State of The Nation

2016-11-17 10:12

State of The Nation

South Africa is steadily heading toward a different direction politically, economically and socially. The relevant question would be; Are we making progress as a country in a manner that represents the interests of all its inhabitants?  The lessons not learnt by South Africans currently will only serve to punish later generations as history has so proven. Africa is riddled with violent and inhumane history that dates back to slavery, followed by colonialism of which some African countries cannot seem to shake off its violent means of control. This comes as no significant surprise considering the systems created and inherited by African states were designed for the benefit of a few against the aspirations of millions.

So how are we fairing as a country?

Human Rights

South Africa’s unanimous election into the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) gives us an opportunity to look at where we stand as a country. South Africa has a colourful constitution and Chapter 2 in the Bill of Rights captures what is to be understood as rights of every South African. Vibrant on paper but dull in application.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) chairperson Advocate Lourence Mushwana has many times lamented the seemingly waning commitment to human rights in South Africa. Our election into the UNHRC was done out of concern from the international community as the country was seen as to be less concerned with human rights. The abstention on gay rights, handling of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir case, the recent submission to withdraw from The ICC and the allied BRICS countries which have a poor Human Rights record are part and parcel of the many concerns that the international community has about South Africa.

The government has a lot to do when it comes to ensuring Human Rights in South Africa are protected. What it is apparent however, is that there is a bias that is enjoyed by the elite and educated who are well resourced in contending for their human rights. What about the rest of South Africans?

Education

Education in South Africa is afforded to all that live in it. The type of education however is what is contentious for many reasons. The private schooling system is incredibly well-oiled however only a limited number of South Africans can access it. The public schooling system on the other hand is inclusive but the numbers are proving to be a challenge the Department of Basic Education never made provisions for. The difference in quality of education provided to South Africans is largely disproportional which creates more problems. An imbalanced system and poor implementation only lead to a collapse.

The Limpopo textbook saga, SADTU cash for jobs, Eastern Cape Education crisis which has seen the province perform badly year in and year out this poor performance speaks unto issues that are tied to the very foundations of the country. This education problem is then delivered to Higher Education which has seen the emergence of nationwide protests dubbed #FeesMustFall. This matter poorly managed by the Minister of Higher Education Blade Ndzimande judging from the violence. The violence lead to major damages to property, injury to civillians and death of a students. The SAPS who were yet again pawns in enforcing law where dialogue was needed. The higher education crisis has split civil society on grounds that are seemingly redundant as all seek to ensure the future of their children.  For those that can afford however.

Land reform

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been rather vocal when it comes to the land issue. Julius Malema has come under fire as a result as fears of what may take place if the message falls to the wrong ears. Zimbabwe serves as a reminder of what can take place when poor planning of land expropriation takes place. The is a dense overpopulation of cities, towns and townships as a result of a slowed down process of land redistribution. There is enough land for everyone but the process of doing this is what will be the determining factor.

Most South Africans can agree on the fact we are a country built on injustices but there is a lack of sympathy when the poor should be given a chance to participate in the economy. South Africa is extremely rich in its natural resources and this sadly does not reflect as many continue to live in extreme poverty. Afri-forum have strongly condemned the utterances of EFF leader Malema but what they fail in doing is providing solutions to this sensitive subject matter depending which side you sympathize with.

The issue won’t go away as it has opened a political room for manoeuvre for the EFF who seek to dethrone the ANC as the party for majority black South Africans. This still unfolding time will tell what will be of it.

Governance

Rewind to 1992/3, it’s the dawn of a new South Africa, with a transitional council set in place to ensure that all those that participate in a new South Africa have their rights protected. This was done with the recognition that apartheid had infringed on the rights of citizens, prohibited economic participation and freedom of movement. We have seen transformation take place in South Africa which is comes highly appreciated, but our attention should not be on the things that are working right but what is going wrong.

When it comes to governance in the country a lot has gone wrong, as I earlier mentioned that the systems inherited do have a bias towards a select few. This has seen corruption rise to greater heights than accountability. This not unique to any African state that is yet to redefine its purpose outside the scope provided by the colonizers. It would be careless to ignore this factor as this means the people who are in power serve to protect their interests and that of their friends. The State Capture Report much rushed by former public protector Thuli Madonsela gives an indication of the level of corruption in South Africa finds itself in. Policy application has been lacking as a result. In short if there is no interest in serving the people it will show, thus Zuma and his Saxonwold affiliates are running around trying to prove otherwise.

Good governance is pivotal when it comes to running a country, the pitfall however come as a result of an inability to relinquish power once a person has served their term. This can be seen in South Africa through the recycling of aged ministers and deputies who served under the Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma administration. The merits of their retention in governance is that of political affiliation as opposed to qualification. This unjust system of governance has seen the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lose three metros to official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) with the help of EFF and smaller parties.

This sets the country up in an interesting predicament politically and economically. Foreign interest in South Africa has dwindled and the weakening rand coupled with civil protest serves as  some of the reasons why, consumers are set for a tough ride with no signs of an economic turnaround. A possible downgrade could harm the country and  the consumer but Finance Minister Gordhan has reassured though there is a a decreased growth expectation things are not all lost.

These are indeed testing times in South Africa and sadly no one is spared from feeling the burden of being a South African. From the research that was conducted its seems as though there is an acknowledgement by all people that change is needed before we erupt on ourselves. The problems we have are for us to have and we cannot sweep them underneath the carpet we have done that enough as it is. The problem existing is a step towards finding a solution.

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