‘Gatvol’ of an unequal South Africa

Jacques Baartman, Rocklands

On paper, South Africa is a free and equal society, but in reality we are still deeply divided and unequal. The poor is getting poorer and the rich is getting richer.

This is indicative of something fundamentally wrong that we are not using progress for the common good of all our people..

We, need to change our mindset as individuals and as a country. The question is how?

The ANC is the first democratically elected political party who failed to enforce that mandate given to it by the masses and this can be directly attributed to the elite compromise deal at the negotiation table where the National Party was down, but still came with their cunning tactics to ensure their apartheid-gained privileges are protected.

But for now, let’s remind ourselves that the incoming comrades and freedom fighters with absolutely no experience in governing a country, led by Nelson Mandela, have under difficult circumstances pulled off more than a small miracle for South Africa.

Yes, many disagree and are very vocal in their criticism of our leaders, but we need to acknowledge the magnitude of the challenges they faced upon taking office.

The National Party bequeathed to South Africa a financially bankrupt country. The moral bankruptcy of apartheid has long since been acknowledged. It is understandable then that the first phase of post-apartheid nation-building needed to include changing the entire legislative framework and content to guarantee human dignity for all, including focusing on finding a way to rescue a bankrupt country.

The problem is that white monopoly capital reformed itself and white elite and corporations were given the privilege of transferring all the wealth they had accumulated in the apartheid era, including the part they had accumulated undeservedly, almost intact into the new South Africa.

To illustrate my point, leading South Africa’s top 10 richest people and companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are: Ivan Glasenberg of Glencore International (worth R59.70 billion), Nicky Oppenheimer of De Beers, (R55.8 billion), Johan Rupert of Remgro (R41.71 billion), Cristo Wiese of Shoprite (R25.35 billion) who holds 44% shares in Pepkor, the holding company of discount stores like Pep and Ackermans and Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals, one of the first companies that benefited from black economic empowerment (R11.82 billion) and also the only black-owned company among the top 10 on the JSE.

In my view, it is a gross travesty of justice that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was not mandated to put socio-economic violations of human rights at the centre of the healing process. While most whites benefited from the advantageous compromise deal, many of them are not prepared to acknowledge the injustices that were committed by them or on their behalf over many decades.

In their sense of denial, they lament that they are” sick and tired” of being reminded of their apartheid debt, but they forget it will still be justifiable for decades to come. And while, I welcome the rights of, mostly white, civil society organisations and groups to defend our constitutional democracy in their calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down, it is conspicuously evident they’re exploiting the very uncomfortable disharmony the majority of blacks are experiencing as a means to protect t their own sectional interests.

To add insult to injury in the national discourse of politics, there are some political parties, particularly the DA, who is opportunistically capitalising and exploiting the situation by playing” soap box” politics with people’s lives.

It is no secret that in the DA there is a very powerful clique who are hell-bent on a coup to destroy Mr Zuma and the ANC in their attempts to reverse change so that they can introduce their neo-liberal policies to promote their white interests.

Why was it not surprising for Helen Zille to sing the praises of colonialism on how grateful we must be for the good it did for South Africa? It is clear these people don’t have the right frame of mind to direct their patriotic duty and responsibility and it this unwillingness to change that to a large extent accounts for why we’re in such a mess.

In 2013, the DA was slated for applying double standards on several laws aimed at black economic empowerment (BEE) when they voted against the Intellectual Property Bill, after having agreed to it in the first place.

This change of position came after the DA back-tracked in supporting the Employment Equity Bill and broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) legislation.

On this subject, it is grossly inhumane that in trying to liberate the economy there is another elite few super rich blacks who are appointed as directors on the boards of these multi-national companies and corporations in the name of BEE – betraying our hard-fought for freedom.

The majority of South Africans are left unaided to deal with the socio-economic betrayal suffered under decades of discrimination on the basis of race.

In the final analysis, while discrimination and racism continue to roll the loaded dice of capital formations in favour of the privileged few, it would not be unreasonable to say white people who were the beneficiaries of apartheid must urgently confront the need for fundamental socio-economic development and transformation to ensure shared prosperity.

Recently the clandestine operations of some of our biggest banks was exposed for colluding to devalue the South African rand and handsomely profit from it at the expense of the poor majority and I did not hear the DA say they must” pay back” the money.

I also did not see Save SouthAfrica taking to the streets to protect our country against white monopoly capital stealing from poor blacks.

Are our people really that naïve that they cannot see that they are being used

to further advance the interests of white monopoly capital?

Try marching on their businesses and demand lower food prices or a living wage and see what their response will be?

In their attempts to topple the ANC, the DA went as far as to mobilise their revolutionary expats in London who have no patriotic loyalty South Africa. I am of the conviction there are legitimate concerns across the public spectrum in the call for the president to step down, but I question the modus operandi and bona-fidas of certain political parties and civil rights groups who have not fought for freedom, but in their quest for control of our country want to dictate how much democracy and rights we are entitled to, including dictating the terms and conditions.

Why don’t they put pressure on big business, who are only here to make millions, to do business with small companies in our community so that we can create more employment to help eliminate poverty that will lead to less crime, gangsterism and drug abuse and also grow our township economy?