Opinion

South Africa Burning – Shocked but not Surprised!

In the past week in South Africa, we have been witnessing to scenes that have been heart-breaking, personally I am in mourning. What started as supposedly a political protest to free the former president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma for defying the constitutional court; has developed into scenes of anarchy and chaos that have clearly been orchestrated by a few who found fertile ground for many who were desperate, disgruntled, and disillusioned to get involved.

While these events of looting and destroying have been shocking; they have not been a surprise. The unravelling of our fragile democracy has been a long time coming. We came into the new democracy by giving “political freedom” to the people but did not do anything nor enough to economically & socially change the lives of the majority of our people who are poor in material and tangible ways.

You cannot Integrate Racism

In the documentary, “Miracle Rising: South Africa”, Roelf Meyer (who served as MP, Minister of Defence & Minister of Constitutional Affairs & Communication under the National Party) provided the following insight: “There is a misconception regarding when Apartheid stared. It started in 1652 when the Europeans came to Africa. They brought with them the paradigm of superiority and inferiority. They always thought they were always superior to the indigenous people in Africa. It was a paradigm for more than 300 years”

White Supremacy, which is Racism, is a system built on the mistreatment & exploitation of those who are identified as “non-white”. In spite of this; in 1994, we in South Africa tried to integrate Racism (a system of injustice) rather than build a system of justice and the results are that the racist system we tried to integrate is producing exactly what it was designed for. We are the most unequal country in the world and our poverty and relative means still run largely along race.

I reference the above not as a scapegoat but for fuller context. Historian, Dr John Hendrik Clark said; “History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be.” 

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A morally & ethically bankrupt Leadership: Corruption has become a feature rather than a glitch

The current political leadership is responsible for the anger, despair and lawlessness we are experiencing in our communities. We have leaders that in the past 27 years have enjoyed the spoils of an unjust system rather than serve the best interests of the people of South Africa. Their thirst for power and control has been the driver behind this orchestrated chaos we have been witnessing. Ordinary people who choose to loot will steal “things” and that’s their prize. Why would they burn malls and infrastructure? The former can happen in the moment, the latter is pre-meditated. The question is…. Why?

The level of corruption seen in our government (though not exclusive to the public sector) has been an indication of leaders that are ethically and morally bankrupt. Biblical wisdom teaches us that, “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.” Proverbs 28

Corruption in our institutions of governance has become a feature rather than a glitch. Local municipalities have long been under scrutiny for misusing, mismanaging and misappropriating funds. The consequences of these have been poor service delivery especially to the people who need it the most. In 2013 in Tshwane, a contract was issued for the installation of 800,000 prepaid electricity meters. The R830million contract was eventually cancelled but only 12,930 meters had been installed. At Prasa, R620 million was spent on locomotives that were found to be unsuitable for use on our infrastructure upon arrival. These and many more cases leading up to the Zondo Commission have pointed to a moral rot in our system of governance and leadership. We cannot keep taking from the system and the people and giving little to nothing back. It will all eventually collapse and we’re bearing witness to the signs in real-time.

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Is there Hope? Is there anything that can be done?

Respect & Defend the Rule of Law

When God delivered the children of Israel from their oppressors in Egypt and made Moses their leader; the first thing He gave them to build and maintain a nation was Law. Not land, not resources, not houses but LAW. If we do not respect, defend and submit ourselves to our agreed laws as our foundation, we will fall. There will not be a thriving and healthy country for our children and children’s children to inherit.

We need to take Personal Accountability

I grew up with little and I have seen and experienced poverty. I have lived among poor people and even in their desperation they did not resort to criminality. Being poor does not make you a criminal, being poor does not give you licence to steal. We will all be held to account for our choices and actions in this life and the next. In this time, regardless of who we are, we need to choose that which is good and right. A righteous people will not follow wicked and corrupt schemes.

We need to unite across our Differences & commit ourselves to producing Justice

It’s easier to destroy than to build. We need to come together across our differences, black, white, Indian & Coloured; poor, working class and rich; privileged & oppressed. We need t come together to rebuild our communities and uphold law and order.

Those in our midst who are in positions of power and authority, who can mobilise manpower, resources, capital and have the ability to change policies and regulations need to do so to help us build a social and economic system built to produce justice in all our sectors.

“Justice will mean that we guarantee that no person is mistreated because of their identity and that we guarantee that those that need the most help in our society, receive the most constructive help.” Neely Fuller Jnr.

Nkosi sikelel’iAfrika…. God Bless Africa!

Source
Dominic Gaobepe, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist at Cohesion Collective
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