignore them, we must really try…"

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